Carlos Dimas has a passion for hair. It's his career, after all, as owner of Hair by Carlos in Fort Myers.
He's also a bit obsessed. "I've seen 'Avatar' over a hundred times," he noted.
As part of the weekend-long Art Walks the Runway event at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, he will join his passion with his obsession and hold it all together with wire mesh, shellac and hundreds of hair pins.
Serious eye candy
"My imagination brings everything alive," Dimas effused as he prepared for his finale presentation for the River District Boutique Collection & Art Performance on Friday. He said it promises to be "something you don't see every day." In fact, it's probably something most of us have never seen at all.
High fashion hair shows and competitions, as parodied in the 1999 film "The Big Tease," starring Craig Ferguson, are a common animal in New York, Chicago and L.A. In Southwest Florida? Not so much. So the "Avatar"-themed extravaganza should be of interest to anyone, even those who couldn't care less about hair, if only for the novelty factor. But it also promises to offer plenty of eye candy, as Dimas puts it.
He draws on the colors and energy of the whimsical creatures in James Cameron's blockbuster, and even promises a dragon. He fashions art pieces out of yards of human hair that will sit aloft models' heads as they sashay or lope, depending on their assigned character, the length of the catwalk.
Enhancing the visual extravaganza will be music, hip hop dancers and world-class ballroom dancers. You can forget about those super-tall models that are de rigueur at Fashion Week. The art pieces can be stratospheric on their own, so the less-statuesque beauties get their day in the sun. Audience members will also enjoy not having to crane their necks to appreciate the nuances in the pieces.
Dimas could claim the title of artist on those merits alone. However, he has an artistic passion that manifests itself in other directions, too. Clients of his salon will notice the stylist station mirrors are adorned with his metal art. He collects anything he thinks might make interesting art materials.
Dimas tells a story of gathering rusted metal chains and cola cans covered in barnacles into his bag at the beach. Upon returning home, he was pulled over by the police.
"They thought I had a big bag of marijuana," he recalled, laughing. "Be careful what you carry!"
All for a cause
Of course, he collects hair. It's always on hand, but Dimas does accept donations — and it doesn't even have to be human. He was nearly disqualified at a competition in Europe on one occasion for using dog hair.
"It takes color just like human hair," he maintained (he prefers working with the tail locks from a shih tzu). "People are always bringing me their hair," he said. But if it's long enough, he said he'd rather give it to Locks of Love, the philanthropic group that makes wigs for cancer patients with donated human hair.
Dimas realizes his is a singular obsession. "Who builds things out of hair?" he mused.
And he's eager to put his talents to good use.
If you go
What: Art Walks the Runway: River District Boutique Collection & Art Performance
Where: Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, 2301 First St., Fort Myers
When: 7-10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7; doors open at 6 p.m. Part of the weekend-long Art Walks the Runway event, which runs through Sunday, Sept. 9
Cost: $5 suggested donation, $10 VIP seating
Information: 239-333-1933 or www.sbdac.com
Proceeds from the upcoming show will benefit the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. But he'd like to explore the possibility of doing a show for Oma's Heart Foundation. The organization provides Christmas gifts for children who might otherwise go without, and he has worked with them before.
"They're passionate," he said. "I want them to watch this show."
For Dimas, art and community service go hand in hand. Catwalk Productions, a fashion show event management and marketing company that is putting together the new show, also produced Dimas' first show in 2010 at the Edison Restaurant to benefit the Make a Wish Foundation. He wasn't sure what the level of interest would be, but to his surprise, the event sold out.
No wrong art
The charitable streak was solidified by the event of his brother's death from cancer four years ago.
"He never drank, never smoke," Dimas said. Now in recovery from addiction, Dimas takes it personally.
"It should have been me dead," he lamented. Partly in his brother's memory, he reaffirms his commitment to inspired living daily, and he does it his own way.
"You can't give me your opinion," he said of the creative process. "Everyone has good opinions. But I have to play this out because if I don't I get unhealthy."
And play it out he does. When he had the idea for building a pirate ship out of human hair, he worked arduously for three days and three nights straight.
That piece became the Black Pearl, named after Jack Sparrow's ship in "Pirates of the Caribbean." Birds and fish will inform much of the color scheme for the upcoming show, but don't be surprised if Dimas can't resist hoisting the Jolly Roger yet again.
"There is no wrong art to me," Dimas said. And the programming of the Art Walks the Runway event provides him a provocative opportunity to expand the artistic horizons of Southwest Florida.