To provide a venue and outlet for unconventional, under-represented and emerging artists, writers and musicians in the Seacoast, NH area through publications, multimedia events, open markets, exhibitions, discussions, workshops and community projects.
First formed as an after-school art club in 2003, Wrong Brain has always served as a tool to fill the gaps in the seacoast creative community. At age 15, Sam Paolini was making and hanging collage posters to advertise Wrong Brain in the halls of Exeter High School. A crew of about 6 young artists and musicians would meet at Sam’s parents’ house in Brentwood to read Juxtapoz magazine, watch anime and make collages. WB reformed in 2010 as a publication featuring submissions from NH, MA & ME underground and emerging artists and writers. After returning from an anxiety-filled two years at Massachusetts College of Art, Sam was disappointed with the lack of zines and alternative art opportunities back in Exeter, NH.
The release of the first zine propelled Wrong Brain into a collective organization. Cody John Laplante, a poetry contributor, offered his talents as Literary Editor. Musician Greg Baldi curated the first audio compilation featuring recorded local music and spoken word, to be included in zine #2. Interest in WB grew; people reached out with ideas, money, and help: free color copies from work, web space, distribution, places to host fundraisers and release parties. The zines could be found, for free, in local businesses in Exeter, Newmarket, Dover, Portsmouth, Kittery, Rochester, and Durham.
In April 2011, the first Zine Release Party took place at the Paolini residence in Brentwood, NH, and featured free copies of zine #5, artists displaying and selling work, and bands performing.
After #5, zine production was put on hold to focus on personal work and other community events. As a result of poor success at traditional holiday craft fairs, Sam desired an alternative art market on the Seacoast. The first Holidaze Bizaare took place in December 2012 in the first floor hallways of the Newmarket Mills. Local emerging and underground artists, crafters and vintage vendors sold their goods to hundreds of patrons as local singer/songwriters performed. The Holidaze Bizaare has since moved to the Millspace Center for Art in the lower level of the Newmarket Mills, has occurred annually on the second Saturday of December and offered a pop-up gallery, 30+ vendors, free table space for local charities, live music, art installations and zine distro.
After the two year hiatus to focus on their own work, the core WB crew of Sam, Greg and Cody put out a call for submissions for zine #6. An epic zine release party took place at Sonny’s in Dover, with poetry readings, comedy, live bands, live painting, art vendors and free copies of #6, which included the third audio CD of local music.
Between 2012-2016, Wrong Brain threw dozens of multimedia art events featuring art exhibitions, vendors, poetry readings, comedy, music, live painting & drawing, collaborative art activities, public art, projections and installations. With participants, contributors, sponsors and supporters in the hundreds, Wrong Brain began to research becoming an official non-profit organization.
In April 2015, just a few months after the release of the 7th zine, Cody John Laplante lost his life to heroin. Wrong Brain lost a visionary and a driving force of its committee and community. With over a thousand dollars of donations coming in Cody’s honor, WB was forced to take that leap into legitimacy and became a NH state recognized nonprofit. The first themed zine, “I Need More Dope: Heroin, Addiction & Recovery” was published that summer, with dozens of submissions about the triumphs and losses of the heroin epidemic and addiction in NH. The zine still proves to be a powerful and necessary resource for outreach and copies will continue to be printed and distributed for free.
In Fall 2015, Wrong Brain began to collaborate with Salty Speakers, Dover-based music booking and publishing group, to provide venues for local and touring alternative live music. Occupying basements, art studios, and attics proved to be an exciting but short-lived solution to the bigger problem: lack of affordable, open-minded, small public venues for punk and experimental live music in the area.
Wrong Brain sculptor, vendor, and supporter Bailey Lewton offered his art studio in the Washington Street Mills in Dover for meetings and some shows. The first open table discussion (on racism and cultural appropriation in the local art and music scene) took place at Bailey’s, along with some committee meetings, and one poetry and live music show. In December 2015, Bailey informed WB that he was moving with his family to South Carolina. The opportunity to take over his lease was presented.
With 4-6 artists paying monthly studio rent and WB receiving donations from events, the studio space was affordable, and motions were made to keep the space. Through some lease restrictions with the neighboring tenant; Mills management and WB decided Headquarters would be better suited in a different suite on the 4th floor of the main building. This move benefitted WB with more space, handicap accessibility, and no noise restrictions for live music on nights and weekends.
Wrong Brain Headquarters now serves as private studios for 8 artists and a community work space and stage for events. Each month there are 10-15 different art, music, educational and entertainment events open to the public.
WB is still entirely volunteer run and dependent on donations and fundraising to function. Our current team has 40+ loyal volunteers and 1,000+ artistic participants.