Now in its eighth year at the Lightning in a Bottle festival, San Diego collective group The Grand Artique returns with a living Western town, Frontiersville. Taking place in Bradley (Central Coast) from May 24-29, this wildly engaging exhibition features actors living in the town for the weekend, an official Trading Post, and a stage with live musical performers.
The Grand Artique began as a shop in Pacific Beach on Grand Avenue and is now headquartered in Barrio Logan at 2244 Logan Ave. It is here where San Diego natives Shane Dolan (AKA Boss Blackie Dearheart) and Ian Xavier (AKA Bone Saw) create and collaborate with other artists and actors to create massive exhibitions and stages for various festivals around the country.
The group's humble beginnings sprang forth in 2009, with their first structure at Lightning
in a Bottle. As Dolan noted, "As a collective of people in San Diego, we were looking for a way to do something, not just party. So we built a small gypsy cart and took it to the festival. We put on a whole skit, and had interactive art and theater performance."
Before Frontiersville headed north to Bradley, Calif. For LIB, PACIFIC met with Dolan and Xavier at their Barrio Logan studio.
PACIFIC: How did you go from that first gypsy cart to bigger structures and stages?
DOLAN: Do Lab, the creators of LIB wanted us to do a trading post. We thought, "How are we going to make this happen?" We didn't have any money. So we went through alleys and collected, and created the first trading post and general store where Kettner Exchange is now.
XAVIER: We wanted to do our own stage, so in 2010 we started partnering with a Lucent Dossier circus group in Los Angeles (Wesley Thornton, Dana Riesgo, Peter Stratte, Dan Hickey) and Shane's brother Breck Dolan, who are now all full members of Grand Artique.
Dolan: To make art happen. It will transport you to a different era. It will immerse you in art and take you into a new reality.
How do you transport these structures?
Xavier: At first we just loaded up trailers. We started getting smarter and now we have storage containers. We have things stored, and we may add on. We use it once or twice then we construct a new stage.
Are your materials recycled?
Xavier: Yes, everything you see in here is recycled materials and reclaimed wood. That's something we've tried to stay on. It comes from yard sales, fencing companies, alleyways, estate sales.
Dolan: What's beautiful about that is that people don't want to see all of this stuff go to the landfill. They are happy to have somewhere to go with it.
What can people experience when they encounter The Grand Artique at a festival?
Dolan: They are going to discover something unique and genuine, something they can taste, touch and feel. It will bring out the inner artist in them, or inspire them in a way they weren't ready for. It will transport you to a different era. It will immerse you in art and take you into a new reality.
What other festivals is the group involved with?
Xavier: Electric Forest in Michigan, Symbiosis in Northern California, and this year the Oregon Eclipse.
What do you want people to know about The Grand Artique?
Dolan: It is a team effort. It's not just Ian or I or my brother and I. It's collaborative, and a "we" not an "I."
How can people interested in joining The Grand Artique get involved?
Dolan: It's always better to show up. We would much rather see you in person than a call or email. This place is a hub. We want people to feel like this is a home base, a clubhouse. It's not just a shop.
Xavier: This is the place to create ideas, go back and forth, and collaborate.
What's something people should look for from The Grand Artique?
Dolan: Keep your eyes peeled for the golden ticket.
To learn more about The Grand Artique, stop in to the Barrio Logan space or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see Frontiersville and get the scoop on members of The Grand Artique, go online to thegrandartique.com/events or follow the artistic journeys on Instagram @thegrandartique.
Lighning in a Bottle
When: May 24-29
Where: Bradley, California
Cost: General admission, four-day tickets start at $300