Hutchmoot recap

I wasn’t the typical attendee at this little conference quite ingeniously called a Hutchmoot — which seemed to at times mostly like an Andrew Peterson fan club. I’m not saying this is good or bad, but I didn’t really know who Andrew Peterson was before this trip (though I had heard a couple of his songs at some point). So the excitement over being at one of his release concerts Friday evening was lost on me. Further, I wasn’t subscribed to the Rabbit Room blog, which was the driving force behind the moot, until after my wife had registered us.

So far as I know, I was the only visual artist at the Hutchmoot other than Evie Coates, who Rabbit Roomer Pete Peterson, Andrew’s brother, lovingly cajoled into hanging a show of new work and giving a gallery talk (95% of the attendees went to a literature session during the talk instead), despite the wonderfully overwhelming task of cooking for the delegates (which she did a fabulous job of). I was glad though to meet the lady who edits the Stoneworks publication on the last day, Jennifer Trafton. She had spent most of the conference trying to remember why my name was familiar before finding the chance to ask.

Hutchmoot for me was mostly three things:

The Walt Wangerin keynote. I really had no idea who this guy was, other than an author, before this. And he didn’t say much that we didn’t already know, which he kept telling us. I didn’t get all that much out of the weekend related to story like I was hoping, with the exception of Wangerin’s keynote. My wife took notes that I’m going to have to look over later. I wrote down three quotations (some significant paraphrasing involved per my notes):

When art works, it becomes the cosmos [alive] for a while. – Walt Wangerin

You have to know your medium’s history and tradition (all of art moves over a little bit when you create a new work.) – T.S. Eliot

If we think we can create out of nothing, all we’ll create are monsters. – C.S. Lewis

Evie Coates, both her cooking and her artwork. Her assemblages represent a direction my own work could have very easily gone with the use of a variety of rusty found objects. I learned during the course of scattered conversation we were able to have that she has strong family ties to Siloam Springs. Her dad is actually a John Brown University graduate.

Kenny Hutson, a name I had probably read at some point in some Over the Rhine liner notes but didn’t really know. In the scheme of the Hutchmoot, Kenny played what most attendees would consider a very minor role, playing in Andrew Peterson’s band, but I was excited to hear someone who tours regularly with Over the Rhine.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

6 Responses to Hutchmoot recap

  1. Hey Paul,

    I’m glad you were able to come to the Hutchmoot, even if it wasn’t the experience for you that it was for others. I wish it had been more to your liking.

    It was interesting to me that you felt like it was sometimes an Andrew Peterson fan club. I don’t know if you have begun reading the Rabbit Room, but I personally would not describe it that way. I guess if I came to a church the first time, I might think of the congregation as the fan club of that particular pastor. But then, once I hung around, I would begin to see it as much more than that. That is kind of what the Rabbit Room is for me. Andrew is the guy who brought us together, but he is almost never the topic of our conversations.

    So, if you are still interested, I’d encourage you to hang around the Rabbit Room a bit more and see if you still get that vibe.

    Once again, so glad you came.


    • pcNielsen says:

      To say the conference wasn’t to my liking is a bit strong. It was pretty much what I expected. The focus of the Rabbit Room is literature and music from what I’ve been able to tell (Pete and I had a bit of this conversation via email before I came, but my wife had already registered us anyway.). As a visual artist I knew I might not find as much to talk about with others as, say, my wife did.

      And FWIW it’s not the Rabbit Room that feels like the fan club, just the moot. And like I said, that’s not necessarily something I have a problem with, but that was something I didn’t expect.

      The Rabbit Room is in my feed reader now though, and is the kind of blog that I should like if I can find the time to read it.

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  4. Paul,

    My wife Cherie and I ran into another couple who had no connection to the Rabbit Room other than Andrew. You came at this from the other way. That is what I really appreciated about the event. I had no expectations for it other than the gathering of artists and the people who love them. My wife directs a small arts academy so I’m exposed to the good, bad and ugly of this community all the time. I often call her the Chief Cat Shepherd as managing artists is a lot like herding cats. 🙂

    I really wish I had heard Evie’s talk. We cut out on Saturday afternoon to take a break. All in all, what I took away from the event was the joy of being with so many folks that I’d not met in person but only in the Rabbit Room and new folks as well – like Sam Smith’s brother Josiah who is even funnier than Sam; which is no small thing.

    Take heart, the Rabbit Room is a place for all artists. Andrew probably just needs a nudge to expand the palette a bit. There have been posts on things other than literature and music, but the Rabbit Room is also about commerce. So, books and music get more attention in order to keep the Rabbit Room viable. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be more posts on the whole scope of the arts and maybe Andrew will work you into the rotation of contributors? Give him a shout. I, for one, love to hear different voices in the Room.



    • pcNielsen says:

      I think Pete thought I was offering to write from another visual artistic perspective for the Rabbit Room when we corresponded before the moot. Sounds like fun, but I didn’t respond to that since I’ve hardly had time to post to The Aesthetic Elevator over the past 6 months. Evie is fully capable, but just seems to be way outnumbered by other types. I had no idea so many people contributed to the blog.

      Evie’s talk was more a brief Q & A session than a talk, but, yeah, you shoulda been there ;p

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