Originally Published: July 22, 2010 10:59 p.m.
PRESCOTT - From dumpsters to Chinese silk worms, two Prescott art galleries are showcasing wearable art exhibitions, but the similarity ends there.
Prescott College's exhibition, "Off the Wall: The Art of Adornment" features eight internationally-recognized artists and a collection of beadwork from Glendale's The Bead Museum, which opened in Prescott in 1986 and moved to Glendale in 1999. The exhibition is on display through July 31.
'Tis Gallery's exhibition, "The Laughing Giraffe and Friends, Art to Wear and Nurture your Spirit," features three Prescott-area artists. The exhibition closes July 30. Sherri Curtis, Carol Hunter-Geboy and Mary Kaye O'Neill at 'Tis, create eco-couture clothing and jewelry from discarded and recycled clothing material.
"We are re-inventing clothes and jewelry from what we already have, rather than throwing it into a landfill," O'Neill said. "This is really the 'in-thing' in wearable art, and it's becoming very popular across the country."
Although re-cycling old clothes into new fashion, or "deconstructed designs," has been going on since humans started wearing clothes, the idea to present the pieces as art and hang them in galleries is a relatively new concept dating back to the 1980s.
The 'Tis artists, who are showing their work in the gallery's upstairs mezzanine space, price their women's eco-couture at "affordable, very reasonable prices."
Teenagers to 30-something women already have bought nearly half of the exhibition, 'Tis manager Patti Ortiz said. Hand painted silk blouses, ponchos and scarves hang next to winter coats made from bedspreads and curtains.
While the 'Tis artists "are redesigning existing materials into new and innovative fashion statements," the artists across town at Prescott College use high tech and expensive materials for their work.
The two shows are on opposite ends of the cost spectrum.
"Our clothes are more pricey, from the $250 to $1,200 price range," said Jacquelyn Rice, who with her husband, Uosis Juodvalkis, create their wearable art in their Prescott studio, Gild the Lily.
Rice, former head of ceramics and dean of fine arts at the Rhode Island School of Design, and Juodvalkis, a successful digital photographer and graphic designer, married in 1999 and moved to Prescott in 2004.
He taught her Photoshop, and she taught him about fabrics and sewing. Together, they created a process of printing manipulated digital photographs onto fabrics using a 60-inch ink jet printer using fabric dyes instead of ink.
"We have completely revolutionized the dying process," Rice said.
Although each article of wearable art starts with a digital photograph, the finished piece shows no hint of the process.
Alongside Rice's striking blouses, dresses and scarves, sits Omar Angel Perez's eight-inch tall spiked heels. Some shoes have straps made from saw blades. For a complete list of the other artists and their work, visit www.prescott.edu.
Displayed amongst jewelry made from gold, silver, bronze and copper, are glass bead works from The Bead Museum, which was the impetus for the exhibition.
"The original idea was to bring some of The Bead Museum's collection back to Prescott and showcase her (museum founder Gabrielle Liese) work," curator Jennifer Chandler said.
"This is a very unique show. It's what you'd expect to see in Chicago or New York or Los Angeles with these nationally recognized artists, but not in Prescott. It's the perfect resonance between fashion, art and technology."
The 'Tis artists want their creations to be as much about fun as it is about art.
"This gives people permission to be creative with their own wardrobe and see that they don't have to follow trends," O'Neill said. "It's not stuffy. It's fun and whimsical."
During the Fourth Friday Art Walk at 5:30 p.m. tonight, Rice and Juodvalkis discuss their art and philosophies, "The Resonance Between Fashion and Artwear," at the Prescott College Art Gallery in the Sam Hill Warehouse, 232 N. Granite St., in Prescott.
The eco-artists offer an artists' reception during the Fourth Friday Art Walk from 5-7 p.m. tonight at 'Tis Gallery, 105 S. Cortez St., on the courthouse plaza in Prescott.