MARCO ISLAND — The Marco Island Center for the Arts opened their latest show Tuesday evening with a reception at the center's gallery on Winterberry Drive. Entitled "Forme de la Femme," the exhibit features new interpretations on an old theme, celebrating the female body.
This has been a staple of artists for millennia, probably going back to when a caveman admired his significant other as she doffed her bearskin, and proceeding through Goya's "Maja Desnuda" and Duchamps' "Nude Descending a Staircase." But the takes on this well-worn row presented by the artists at the Center for the Arts showed the topic is far from exhausted.
As a case in point, consider Marco artist Karen Swanker's entry, which the judges awarded third prize. Entitled "It's a Lot to Carry Around," it is, in essence, a bra, but a bra constructed from and bespangled with a wild conglomeration of objects, many spray painted in metallic hues of gold, silver and copper.
It was number three in the judges' eyes, and the piece that won the award most cherished by an artist, indicated by the "sold" sticker on the card. Marco Islander Cindy Anderson purchased Swanker's sculpture, which was tagged at $300, and said she planned to give it to her husband for Valentine's Day.
"He always says, 'I'm not a boob man,' but never mind," said Anderson. "Besides, we're into recycling," a comment on the plethora of found or salvaged items covering her new acquisition. She plans to hang the piece in the foyer of their home, where it is sure to be a conversation opener. Even in the gallery, it was already having that effect.
"If you're a woman, this could say, 'Stay away, buddy,'" said Sheila Luciano, eying the bra with its sharp projections, and imagining a male hand attempting to casually caress it.
First prize, ironically, went to a male artist, Joel Shapses of Naples, for his sensuous "Eve," a female torso sculpted in vivid scarlet fused glass.
"It's very different from blown glass, more sculptural," said Shapses of the fused glass technique. Second place went to Marco island artist Ieva Straatman for her impressionistic watercolor of three female "Cousins," done in subtle washes of color. Island newcomer Zane Balks-Russell, a retired art teacher, won honorable mention for "Bedroom Nude," a linoleum block print, one of two works she submitted in different media to the contest.
The art center drew a good crowd for the opening, as they generally do, no doubt helped by the complimentary hors d'oeuvres, and particularly the wine.
Continuing in the Rush Gallery through February 26th is the exhibit of paintings by California painter, sculptor and filmmaker Rita Blitt. Blitt's art celebrates her love of nature, music, dance and the spontaneous flow of movement captured in the drawn gesture. Her drawings and paintings are often created using two hands at once. A short film, describing her creative process and set to the music of award-winning composer Lansing McLoskey, can be seen in La Petite Galerie.
The "Forme de la Femme" show will be hung through February 28. The center's next exhibit, titled "Asian Infusion," a members' show, will follow. The Arts Center's headquarters and gallery is located at 1010 Winterberry Drive. For more information on the Marco Island Center for the Arts, call 239-394-4221, or go to www.marcoislandart.org.