Oaktopia Art Experience Preview

Oaktopia has been blowing our minds left and right. Earlier this month Oaktopia announced adding Norah Jones to their list of impressive headliners, they talked to us on The Dentonite LIVE, and they announced the 90+ local acts added to their full schedule.

In addition to the music, there are a ton of exciting things happening in the art experience arena. Here are just a few ingredients that are in store for the next installment of Oaktopia: projection mapping, gigantic installations, modest installations, a fashion showcase, and a mixture of the most talented artists from Dallas and Denton. 

Of course now is the time that people are filling out their schedules and sorting their power rankings to figure out which bands they’re going to see. Come Oaktopia weekend, don’t forget to take some time to check out the transformation of downtown Denton thanks to the efforts of experience director Ashley Whitby. 

“My goal is to bring the community together and have people interact with each other,” says Whitby.  During last year’s Oaktopia, Whitby put together a makeup team to provided assistance to musicians performing throughout the festival weekend. She also made-over much of the crowd at Jessie Frye’s set with her team applying two variations of warpaint at $5 a pop.

Now in a much bigger role, Whitby is utilizing all of her years of event planning and building up skill sets in various mediums of art. The former UNT photography student helped build up the RAW artist showcase as a curator for their events at Gas Monkey Live. She built a brand for herself while working as an artist in Dallas, and now she’s establishing her own production company. Her immersion into the art community has allowed her to build up the resources necessary to be involved in event planning. 

The Root: Alternative Fashion Showcase will take place at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center and will provide an experience that has not been provided outside of the UNT and TWU student showcases. With the help of fashion coordinator Willie Johnson, Whitby intends to promote a positive self-body image with no weight/height requirements set for models.

Another groundbreaking experience for the city of Denton will be the projection mapping directed by Erin Trish. If you’ve attended the Aurora shows in Dallas then you have a sense of what that could look like. Meanwhile, Whitby is personally working on an installation so huge that it will be almost impossible for any Oaktopia festival goer to miss viewing it. 

If you liked Matthew Sallack's illustration of Denton that existed as a giant color mural where anyone could color in the lines, you'll be pleased to know that he's back this year providing another interactive experience. This time he's collaborating with Katie Montgomery to make a big square structure where people will be able to string up artwork made by Sallack and Montgomery however they please. Expect some living painting to also occur outside the structure.

Not only does Whitby want people to be inspired, but she hopes artists can realize they can achieve anything they set themselves to. Oaktopia began with a couple of self-motivated guys who wanted to make a big connection with the community at large. Whitby’s sense of creative expression carries this idea forward, and this little town should be just as hyped for the art experience of Oaktopia as well as the music.

In addition to what we've outlined, there are a ton of top-secret surprises in store that you won't get to witness unless you are there. Oaktopia takes places in Denton, Tx from Thursday, September, 22 - Saturday, September 24. 

Header image design by Jason Lee