Unhinged exhibit pushes boundaries with immersive art from local artists

By Janelle Fisher
Personal editor
The Unbalanced exhibition, a culmination of the work of over 60 local artists representing a wide variety of art forms and mediums, is sure to be a memorable event for all attendees, as the exhibit pieces take attendees on a multi-sensory journey through the arts.

But what is the Unhinged exhibition?
Kent Hutchison, exhibition director, said the uniqueness of the Unhinged exhibition makes this question difficult to answer.

“The Unhinged exhibit is hard to define, and it’s kind of intentional,” he said. “One way to describe what Unhinged is is to describe what it is not. It’s not a traditional gallery art show,” he said. “This is not a traditional show in a formal venue. This is a collaboration of 65 different artists to deliver a highly immersive and experiential art exhibit. It’s very organized and it’s very intentional.

Hutchison said a big part of what makes Unhinged so unique is that the variety of artists and art forms involved keeps viewers waiting for what they’ll see next. The artists featured in the exhibition span all disciplines of creative expression – from theatrical arts, performing arts, musical arts, two-dimensional and three-dimensional visual arts, culinary arts and everything in between.

“You kind of experience the exhibition, not knowing what’s around the corner,” he said. “And that incorporates that sense of excitement and nervousness that we’re trying to capture with this exhibit.”

One thing the pieces in the Unhinged exhibit have in common, Hutchison said, is that they each create an immersive experience for the audience.

“There’s all kinds of crazy art based on experience,” he said. “So you’ll come face to face with a drag/horror/punk artist doing a performative piece, then you’ll be swept up in a modern take on traditional ballet sur pointe, then you’ll turn around, and almost in the same instant, to be involved in these visual and auditory installations that depict all sorts of facets of society – one of which is the internalized horror of cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

Hutchison also said Unhinged has exhibits to invoke all of the senses, including taste.

“We deliver food in different ways,” Hutchison said. “We have two different culinary artists who are going to do culinary art demonstrations on site. And we’re not talking about how to cut an onion. We’re talking about spreading purees on a giant four-foot spiral graffiti table or eating on an edible mural that you dip in sauces. It’s all of these traditional ideas that are delivered in a non-traditional way.

Return of COVID
Hutchison said Unhinged’s debut actually took place in 2018 and was well received, but COVID thwarted organizers’ plans to hold another event in 2020.

“It’s such a shame,” he said, “because we had a lot of momentum coming out of 2018 – it was this weird event that was well-received. And now we’re kind of starting over again. zero in 2022. Nobody understands what Unhinged is anymore.

Although COVID threw a wrench into the plans for the lopsided exhibits, Hutchison said the focus of the exhibit remained the same.

“It was [started] to give the Bay Area not only a really fantastic artistic experience, but also to highlight the level of professional creative talent that we have in this field,” he said. “So working together, all of these artists from different disciplines come together in one space and collaborate to deliver this unique event that reflects our creative spirit in our creative identity, and that’s really something spectacular. It’s something to celebrate.

Hutchison said Unhinged helps create an art-based identity for the region.

“We’re not all in the Packers, and some of us want to be identified in a different way,” he said. “And embracing our arts and cultural identity is something that comes through Unhinged. We try to capitalize on and celebrate our arts and our creative identity.

Building community support for the arts
An important part of Unhinged, Hutchison said, is how it supports participating artists financially.
“Every artist gets paid, and coming out of the COVID pandemic, artists have been disproportionately impacted by the downturn in economic activity, so all of the artists that are there benefit financially from ticket sales and people participating in Unhinged,” he said. “We asked each of these artists to bring something new and fresh to our space, and they are all compensated for it. People’s participation in Unhinged directly line the pockets of artists.

Hutchison said showing support for local artists through events like Unhinged is the first step in building and celebrating the region’s artistic community.

“It has so many different ripple effects in our community, like if artists can rely on their community to pay them to do what they do, then they’re going to do more,” he said. “And then our community will benefit. It also comes back to our community tenfold with the retention of talented young people, economic development, quality of life, all of these things are directly affected by our ability to fund art in our community. So that’s what Unhinged does. We fund artists and it gives back to our community.

Hutchison said the best way to help those benefits come to fruition is to show support for the arts community by attending events like Unhinged.

“We’ve done pretty well this year so far – we’ve had some good sponsorship partners come forward and have received grants – and so artists are going to be supported,” he said. “We just need Green Bay to show up. We need the Bay Area to show up and come to this event and see what we are.

The Unhinged exhibition will be open at the Weidner Center on the evenings of October 21 and 22.
A full list of featured artists and ticket information is available at unhingedexhibition.com.

James C. Tibbs