Body modification 

Pros, kids paint interchangeable panels to create unique show

click to enlarge 85e0_sevendays-26909.jpeg

As vice president of the Pikes Peak Watercolor Society, Reveille Kennedy is best known for her watercolor paintings. But the artist's latest work flies in the face of the stereotypical dainty landscape scene.

"It kind of looks fleshy, and part of it looks like a heart and lungs and ribs," she says.

The piece indeed, a torso with transparent anatomical accuracy is also gaudily adorned in gold paper, with vines winding around the base. Reveille says she relishes the challenge to create something new, which is the whole idea behind PPWS' almost-annual Pandora's Box exhibit, opening Friday at The Warehouse Restaurant and Gallery.

Kennedy's piece will be conjoined with five other panels, each 16 by 24 inches, to create a complete body. In all, the show will consist of 10 bodies, each comprised of six panels.

Since its inception in 1996, Pandora's Box has aimed to stretch artists beyond the subjects with which they're used to working, says Kennedy. PPWS provides participating artists with a unique theme and an unrelated object that must be placed into the artwork.

This year, the show will include work from Pam Holnback's eighth-grade art students at Holmes Middle School, who have created 25 of the show's 60 panels. Holnback also helped decide on this year's theme.

According to Kennedy, the theme started simply as "collections"; Holnback tweaked it to "collections of body parts." The move inspired Holnback's class to incorporate three-dimensional plaster models of their bodies into their panels. When the pieces are hung, the casts will be joined with panels painted by PPWS members.

Show coordinator Dottie Lirette says that for one piece, a student cast his head and neck and placed a functional clock his provided object where the face would go. Outside the head, the student painted numbers.

According to Holnback, the students were uncharacteristically excited about this project.

"There were some kids in her class that never participated in anything, children who really aren't interested in school," says Kennedy. "They've gone over the top with this. They've stayed after school [to work on their panels]."

Lirette says durable panels called "Gatorboard" were needed to hold the casts. To prepare, Warehouse workers are driving sturdy nails into the brick walls of the gallery space.

Midway through the exhibition, which runs through April, PPWS members will come in and switch the parts around, detaching and reattaching the existing panels, basically for fun and to capitalize on the interchangeability of the media.

Considering that the purpose of the show is to encourage artists to reach beyond their usual subjects, Lirette says it's been a great success thus far. Her own assignment was a head and shoulders segment that also had to incorporate a feather.

"When you have a watercolor," she says, "and you choose a subject, it's more traditional to think about composition. This really made me think outside the box."

Pandora's Box
The Warehouse Restaurant and Gallery, 25 W. Cimarron St.
Show runs April 4-28; opening reception, Friday, April 4, 5-8 p.m.
For more information, call 475-8880 or visit home.pcisys.net/~ppwsart.


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