Art and Kraut: Three Austin artists are combing art and sauerkraut for a one of a kind experience

Published 7:28 am Saturday, September 22, 2018

Art, as is so often said, is in the eye of the beholder.

So too, is sauerkraut?

That’s what three Austin natives are looking to find out.

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Will and Peter Bjorndal, along with Jacob Whalen, are fusing their love of art with a love of sauerkraut in a fusion hybrid of an art presentation at the Cranbook Academy of Art in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, later this month.

This hybrid, as you may have guessed already, will combine two seemingly unrelated things in one place, which in a lot of ways is a representation of where they come from — Austin.

A poster for the art showcase Krautbrook, developed by local artist Peter Bjorndal.

“It’s going to be a fusion of elements at an elite art school,” Peter said, on a particularly sunny morning off the deck at he and Will’s family home in Austin.

In a lot of ways it’s an opportunity of a life time, as the residency and installation on Sept. 27-30 will pave the way for critique of their own work by established and rising artists.

It’s getting their work out and into the public.

“It’s a chance to be critiqued by some of the teachers,” Jacob said. “Give us some solid criticism. It’s a practical aspect of growing our craft.”

They are crafts that have already gained the trio some notoriety. Both Peter and Jacob are more bound by the visual mediums, while Will tends to entwine himself in sounds and music. All of that is coming together in this showcase that really started by reaching out to another artist.

For some time Peter has been following an artist on YouTube by the name of Elliot Earls, an artist in residence at the school.

At one point Peter reached out and asked if they could swing by his studio. Once there, the conversation drifted to creating connections and collaborations.

These are meant to be displayed as they appear at Cranbrook Academy of Art. They represent two worlds which we hope to connect at the event. Art by Peter Bjorndal

“We were invited to come back [to the school] and do our thing,” Will said.

That thing is a conceptual piece on a number of different levels that features both Peter and Jacob’s art and Will’s music.

Now, by this point you might be asking yourself, where the sauerkraut comes into play?

That is the other piece of this equation and the chance to show off to those at the school what it means to come from a smaller town.

“Taking sauerkraut … that represents Austin,” Peter said.

Both Peter and Will, along with their parents, often can be seen attending church suppers including Christ Episcopal Church’s kraut suppers, held annually.

“We love community meals,” Will said. “We’re pulling that out of Austin and putting it out there.”

What this means for anybody attending their show is a chance to experience what the trio calls artesianal krauts.

They plan to have 10 craft krauts for visitors to try, but it’s more than a food tasting. It’s part of the reality-bending aspect of the show.

“We’re bending reality,” Will explained. “Peter and I always attend the episcopal kraut supper. It’s the allure of that community meal and lifting it out of its reality.”

But it’s more than just a show and more than the sum of all its parts. In the end it all drifts back to Austin and it being the source of inspiration for all three.

“Being born here, you draw from your environment,” Jacob explained. “To not fake it, but draw inspiration from where you are. This is a place we love and appreciate.”

This piece is of the most detailed works of Jacob Whalen and out of all of them falls into a “fine art” category.
Art by Jacob Whalen

“This is a world they won’t see,” Peter said, referring to Austin. “We want to get our art out to the masses and that’s our goal for taking a small town setting to the fine art setting.”

It’s really about community when you strip away everything else. A desire to show that art can come from anywhere.

“We love sauerkraut and so when we were thinking of an idea we just decided, ‘do your thing,’” Will said. “So let’s have a community meal.”

Of course, the trio wouldn’t dream of keeping the sauerkraut to themselves. What’s the point of bringing it so far without letting others experience it as well?

“Anyone who likes Kraut can come,” Will said.

“It’s a crazy art project, but anybody can come, enjoy some kraut, win some meat,” he continued.

Oh right, forgot to mention there was a meat raffle as well.

It’s an experience, an experience the three artists are enthusiastic about sharing with the art world as well as the rest of the world in general.

Accessibility through conceptual art awareness.

“All three of us contribute conceptually,” Peter said. “We want this to be an experience.”

It’s also a testament to what can be done, even from a small town.

“If we could do things like this show, then it shows what three wacky kids from Austin can really do,” Peter said.

To listen to Will Bjorndal’s music visit: