You may have heard of BYOB parties, but until today I had never heard of a BYOA show. The Cottonwood Club has been introducing innovative concepts like the Bring Your Own Art Show in Bozeman since its founding in 2010 by Dalton C. Brink.
According to Brink, “The BYOA shows came about organically. They needed to happen, so they grew. It seemed a pretty obvious idea. With so many talented artists in and around the valley and with such a limited venue to get their work out — including myself — I figured it’d be a good way to facilitate discussion among everyone.”
This year’s BYOA show will be at the Cottonwood Club, 213 S. Wallace, on April 19 at 7 p.m. Brink said, “We open the doors at 7 p.m. and the show slowly forms throughout the night. You may see an award-winning poet read from their newest book or see a performance piece from a student. Anything and everything could happen.”
The show functions as an artist-built gallery. On a first-come, first-serve basis artists practicing in any medium are invited to the space to display their work. However much space there is on the walls and in the room is how much art will be shown.
Brink invites everyone to participate. He said, “Anyone can do it. There’s nothing that thrills us more than seeing something we’ve never thought to see. Inspiration comes to me when I see someone else doing something that speaks to me on a personal level. The human element is an inspiration for me and I don’t think I’m the only one.”
Speaking with Brink, I felt a character fueled by inspiration and creativity. His show is an extension of that; “What makes the BYOA shows different from most other art shows is the absolute lack of censorship of the work displayed,” Brink said.
He runs The Cottonwood Club by a similar bohemian ideal, leaving future shows up in the air. He said, “[We] try to limit how often we host them to a couple times a year. It allows the events to stay fresh.”
Reflecting on the show he said, “It’s a place of complete freedom for the artists involved and the audience as well. That’s the central idea of The Cottonwood Club. The BYOA shows are simply evolutionary.”