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The body electric 

Body Packaging III set for stun at City Auditorium

click to enlarge Who says you need to wear whats in the bag?
  • Who says you need to wear whats in the bag?

One of Colorado Springs' most universally loved and talked-about art events returns on Saturday as Body Packaging III: Identity Crisis takes over the City Auditorium for what promises to be a spectacular evening of far-out fashions from the far corners of local artists' imaginations.

Though all of the art presented at Body Packaging will be worn by models (or the artists themselves) and paraded down a runway, don't come expecting a fashion show, said organizers Varya Tudor and Jacquie Rogers. At least, not exactly.

"It isn't about fashion; it's about how we package ourselves for the world," said Tudor. "It's about the way we market who we are. ... We use people of all shapes, sizes and genders. ... It's about celebration of the body, and the body is there."

Originally conceived in 1997 when Gerry Riggs, director of the Gallery of Contemporary Art at UCCS, offered to let Tudor, Rogers and their other collaborator, Lindsay Ray, guest curate a show. The group of women wanted to do something with the gallery space that would "take the art off the walls," said Tudor, and "involve all kinds of artists" -- not just visual artists or costumers, but artists from all conceivable mediums and beyond.

When they staged the first Body Packaging at the GCA in 1998, the response from both artists and the community was so overwhelming that the gallery was filled to capacity and organizers were forced to turn people away.

Both Tudor and Rogers believe the overwhelming response is attributable to the fact that no one else is showing anything quite like it, and -- because everyone wears clothes in some form or another -- it's simply "easier for people to see art if models are wearing it."

After the huge success of the first Body Packaging event at the GCA, both artists and art lovers in the community began to demand another show. The group obliged and hosted second event at the City Auditorium (to allow for larger crowds) in 2000.

The show's nearly universal appeal has created the demand for more shows, said Tudor.

Now, three years later, Body Packaging returns again. This year's theme, "Identity Crisis," said Tudor, "is just a catalyst for the artists," and is meant to be open-ended.

Fans attending Saturday evening's events can expect new works that make extensive use of bleached velvet and fiber-optic technology by the beloved costumer Gypsy Ames; a piece called "Bag Lady Ballet" (made entirely from shopping bags from JC Penney to Office Depot) by Sara Warehowsam and a piece made of hand-painted silk flags titled "Unification" by Kareen Muhl and her daughter Elody.

Also new this year will be a segment of student-designed body packages sponsored by the Kennedy Center Imagination Celebration, singing by Margaret Simpson from Opera Theater of the Rockies and three video cameras that will project details of the stage show onto screens around the auditorium for those who don't have front-row seats.

Though the show involves months of planning, Rogers and Tudor look forward to the event itself when "the energy from the audience makes the whole thing a work of art itself."

-- Noel Black

capsule Body Packaging III: Identity Crisis

Colorado Springs City Auditorium, 221 E. Kiowa St.

Sat., Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. (Gala pre-show starts at 6 p.m.)

$25 main floor, $20 general, $15 student and senior

Available at the FAC box office

634-5583

www.csfineartscenter.org

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