A doll's life
[The Arts Center]
Market Day, Veggie Ladies by the Oiseaux sisters.
By BRANDY STARK
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 7, 2002
ST. PETERSBURG -- Dolls fascinate us. With sealed lips, they hide our deepest secrets. Their tireless eyes guard us as we sleep. Emblems of childhood, they have a hidden ability to transform reality and transport us to the world of imagination.
When nationally known artists apply their talents to dollmaking, the results are thought-provoking and whimsical but never childish.
Fifteen nationally known artists have banded together to pay homage to this delight of childhood and beyond in "The Doll Show," currently featured in the Everett and Stanley galleries of the Arts Center. The artists, nontraditional dollmakers whose pieces vary in style, technique and medium, were invited to participate by co-curators Susan Dollmaker Andrews, Carolyn Rose Fellman and Betsy Orbe Lester. The result is a diverse show filled with thought-provoking displays and whimsical imagery. Few of the pieces have standard proportions, resulting in surreal forms, including a range of materials from cloth figures to statuettes, doll parts and mosaics to papier-mache and wood marionettes.
David Bewley's Judgement of Paris Fashion Doll is remarkable in its craftsmanship. Inspired by mythology, the head, feet and hands are decorations that were on pieces of furniture he bought during his travels through Rome. Four custom dresses connect with the body parts, completing the doll. Each dress is fashioned in the image of a goddess. There is the chain mail of Athena, the tiered skirt and ornate Babylonian bodice for Hera and a risque seashell outfit representing Aphrodite. The fourth is an elaborate Grecian garment for Helen of Troy. The work also includes accessories: wigs, shoes, tiaras, helmets and scepters.
Live Sea Monkeys Live, by Doreen Horn, makes a splash. Two figures stand on either side of a wall. The one on the left is childlike and solidly formed, while the other is a skeletal paper figure stretched across the floor. The eyes of both seem to focus on the central panel, a clear window filled with water. Swimming in a frenzied pattern inside are sea monkeys, a type of brine shrimp. The work is cleverly made and mesmerizing with its message about time and its passage.
The 21 colorful sewn dolls of Nancy Goodheart Matthews are whimsically composed, each with an offbeat personality. The exotic Persephone, made of wood, bells, metal and mixed media, is a dark-complexioned woman relaxing in a chair. Her legs are crossed at the ankles; her hands hold an open pomegranate above her belly, an ancient symbol for the womb, fertility and marriage. Gaia & Book creates images of another goddess from green cloth and long, plaited dark hair. An open book sits next to the figure, displaying a hand-sewn cover and messages written on strips of cloth laid across the open pages.
"The Doll Show," at the Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, through Feb. 22. Free admission. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., noon to 4 p.m. Sun. Call (727) 822-7872.In conjunction with the show, the Arts Center is hosting a dolls' tea party, at 2 p.m. Sunday. Bring a doll to display and a cup and tea bag; hot water will be provided. In keeping with the season, organizers suggest dressing in Valentine's Day red and bringing heart-shaped edibles.
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