Art Outside

Taking art to another place

For some, "art" can be a terrifying word. Art is that stuff that hangs in galleries and museums, yes? The stuff that adorns the walls in waiting rooms and lobbies, right? Art is for the inside, not the outside. Unless you're Tyler Hanson. Hanson has spent the last 10 years roaming the country, organizing new and original art shows. A couple of years ago, when his friend Albert DeLoach purchased a few acres of forested land smack-dab in the middle of Austin on West Bouldin Creek, close to the corner of Oltorf and South Lamar, and dubbed it the Enchanted Forest, Hanson took one look and said, "Let's put on a show!"

"Art Outside is a model of how to reinvent the art show by taking art and placing it outside of its normal context, its normal box," says Hanson. "And in the Enchanted Forest, we have the opportunity to take people to another place, to create another world. You walk in here, and you have no idea what you're going to see. The whole forest is full of this art, this creation."

Hanson's not exaggerating. The wood is filled with 120 plots, each occupied by a different visual artist or group of artists. They work in mixed media, multimedia, photography, acrylics, pottery, oils, and pen and ink. One artist draws only on the pages of the New York Times; another makes exquisite pottery. They have folks working in embroidery, watercolor, Prismacolor, wire art, and sculpture. They have collage, decoupage, stained glass, etching, and jewelry. They have printmakers, illustrators, costumers, and installations, art you can enter into and be surrounded by.

And that's only the beginning. They have a dozen children's workshops and, on weekend afternoons, bunches of performances for kids, including juggling, unicycling, and a drum class. In the evenings they have stuff for grownups, with more than 30 bands rotating in and out, playing on a stage overlooking the creek. "Plus, we have strolling bands like the Sour Mash Hug Band or the International Troubadours or the Dolomites," says Hanson. "We have dance performances. We have a troupe called RAD; they do spoken-word dance performance. We have a group called Dingus Kahn; they're in cocoons dancing, and we project onto them at night. We have comedians, spoken-word artists, and slam poets. We're going to have a Poet's Cafe with Thom the World Poet. We have the Baruzaland Shadow Puppet Theater every night at midnight with a harp player and a live band." For a complete listing of artists and events, visit www.artoutside.org.

Given the mere pittance they're charging at the gate, they can't be raking in much dough. So why the massive undertaking? "Because we need it," says Hanson. "The world needs art. Art is the best way to communicate the sign of the times, the madness of the times, explain our ongoing reality. Art has always been the leader of the revolution." Or perhaps more simply, as participant Mason McFee, a printmaker and illustrator, says, "I like to make art; you should, too."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Art Outside, Tyler Hanson, Albert DeLoach, the Enchanted Forest, Sour Mash Hug Band, International Troubadours, Dolomites, Dingus Kahn, Thom The World Poet, Baruzaland Shadow Puppet Theater, Mason McFee

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