Editor’s Note: Art Outside has been cancelled for 2018 due to flooding. From the organizers: “We are working to find safe, available venues in Austin for select programming; stay tuned for announcements of potential shows featuring Art Outside performers.”
Art Seen Alliance has a core team of 14 people. You may not have heard of the organization, but there’s a chance you’ve interacted with one of its creations. The alliance has constructed a solar-powered carousel for General Electric, manufactured custom beds for The Austin Motel, and built a set design for Twitter to host a show during SXSW 2017. The group has its creative hand in about every local festival you could name.
The day I visited Art Seen Alliance, Shop Director Van Zinsmeyer gave me a tour of an ACL-bound trailer his team was finishing up. The trailer is a replica, down to every last meticulous detail, of the original storehouse Tito’s Handmade Vodka used when it was first starting out. During ACL Music Festival, Tito’s used the trailer as storage space for its bar operations, in homage to its roots.
Art Seen Alliance has built stages and provided event production for Euphoria Music Festival and Sound on Sound Festival. And the geometric bear statues outside the Barton Springs JuiceLand? Art Seen Alliance made them and they are available for purchase!
Creativity Over Notoriety
If you’ve never heard of Art Seen Alliance, then it’s partly because the group doesn’t have a marketing or sales team. The alliance has flourished and grown, tripling output over the years strictly from word-of-mouth.
The creative team prefers it that way! For example, even though the JuiceLand bears are for sale, Art Seen Alliance doesn’t feel the need to install a plaque with a name or “for sale” sign. “We want people to experience the art more than we care about selling it,” Zinsmeyer told me. “And if someone really wants to buy it, they have ways of inquiring. It’s a more organic process that way.”
Art Seen Alliance’s mission is to “enable artists, make art accessible, and foster culture by providing turnkey event production and design, artist management, and fabrication services.” It’s all in the name. The organization wants art to be seen, not hidden or hoarded by an elite few. In the process, the alliance wants artists to be able to make a living, defeating the “starving artist” stereotype.
Ultimately, Art Seen Alliance is a team of commissionable artists who create unique environments and unforgettable experiences. “The biggest blessing,” Zinsmeyer said, “is that we’re not doing the same thing every day. We’re not reproducing stuff. We’re creating something every single time.”
While Zinsmeyer spends most of his time in the shop, Warren McKinney, founder and director of Art Seen Alliance, spends much of his time in the office. McKinney is an artist by trade and a natural leader. His original intent in creating the collective was simply to hold space for artists to network and create together.
The two didn’t start with a business plan. To this day, there is no defined business structure. They simply increase their level of organization in proportion to the level of creative outpouring. And although the collective has become something far larger and more different than McKinney imagined, he feels the alliance remains true to its original message and heart.
A prime example of Art Seen Alliance’s organic growth is an event called Art Outside, which the organization has directed since 2008. Before that, the collective didn’t sell any services, but Art Outside got the team noticed on a larger scale. Due to the success of Art Outside, many businesses suddenly wanted Art Seen Alliance’s help to create a variety of immersive experiences.
Art Outside by Art Seen Alliance
Every Autumn, Art Seen Alliance’s vision, passion, and principles pour into a magical, weekend-long festival. Although the group is involved in all kinds of gatherings and events, Art Outside is one project completely under the creative control of Art Seen Alliance.
The event is a “fully immersive camping festival experience with an emphasis on curated art, wellness workshops, and diverse music.” The focus is to showcase independent talent: it’s only associated with smaller, local brands and has never been sponsored by corporate money.
Musical performances are an impressive selection of dance/electronic, hip hop, funk, global and world styles, and rock/jam bands. Some examples of Austin-based musicians you can expect to see at Art Outside in 2018 are Atash, Mamafesta, The Widdler, and Michael Garfield (who doubles as a visual artist and will also be live painting at the event).
Instructors will be leading workshops on Qi gong, different styles of yoga, hoop dancing, and more. All workshops are included in the price of admission. There will also be a variety of vendors selling art, clothes, and other unique wares.
The event takes place on the sprawling plains of Apache Pass Event Center, about an hour northeast of downtown Austin.
Head to Art Outside This October
I’ve given you the hard facts about Art Outside because it’s hard to describe the feeling of waking up in a tent or RV, and venturing out into a living, breathing art installation. Every corner you turn, there is something new to marvel at and a new way of getting in touch with your playful inner child.
Also, since Art Outside takes place so close to Halloween (Oct. 26-28, 2018), you can expect to see many outlandish outfits and extravagant costumes. The event has the vibes of a radical self-expression gathering such as Burning Man, but on a smaller, family-style, and less dusty scale.
Everyone looks out for each other’s safety. Excess food is shared, not mindlessly discarded, unlike some of the larger festivals. There is also a Leave No Trace policy. Creators, art lovers, and attendees have a responsibility to care for the earth that supports the ability to make art in the first place. Art Outside is one of the cleanest, most litter-free and environmentally-friendly festivals you’ll experience.
You’re invited to see for yourself, and delight in a weekend of creation and togetherness. Learn more and get your tickets here.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Have you ever been to Art Outside?
Katrina Cervantes paints, writes, is a massage therapist, and lives with a few goats and a sweet donkey named Lucy. Keep up with her travels at passageablaze.com.