Fall Fashion for Freaks 

Sangre de Cristo Art Center takes a conceptual look at adornment

click to enlarge One of Lucia Matzger's coffee filter kimonos
  • One of Lucia Matzger's coffee filter kimonos

Wouldn't life be infinitely more amusing if every day were Halloween? Who would have time for war, corporate scandals or watering their lawn if they were busy stitching that last bit of brocade onto their toreador knickers or regluing that one stubborn rhinestone onto that blinding Elizabethan tiara? While we all hide behind the facades of our culture's everyday fashions (or lack thereof), costumes and masks actually unveil the desires and fantasies (not to mention superpowers) of the person they disguise; the hidden becomes surface while the surface is concealed.

The current shows at the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center in Pueblo, falling under the umbrella description "Experiments in Fashion," give you the chance to inhabit such a world, not to mention all the fabulous ideas you can steal for this year's Halloween costume.

Take Lucia Matzger's pieces in the Regional Gallery, one of the first things to give visual shout-out when you walk into the building. Now who would've thought to make kimonos for garden dwarves out of used, photocopied coffee filters? Genius! Seeing the potential antique color and texture made by good ol' Mr. Coffee is just the kind of imaginative leap so many artists fail to make.

Or how about a pair of stick and/or stone slippers for the rustic Cinderella? They're actually sticks and stones fashioned out of gut! -- trompe beef, let's say. Carol Durham's foot fetish is equally bizarre and just as bafflingly obsessive as Matzger's kimonos, and worn in combination together, the works of these two artists have the beginnings of a really great cocktail outfit!

Add to it one of Nick Cave's (not the singer) prickly wirehair helmets for the snazzier fencing competitor, or one of Jean Hicks' abstract wool hats, and hey -- who needs pants?!

Also not to miss in this grouping on the first floor are local favorite Daisy McConnel's 2-D investigations into the patterns of fashion and femininity.

But if it's an outfit to wear to the Oscars you need, and you want to upstage Bjork, then you'll have to head to the third floor for the Conceptual Clothing show. I'm not quite sure what makes these costumes and outfits "conceptual," but all the garments in this gallery definitely fall far from the Gap tree.

On the left as you enter the gallery you have a blank-faced mannequin looking smashing in CC Professor Gypsy Ames' "Zircon Dream," a dress and headdress bedazzled with large blue crystals fashioned from plastic with plenty of accentual rhinestones.

Ames' theater roots come through even more stunningly in "The Phoenix," a silk-feathered rainbow body suit that would liven up any casual Friday at the office.

click to enlarge Gypsy Ames' "The Phoenix" would liven up any casual Friday at the office
  • Gypsy Ames' "The Phoenix" would liven up any casual Friday at the office

If Ames' designs are just too Zsa Zsa for you, then Patricia Black's new-age imperial minimalism is just the thing when you want to blend into the curtains at Yoko Ono's pad at the Dakota. Using an ancient Japanese dying technique called "shibori," Black's outfits are loose, colorful, mysterious and say "concubine" with a decidedly feminist twist.

If it's just an accessory you're looking for, Korean-born designer Jeung-Hwa Park's shawls are ever so autumn at the Bauhaus. Wearing her craft on her sleeve, Park's knitting incorporates raised leaf shapes, nuts and other indispensable elements of the squirrel's world.

Last, and painfully far from the least, are the cumbersome, yet metaphorically hyperfunctional outfits of Bolinas, Calif. artist Sha Sha Higby. Think Dark Crystal meets H.R. Geiger on the set of a Brothers Quay movie produced in Tibet. Combining elements of sculpture, puppetry and windchimes, Higby's work has that "just got back from Hades" look sure to keep away those courtiers who just aren't deep enough.

Plan to blend in or be shamefully upstaged at the opening!


"Experiments with Fashion" featuring Conceptual Clothing, Surface Treatments, Extending the Body: Fashion Accessories, and Cowboy Couture

Sangre de Cristo Arts Center

210 N. Santa Fe Ave., Pueblo, 719/543-0130

Opening reception: Thursday, Sept. 19, 5-8 p.m.

Monday Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

$3-$4, free to members.


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