Live Art, Vendors and Precious Stones: Why Gem & Jam Festival is the Jewel of the Arizona Desert

Article by: Jonathan Akbari

Thu February 11, 2016 | 00:00 AM

Gem & Jam Festival, which celebrates its 10th year of fusing mineral and merchant culture with the top jams in electronic music this Valentine's Day weekend, is unlike any other gathering thanks to its emphasis on a unique Holy Trinity of live art, vendors and precious stones, rather than a simple musical lineup. Held simultaneously with the world famous Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show (now in its 62nd year), the thousands in town for the festivities suggest that the stones expel a powerful aura and energy that can’t be found at other festivals.

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Photo by: Earl Sidelle

Whether there's truly an energy field created by the precious stones or not, the close proximity of the gem and mineral community – the gem show itself takes place mere blocks from the festival grounds – certainly helps create a centralized focus on the arts and vendor culture for which Gem & Jam is so well known. This year, art enthusiasts will find some of the top names in various art mediums, such as visionary artist Carey Thompson , who’s known for his Galactivation portals and stage designs seen at Symbiosis Gathering and Lightning in a Bottle, alongside festival mainstays Chris Dyer and the Bay Area’s Welch Brothers, to name a few. The live artists' lineup highlights all mediums, ranging from canvas paintings to street art and even laser cut domes – and is almost as long as the musical lineup. Speaking of the music, every beat and melody will be accompanied by insane visuals done live by Jonathan Singer, who most recently won accolades for his work with The Grateful Dead during the band's 50th anniversary tour.

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Photo by: Earl Sidelle

With high-end galleries to delight visual art buffs, fire dancers, aerialists, and transportals (transportable interactive environments often seen at Burning Man ) that are meant to harmonize your vibrations, Gem & Jam runs with a heavy vibe of inclusivity when it comes to forms of art and expression. Beyond witnessing such art with your eyes and ears, the festival provides its attendees to enhance their own lives by hosting some of the freshest and most progressive vendors in the transformational festival circuit. Whether you are purchasing an amazing wire-wrapped piece from Jason Burruss or acquiring some custom leather work from Lost Sailor Designs, or scoring jewelry designs from The Crown Collection, Ser and GBL (who are amongst the top jewelers in the game), there's no shortage of accessories to be found on the festival grounds. When it comes to apparel, stop by North Carolina’s Spectrum Geometry, known for its rhythmic mandala designs, or Light Sound Dimensions' graffiti inspired hats to up your hat game.

Gem And Jam 2015 Earl Sidelle   01

Photo by: Earl Sidelle

With over 30 top-notch vendors for attendees to peruse, and hundreds more beyond the festival gates at the Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show, this jewel in the Arizona desert is a must attend for the 2016 festival season.