The Sun Watcher/Peace Crane site sculpture at the Get Off the Grid Fest 2019
The centerpiece for this year’s Get Off the Grid Fest represents a melding of two geographically and temporally diverse cultural expressions-each integrally bound up with the sun and its power. The Sun Watcher is the creation of Muscogee Creek elder Tom Bluewolf who draws his inspiration from a structure that is central to the legend and lore of his tribe, has put together a multi-directional sun dial of sorts that provides the viewer with a meditative space as well as a choice of 13 courses to pursue in quest of sustainability and personal dharma. Bluewolf himself has walked many paths in his life as a song weaver for his people, a ceremonial leader, tipi maker, a minister to native-American prison inmates, the creator of the successful Earthkeepers medicinal product company and a citizen of the world who has been active in ecological issues on five continents. Inscribed within this site is the Peace Crane, the work of metal craftsman Charlie Smith whose work has been in festivals from the burning western deserts to the lush sub-tropical shores of south Florida. The sculptor takes his theme from the contemporary legend of Sadako a Japanese girl who survived the bombing of Hiroshima only to succumb at age 11 to leukemia contracted as a result of exposure to atomic radiation. Her struggle for life was embodied in her folding of hundreds of paper cranes that form the model for the sculpture. The opening day of the Get Off the Grid Fest, August 9th, marks the 74th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki and a time when schoolchildren all over Japan fold peace cranes in honor of Sadako and in hopes for an end to the devastation of atomic power and weapons. We see in this sculpture reflected both the tremendous destructive power of the sun as well as its benefits as a source of life and energy for the planet and its people.
With the aid of visual artist, Richard Hicks, Visibleman in generating images of this work the artists have sited this piece to form a Zia, a four-part compass of sorts whereby the beak of the crane rises up to cast a shadow towards one of the 13 poles of the Sun Watcher representing various icons of renewable energy and sustainability such as solar power and bicycle transportation. The wings of the crane not only create shade for festival-goers during the day but also collect solar energy in photo-voltaic cells and store this power which then lights up the sculpture at night as well as illuminating pathways that represent sustainable vectors and lead away to the four corners of the festival itself.
The piece will be unveiled in an inaugural ceremony on Friday afternoon at 5pm led by one of the festivals sponsoring organizations, Nuclear Watch South that has been dedicated to the propagation of safe energy throughout the South for the past 20 years. The invocation will feature poetry, music, a dance performance based on the story of Sadako created by movement artist Jacquelyn Howard and will culminate with a procession throughout the festival that will mark the start of the event.