Wearable Art. A gluey, sticky, feathery, glittery event. For my non-island, non-Alaska, sunny-clime friends, Wearable Art is a huge event here in our rainy little town. For months artists hunker down in the dark and the damp and create Wearable Art. Ideas are born when the theme is announced, dumpster diving and attic raiding begin.
If you have ever participated as an artist, you know your house will be a mess. Even if you have not participated, I bet you can imagine. For a month or even longer it is unrecognizable. This year in my house the Christmas tree went down and the craft table went up. It had been years since we created anything, and when I say “we” I mean my daughters. It was sort of tradition for us, if not Laura and friends, it was Gracie and Friends and often it was all of them.
Time passed. Graduations, college, grandchildren and weddings took center stage. This year though, as coincidence would have it, Gracie and friends were all in town for various reasons. So, with no input from me and a very well developed concept, off they went. Off they went collecting bones, shells, barnacles, twigs and old jeans discarded by dads. Off they went on another Wearable Art project. And yes, the house was a mess. But, blessedly it was also loud and happy and noisy – music-filled and busy. I loved it!
Application in, song selected and finishing touches applied to their art, opening weekend approached. I had the pleasure of being an audience member this year. Not hustling back to help them out of outfits, or frankly, to babysit them because, back then, they were underage and there is a bit of booze flowing around. We went Saturday night. It was the fourth show. This is a show that sells out as soon as they go on sale. For an artist it means if your outfit can just hold together until this final show you are gold. If not, repairs required.
Piece after stunning piece went down the runway. So many old favorites, people who have participated for 30 years, the ones you count on to be amazing. And they never let you down. So many new faces, amazing and fresh perspectives. I felt like I blinked my eyes and the show was over. Gracie and Friends had worked the stage, shells shining, branches swishing and drilled wooded beads flying (a tangled nightmare each night, wine and nimble fingers getting the piece ready for the next show). I was as proud of them as you can imagine. A lot of hard work, a lot of thought and conversation resulted in a beautiful piece of artwork.
And then. It was over. Over the years I have watched artists take their piece and deposit it straight into the dumpster. But not us. We load up the car. Many of the girl’s old pieces have been re-purposed at school for the kids groups that participate in the Saturday matinee, or they are simply in a tub in the attic.
The theme next year is “Circus of Curiosity.” My house is still a mess, abalone shell fragments cover my bathroom, bits of bleached fish-bones are on the counter and bags of interesting twigs are on the dining table, but my mind is working. Maybe I can convince them to dust off the old glue gun once again, return to Ketchikan and be in the show next year!
The girls post show:
The Arts Council invites us to post pictures on Social Media. I have included some taken by Karen Pitcher. There are over forty acts – so I have selected a few that I think represent the tone of the show this year.
In addition, I have included a link to our wonder Arts Council! Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council. It is amazing what this small community pulls off in the art department.