A creative encounter like nothing we’ve ever experienced.
I knew it was going to be a wild night when I was greeted by a larger-than-life metal bull sculpture and a drum line before reaching the check-in table. Then I entered the elevator to find myself face-to-face with a violinist and traveled five floors up while fighting the urge to interrupt his performance and ask him a million questions. It was only because he looked so young and I had never enjoyed such an intimate concert before. The elevator doors opened, and the sweet smell of seafood and bourbon smacked me square in the face. Before I could even purchase a drink, a drag queen walked by wearing a giant whoopee cushion. I was delighted to find I had walked off the streets of Green Bay and into a funhouse that would make Willy Wonka feel right at home (“little surprises around every corner, but nothing dangerous!”). Only it wasn’t make-believe. It was Catalyst. Here’s a short list of my observances at the sold out, first-ever and most-awesome Green Bay art show.
First, let me elaborate on the whoopee cushion. An entertainer who goes by the name Tammi Truckstop indeed pulled out all the stops in a few acts throughout the night. I missed the first act because I was standing in line for a beverage, but I bumped into him later in the evening and he shared that he’s been in Green Bay for a few years and performs all around town.
The event took place on the vacant sixth floor of the Watermark building downtown Green Bay. Views of downtown, the Fox River and Lambeau Field off in the distance quickly reminded me that I hadn’t actually teleported to a gallery in Tribeca when I stepped out of the elevator. An hour into the event, the setting summer sun turned the concrete playground a moody shade of marmalade, making the space extraordinarily dreamy.
Dance breaks! Several times throughout the evening a gong would sound to signal the start of a dance performance and a crowd would gather in the middle of the space. These moments were the most poetic and profound of the whole evening.
The food was also on exhibit – from shrimp served on fish hooks (which diners would then add to a wire mobile hanging in the middle of the space) and raw scallops to dry-cured meats and cheeses covering upcycled tree branches and wood slabs, which I will affectionately call the charcuterie tree. I sipped on a champagne, Cocchi Americano (it’s OK, I had to Google it, too) and lemon cocktail throughout the night while my friends chose the cognac, bourbon, lemon, thyme and saline spirit. The honorable mention goes to the honeycomb, which I scraped my crostini across more times than I’m comfortable admitting and then topped with blue cheese. After the sun went down, there was a live culinary art demo by Chris Mangless of Three Three Five and the Traveling Chef, Aaron Morse of Black & Tan Grille, and Kelly Qualley of Hinterland Brewery. They plated (or rather, tabled) the shit out of a deconstructed caprese salad (see photos and videos). Then we all got to eat it. This was real life.
Milwaukee musician Lex Allen soulfully serenaded guests into the evening. It didn’t take long for him to turn strangers into fans. He had everyone chanting along with him at the end of his song Cream and Sugar: “You’re more than your skin tone, you’re more than your flesh… you’re the best, you’re the best.” No, Lex, you’re the best.
Last but not at all least, the art on display was a mixed bag of salvaged metal sculptures, paintings and graffiti, and projection mapping. Featured artists included: fnnch, Dave Windey, Dave Compton Wolff of Dave Razor Designs, Aime Kesler of Fluorescent City, Beau Thomas of Trackside Design, Scott Cook of Earth & Blood, Casey Early-Kruger, Peter Koury, Matt Bero of Look Up Art and Kent Hutchinson of Hutch Custom Designs. Bero and Hutchinson were the masterminds behind the event, which was organized to raise money for Art on Main, a public art program of the Olde Main Street District in Green Bay. They set out to be a creative spark and to show the community a few things we had never seen before. Mission accomplished, gentlemen.
Catalyst took place on Saturday, September 10. To learn more, visit www.catalystartshow.com.
Catalyst came to life on Saturday and what an amazing turnout! I can’t say thank you enough to the amazing artists, chefs, volunteers, and sponsors that came together to support this event. There’s amazing talent here, and because of this event, more of them are coming out of the cracks. I’m so proud of everyone and every piece of this adventure. It’s been a wild freaknasty ride! ☺️???????? THANK YOU! Who’s up for round 2?
Text: Alison Mayer
Photos: Jacob Miller