Art Alliance Austin is your entry point to the Austin art scene.

They connect you to the arts in Austin through their weekly listing of exhibition openings, through many events across the year, and through intimate introductions to local gallerists, artists, and collectors.

ARTBASH is Art Alliance Austin's fall fundraiser. Each ticket sale, art sale, and donation helps the organization reach their goal of establishing Austin as the leading art marketplace in Texas. Their work throughout the year consists of connecting the community to the arts here in Austin, partnering with all fine art organizations and artists, big and small, established and emerging. 

This year's event featured a mixture of projects and performances curated by Andrea Faye Hyland and Seth Orion Schwaiger located at Austin's premier downtown event venue, The Belmont. To curate the event Art Alliance worked closely with Hyland and Schwaiger to develop a night of fun & fantasy by creating interaction between the artists, the installations and the guests. The duo described the concept to be "loosely based around dreams as a point-of-departure for artists and curators. The theme allows artists the freedom to explore a variety of themes, some darker, others erotic, and still others surreal." 

At Jason Archer's Butterscotch Bunny Photo Booth, guests had the opportunity to emerge themselves in character. Dressed as Jesus Cornbread & the Alcoholics and Stray of the Dead characters, the photo booth captured the magical night ahead.    

The event began with the ARTBASH Dinner reception where guests enjoyed an exclusive preview of the exhibition / event and a more intimate opportunity to meet select artists, partners, and curators. Austin-based songwriter and musician Dana Falconberry offered a private performance. 

Upon walking into the vibrantly lit venue, attendees were greeted by a performer dressed in an intricate representation of a 'live' rag doll. As part of Members of Crash Alchemy's performance throughout the night this artistic troupe galavanted around the venue throughout the event entertaining all. In "blending creativity and technology to define new perspectives," Crash Alchemy "inspires audiences through performance storytelling to create live transformational events."

One of the first installations titled, The Quality or Condition, displayed a large ceramic portrait that lined the ivy wall in the entryway. Created by Backstop Art Collective, their mixed media installation consisted of masks that simulated the childhood game of 'telephone.' The portrait offered "individual audio providing viewers and listeners the capability to create their own personalized experience." The Austin based collective blends music, visual art, and storytelling into a cohesive and immersive multi-sensory experiences. This fascinating installation prompted childhood memories as I listened to the audio playing in my ear through the 'headphone' type device. I was reminded of the scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory when you went to hang your coat and the hooks were live hands.  

Another piece titled, Smoke and Mirrors, by Elizabeth McDonald, featured mixed media pieces including oil on canvas, acrylic and mylar. Her work is primarily concerned with "the role of ritual as a human invention to intercede and manipulate power differentials that would otherwise remain outside one's control."

The following installation was conveniently located near the bar by the stairs where we sampled one of The Belmont's featured cocktail creations for the event. With a festive drink in hand, I was ready to check out the synthetic hair pieces created by artist, Christina Coleman. Her Untitled piece reworked synthetic braided hair, human hair, steel, and accessories such as barrettes, to "build weapons and totemic objects of ritual power to explore issues of disenfranchisement, survival, empowerment, and religion." 

The highlight of the event featured a multimedia installation by Co-Lab Projects featured artists, Natalie Bradford, Tsz Kam, and Kate Wilson. This installation titled, Naming Your Baby in the Garden of Digital Delights, was set up on the main stage where the artists used their creative backdrop to "explore the genesis of fantasy with particular focus on the profound implications of our increasingly digital reality and the changing notion of girlhood in our present and future time." Blending the lines between fantasy & fun, the artist's installation set the tone for the many creative performances of the night. 

Bradford utilizes printmaking and painting to examine parallels between feminine, human bodies and non-human, animal bodies in relation to modes of production and consumption. Through multimedia work, Kam explores the relationship between their queer gender identity and an exotified feminine body existing in the West. Wilson makes objects using methodologies that mimic those she learned studying sociocultural anthropology. Her prints, drawings and multimedia sculptures organize data she has collected into visual systems of information in order to question the legibility and rationality of these modes of communication.

As the fantasy continued throughout the venue, viewers were taken from surrealism to a more erotic state with Terri Thomas' work. Front and center featured a embossed panther titled, Ebony (Big Black Powerful Pussy) with over 54, 720 Swarovski crystal covering the creature. The erotic theme hit a climax with one of the most talked about installations, Shane & Sia Room.

Decked out with an old, hand-me-down recliner, sexy calendar, a dirty ashtray, and boobie lamp the additional props such as an open jar of Vaseline and tissue referred to Thomas' investigation into beauty, felinity, sexuality, and mortality. Building upon clever references to art, Thomas draws upon her extensive experience in the fashion industry as point of departure and questions the commodification of desire and industry set standards of beauty.   

The event showcased an assortment of visual art, music, and noteworthy performances by some of Austin's most talented artists. From the works of poet A.R. Rogers, Bob Schneider's mixed media pieces, and Rebecca Marion's exploration of the importance of motherhood in her work, many artists presented exciting works of art in a multitude of mediums.

The Art Alliance would like to thank you for your support, membership, and sponsorship. If you are not yet a member of the Alliance we invite you to become one today. Head to the Art Alliance Austin page to find out more information!

To book your next event head to The Belmont

Photography: Jessica Faye