Kickin’ It: A pair of artists turns a life-changing outdoor festival experience in to a life project

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From the May 30, 2013 edition

In the backyard of their Clintonville-area home, Greg Ignasiak and Rae Liebtag are making a 15-foot-tall dome designed to look like a jellyfish. The neighbors don’t seem to notice the blue PVC pipe and parachute construction anymore. It’s hard to be mad at something with dangling sequined tentacles.

The couple is the brains behind Kickin’ It, a group of friends who make installation and performance party art. Kickin’ It is creating the setting for this Friday’s dance party blowout DRAUMA; expect giant flowers, a psychedelic geometry light room, a ceiling fabric sculpture and a colorful DJ booth backdrop.

After their first visit to week-long music and art festival Burning Man, Ignasiak and Liebtag started building Kickin’ It.

“[Burning Man] can really empower you to do things you didn’t think you could do,” Ignasiak said. “It’s about living a life dedicated to expression, inclusion and creativity.”

Four years after their Burning Man revelation, Kickin’ It has a six-festival stop schedule, lovingly dubbed “Kickin’ Its Jelly Dome Aqua Summer Disco Summer Tour.” It includes their dome’s first stay at the legendary festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, where the Kickin’ It party place will twinkle with 800 blue lights, kiddie swimming pools, mist machines and a DJ.

The pair travels to the festivals in a 16-foot box truck emblazoned on the back with the former owner’s business name, Cat Jammies. Kickin’ It’s art is equally fun and unexpected as the package it arrives in, at once belonging to everyone but no one at the same time.

Kickin’ It frequently hosts Inspiration Manifestation parties, often at Rumba Cafe, where partygoers are encouraged to interact with the art on hand and even make their own (one IM’s “cover charge” to get into the party was to strap on some goggles and stand in front of a fan that blew ash from Burning Man on you). An annual blowout called Frequinox, this year at Via Vecchia, is a Kickin’ It design that uses art sculptures, live paintings and circus acts to set the celebratory mood of the new spring season.

“It’s fun to see adults expressing themselves so fully,” Liebtag said of the atmosphere at Kickin’ It events.

Ignasiak and Liebtag are using their success with Kickin’ It to start another project with the same group of friends who help them make and set up their art. The Mooper Scoopers, as they call themselves (Moop stands for matter out of place), dress up in superhero costumes and pick up trash in public spaces once a week.

Photo by Will Shilling