General 7-11-2003

Paint Your Green Man

Chris Selleck describes the visual accoutrements of this year's Green Man Festival at Spirit Mountain in Duluth, happening July 11-13. Ongoing coverage of the festival, including capsule music reviews and photos, will be available here.


It’s that time of year again—the Green Man Festival. The trees are heavy with leaves and gardens are just starting to produce their succulent treats, so why not celebrate the bringer of all things green—The Green Man. He is after all the seed to the Earth Mother and people celebrate him worldwide. He can be seen in Mayan architecture, in Celtic gardens stones and many other places, which makes him the perfect idol for artists everywhere. Even right here in Duluth, he is one of the favorite muses for local artists Sarah Heimer and Doug Odlevak, a.k.a. The Doogla.

This dynamic duo has been busily preparing props and oddities to make the Green Man Festival pop with visual eye candy: blacklight-enhanced forest scenes, leafy garlands adorned with floral pinwheels, and even a larger-than-life Green Man. In keeping with the “green” theme, almost all of their supplies have been salvaged or purchased second-hand, or even grabbed from piles set to be scrapped. Take, for instance, the hundreds of leaves that will adorn the stage and surrounding areas. Heimer and Doogla have taken sheets of found industrial-strength wallpaper, primed and painted it with salvaged paint (thanks to WLSSD), and cut out multi-colored and unique foliage to further enhance the already lush backdrop of Spirit Mountain.

Another marvel is the giant walking Green Man puppet this duo has created. It has lampshades for a head, features created from pool toys, and teeth of milk jugs. The torso, with moving arms, will be attached to snow fencing and secured to a backpacking frame. Even the feet have been salvaged; they’re Sprite bottles.

All the bands scheduled to play the festival will perform before Heimer and Doogla’s huge painted canvas backdrop, with trees cut out of it : negative space to allow the real forest to be seen. After the lights go down there will also be a blacklight forest, painted on estate-sale-purchased sheer scrims. After the music ends for the night, festival attendees should check out the Tiki Lounge on the Chalet bar deck: an ideal spot to catch a drink, reconnect with friends and unwind from a hectic day of rockin’ out.

Also present at the festival will be the Duluth Art Institute and the on-line organization They plan on capturing digital pictures and posting them in a timeline fashion at their booth. Crowd participation will be solicited for performance art and Yoko-Ono-inspired score works. According to D.A.I.’s Jeff Kalstrom, there will be many other surprises to inspire art-minded attendees.

This year’s festival will have many opportunities for festival-goers to get involved. There will be a giant wall primed and ready to be painted (paint provided near the wall), and plenty of space for people to bring their own art projects and creations to add to the fun. It’s all about participation and making your own fun, so get decked out, adorn your tent with as many silly things as possible, and take some advice from Sarah Heimer, who thinks you should get out and let your freak flag fly.

A version of this feature was published by the Ripsaw News of Duluth. It is reprinted here by permission.