Lobster Bowtie Association supports Chattanooga art scene through collaborative projects and ‘weird art’

Contributed photo by Rik Herrmann / Lobster Bowtie Association's Art's Alive! show at ClearStory Arts featured visual art along with live painting, poetry and music.

Lobster Bowtie Association is helping to bring the arts to life in Chattanooga, most recently through its Art's Alive! show that ran through January at ClearStory Arts featuring visual art along with live poetry, music and painting.

The association consists of Rik Herrmann and Jerett Offutt -- the "head lobsters" -- and a host of various collaborators, though it's still in its infancy.

"The thing I like about Lobster Bowtie Association is the collaborative, cooperative aspect of it because it gets you out of your comfort zone, and you're able to achieve things that you couldn't get to by yourself," Herrmann said.

In addition to producing gallery shows, the association also produces music, podcasts and live performances, publishes books of poetry and is in the early stages of producing a line of toys. Basically, its role is to serve local creatives and help them bring their projects to life.

"We want to provide environments for artists to feel good doing their own work, their own creativity, whatever that is," Herrmann said. The support Lobster Bowtie lends may include funding, curating, producing or designing posters to promote a project. "We want to help continue to fuel the creative Chattanooga artistic scene. It's fantastic, it's fertile. We have world-class talent right here in Chattanooga."

  photo  Contributed photo by Rik Herrmann / Lobster Bowtie Association's Art's Alive! show at ClearStory Arts.

The group's name was chosen mainly because it's eye-catching and makes people question its meaning, which is multilayered, Offutt said.

"It's like nonsense, dadaism. It's subverting everything about what art is and can be," Offutt said, adding that it can mean different things to different people.

Members are working now on a body of collaborative visual art for a gallery show that will happen "relatively soon," but they have yet to set a date. They are also producing a monthly podcast, "Dandy Chase and the Abominable Case," with beat poetry and sci-fi influences. They recently published a poetry book, "All Voices Heard," of works by members of the weekly poetry group Herrmann leads at Wanderlinger, and Offutt's band, Shaky's Bad Knee, is in the process of recording an album produced by the association.

In the future, they hope to secure grant funding for a physical space where they can invite artists to create and collaborate. While the association is not actively searching for new artists, Herrmann said current members feel confident the concept will grow organically.

Follow their projects on Instagram @lobsterbowtie.art.

  photo  Contributed photo by Rik Herrmann / People view works in the Arts Alive! exhibit at ClearStory Arts.