Saturday night’s Into the Night: A Twin Peaks Art Show and Prom at the Bohéme Collectif in East Nashville was an event I had been looking forward to since I first heard about it a few weeks ago. When it came to pop culture icons being an inspiration for artists surely nothing could be a deeper well than Twin Peaks. David Lynch and Mark Frost’s twisted take on Americana revolutionized television dramas and left either an inedible impression or a state of befuddlement for the people that followed it in its original all-too-short run on network television.
As for creative inspiration, the show’s brief life left the feeling of an uncompleted masterpiece, its enormous cast of characters meant that there was volumes of untold backstory, and the very nature of the show with its surreal dreamworlds, mix of classic film noir style and pop-culture mysticism, and subtexts piled upon subtexts dealing with hidden sins, concealed sexuality, and the corrupt and seductive nature of evil meant there were endless paths to explore.
The artists whose work appeared in the show did not disappoint, with almost every piece going far beyond the artistic dead-ends of mere “fan art” or character portraiture. The work shown was in a wide variety of mediums, but all used the characters and motifs of Twin Peaks to explore or extrapolate on the mysteries at the heart of the series. I was particularly impressed by work from Adam Baker, Anjeanette Illustration, Ben Johnson, Eric Powell, La Photgraphie and Ash Sivils.
But the creative involvement went further than the artwork exhibited. There were formal performances from local burlesque artists Bettie B. Cupp, Ava Dahl and BeBe McQueen, and music from the local jumpin’ jive combo Eight O’ Five Jive, but the most impressive performance art came from the audience. A large percentage of the attendees got fully into the spirit of the event with creative costumes or idiosyncratic interpretations of characters. Although some of the more obvious characters were well represented like Laura Palmer, FBI Agent Dale Cooper or Audrey Horne, it was also amusing to see how many of the minor characters inspired recreations — from the mysterious other-worldly Giant, to crusty forensics expert Albert Rosenfield, to “Lil the Dancer” from the prequel film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. One of my favorite moments was seeing two versions of the semi-deaf FBI Bureau Chief, Gordon Cole (played by David Lynch himself in the TV series) screaming “What was that? What did you say?” at each other.
The only downside of the event was that its very success led to a capacity crowd for most of the evening, and many late-comers had to be turned away from the sold-out event. Bohéme Collectif and event organizer Valerie Harrell both deserve praise for a fascinating and entertaining event that succeeded on multiple levels. According to Harrell, there are already plans to make the Twin Peaks-themed show an annual event, because just like Laura Palmer, who was “full of secrets,” the fascination and mystery of Twin Peaks continues to inspire.