by Taryn Oesch
Juggling -Hoops-Piercing -Fetish – These are words not usually associated with art, but they are exactly the kinds of art Brenn Hill had in mind when he created the Triangle Alternative Arts Collective (AAC) in 2011.
When Brenn, a bodypainter, went to alternative arts performances or exhibits by his friends, he found sparse audiences and a disorganized community. So he started the collective simply as a way to bring alternative artists and their supporters together, to “get the word out,” and to protect artists from scams and fraud. The organization grew and was incorporated as a nonprofit in January.
A member of the Collective described the alternative arts as “art without a home,” and Brenn says that phrase is a good descriptor. Mainstream arts find a home in such places as museums, galleries, and theatres; alternative arts are those that cannot be found on a school field trip. Alternative artists are people who challenge the definition of art and expand the boundaries of what’s already out there.
Visiting the website of the AAC is an experience in itself. It proclaims that it promotes “live art and public expression of the amazing” – a lofty goal that seems to be carried out by its groups, which include acrobatics, vaudeville, gothic and industrial music, gaming, jazz dance and swing, and steampunk music. The site, which is getting an update soon, also includes information on how to get involved with the collective, which is looking for volunteers to help with events, reporting, and promotions as well as new board members. Brenn stresses that the organization strives to live up to its name, as artists and volunteers give their time and talent to the organization and receive something back as well. The Collective also has a great need for professionals, such as lawyers, to help artists with contracts and marketing professionals to help artists promote their work.
In only one year, the AAC has grown from 80 to 500 members, and attendance at performances and events has swelled. Brenn says he’s also seen an increase in energy in the alternative arts community.
COLLECTIVE MEMBERS INCLUDE DIVERSE ART FORMS
Lady Violet Arcane is a very active member of the alternative arts community. She is a member of the Succubus Sorority, a performance troupe with skills ranging from hooping to fire breathing, and burlesque shows to fetish performances. Lady Violet is a performer, dancer, costumer, model, and choreographer. As a model, and in keeping with the ethos of the AAC, she specializes in alternative styles of photos not typically seen in the usual arts venues – what she describes on her Model Mayhem page as “counter-culture niches.” These photo demonstrates both the beauty and the distinctiveness of her work. The photo to the left shows the gracefulness we can presume carries through to her performances, while to photo below is an example of the unique costuming and posing that one could only find in an alternative arts group.
Creek Walker Art, by Harnett County Arts Council member Jason Morris, comes from nature – literally. The pig’s head, made of driftwood, while reminiscent of Georgia O’Keefe’s cow’s skull, is still not what you’d call mainstream art. Rather, it is a one-of-a-kind piece that fits what Brenn calls the “fuzzy” definition of alternative art.
John Horowitz says he believes that photography can “be a serenely soft media, not only hiding our faults but becoming a fantasy as well.” In his work, he tries to balance “technical competence” with “aesthetic clarity,” often changing back and forth between film and digital cameras. This photograph demonstrates the often overlooked beauty that erotic photography can convey.
Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, another member of the AAC, exemplifies the aesthetic of the alternative arts by promoting “artistic debauchery” and “all the darkly beautiful oddities the hearts of Raleigh artists desire.” The phrase “darkly beautiful oddities” is a lovely and apt description of the many artists who have found a home for their art with Brenn Hill and the Triangle Alternative Arts Collective.
Taryn is a writer and recovering band geek who still loves music and all the arts. She graduated from Meredith College in 2010 and then moved down the street to work for NC State. In her free time, she plays the piano and battles for apartment space with her uncontrollable collection of books. You can reach Taryn firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: body painting, Brenn Hill, burlesque, Dr. Sketchy Anti-Art School, John Horowitz, Lady Violet Arcane, Triangle Alternative Arts Collective