Arizona Winter Festival Highlights Visionary Art & Community Vibes

Jacob Devaney
4 min readJan 8, 2023

If inspiration is contagious then you will certainly catch the creative bug at the Gem and Jam Festival this February 3–5 in Tucson. Live painters, healing workshops, art installations, a kids zone, camping under the desert stars and 4 stages of music can conjure a certain kind of collective synergy that ignites the imagination. Musical headliners include String Cheese Incident, Poranguí, Emancipator, The Motet, Dirtwire and many others. It’s about community, connections, art and celebration each year at Gem and Jam.

“Only in our creative acts do we step forth into the light and see ourselves whole and complete.” -Carl Jung

Native Dancer, Larry Yazzie with Dirtwire at Gem and Jam 2022

A Laboratory of Visions: Human cultures always emerge from a place of shared visions. As social beings we thrive on modeling each other and having the space to dream, explore and play together. It is no surprise that science now fully recognizes that art plays a huge role influencing our consciousness. Yet we often allow the constriction of a job, personal responsibilities and societal ambitions to keep us from opening up to the endless flow of creative expression within.

“Creativity is curiosity expressed.” -Shela Yu, Phoenix Mural Artist

See Silk Artists, Acrobats, Stilt-Walkers, and Circus Performers. Photo Credit: Dennis “The Red” Eustace

Festivals are different than traditional vacations because they are centered on social relationships, community, personal expression, and collective inspiration. Dancing to music, being immersed in a creative environment and meeting new people has a way of breaking up any sort of stagnation that has crept into your life.

T-Spoon Fairy Makes Bubble Magic at Gem and Jam. Photo by Dennis “The Red” Eustace

Topaz Healing Sanctuary: The visionary festival environment allows everyone to feel comfortable and supported to explore new things. At the Gem and Jam Topaz Healing Sanctuary there are a number of workshops as well as practitioners to assist you in learning and release stored-up stress. This year you will take home some new skills for unwinding and practices for your own self-care routine.

Workshops Include: Meridian Yoga Therapy with Brytni Cheek will teach tapping techniques, acupressure, and simple yoga poses to leave you feeling refreshed after a long night of dancing. Amanda Frederick’s transformational breathwork classes will introduce you to breathing practices to help you break through any stored emotions or trauma and recalibrate your nervous system. You can also get loose with Toni Ellwell who will be demonstrating simple joint stretches of the Pawanmuktasana Series, followed by barefoot massage demos at 3 and 4 pm every day.

Goofing Around at The Kids Zone Photo Credit: Dennis “The Red” Eustace

Aimee Takaya will guide you through a gentle movement workshop to free your SOMA and create a deep sense of embodied freedom. Perhaps you want to experience a sound bath, tarot reading, or tea ceremony instead? Arizona’s own “Dewompification Station” will have a tent with pillows and calming vibes should you just need to get cozy and put your feet up. There will also be numerous massage therapists onsight as well to help you unravel any lingering knots in your body.

RonJon Tershay will be returning in 2023 to host Crystal and Tea Healing

Visionary Art: If you have never had the opportunity to witness a painting being created in real-time then you are in for a real treat. Live-painting connects the artist with the music and the community. Visionary Artists capture the beauty and magic of the moment allowing everyone around them to participate in the synergy of the moment while blending it with color on a canvas.

Amanda Sage will be Premiering New Designs in her Clothing Line at Gem and Jam 2023

“To YOU; cherished friends and family; to the beautiful, absurd, creative flow and language of the universe; and to the Global Love Tribe — gone, living, and to be: Thank You! I love you and do my best for you.” -Randal Roberts, Visionary Artist

Blake Foster, Randal Roberts and Amanda Sage are a few of the veteran artists who have pioneered the artform that will be featured this year. Those of you from out-of-state may not know that Arizona has a vibrant public art scene. This years’ fest will spotlight a notable Phoenix-based mural team that includes Ashley Macias, Shela Yu, Nyla Lee, Adrian Ramiraz and others.

Art, music, community and creative synergy are medicine for the soul. Gem and Jam is a cultural phenomena in the Sonoran Desert that has become a yearly tradition for myself and many others. Come a few days early and stay a few days late to explore the endless natural curiosities of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show also. Tickets for the festival are now available online here. Grab your most colorful outfits and a collection of your besties to come and make new memories this February 3–5 at the Pima County Fairgrounds. See you there!

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Jacob Devaney

Cultural-Creative, Media-Maker, Dreamer, Musician. Technology, Art, Science, Health, Spirituality, Culture, Community, Environment. UNIFY Co-Founder