2008 Wearable Art Extravaganza to feature two shows

Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2008

T he highly anticipated Wearable Art Extravaganza is gearing up for a grand 2008 production.

Michael Penn/Juneau Empire
Michael Penn/Juneau Empire

Director Deborah Smith said the annual Juneau fashion show has grown in popularity, requiring two shows this year.

"Our audience seems to keep increasing, which is why we have gone to two shows now," she said.

Collette Costa and Ben Brown will emcee the evening show beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at Centennial Hall. Sharon Gaiptman and Rep. Mike Doogan, D-Anchorage, will emcee a 3 p.m. show the following day at the convention center. A silent auction will be held an hour before each show.

"We have different emcees who have different approaches," Smith said. "I think it will be interesting to see how different they will turn out to be."

This year's Wearable Art Extravaganza is themed "Mechanical Marvels," much in contrast to last year's show "Solstice to Solstice," Smith said.

"We brainstorm themes and sort of alternate between what I would say is organic and nonorganic themes," she said.

Smith said the juxtaposition between man-made inventions and nature allows a fresh look for the show each year.

"We like that kind of contrast, and I think the artists like it too, because it gives them different ways to explore their talents," she said.

But the nearly two-dozen expected artists aren't required to cultivate their wearable art around the designated theme.

"I love the fact that they give a theme, and that you don't have to stick to it," said Teresa Busch, whose creation "Brace Yourself" won last year's contest. "Because by giving a theme it kind of gets the creative juices flowing and gets you maybe thinking on a different track that you might not have chosen yourself."

Busch, owner of The Plant People, went against last year's more organic theme and created her award-winning art out of dental appliances such as braces and retainers.

"It's my one time out of the year that I get to do my creativity outside my field," she said of the wearable art show.

And Busch is remaining tight-lipped about what she has in store for this year's show.

"Everybody keeps it on the down low - it's kind of top secret," she said. "I was really inspired by the theme this year, so I'm sticking to the theme."

Organizers also are looking to surprise and stimulate the audience with the stage design of this year's show. Designer Jeremy Bauer would not disclose particulars, but stressed that it is more dynamic than last year's production.

"Typically we've tried to keep it hush-hush, but it follows the theme very well," he said. "It's very grand in scale. ... It has a real three-dimensional quality to it, too."

Although many of the artists keep relatively quiet about their work prior to the show, Busch said people should expect to see some spectacular pieces.

"I've heard rumors about some of the pieces that are going to be in it," she said. "This year is going to be pretty exciting."

Watching the Wearable Art Extravaganza is enjoyable because there are so many creative projects each year, Busch said.

"Juneau always surprises me," she said. "People are so creative here, and I look forward to that aspect of it."

The show provides the community with a creative artistic outlet, but it also provides money for charity, Smith said. Proceeds from Saturday's event will go toward scholarships for the arts, and Sunday's show serves as a fundraiser for the newly opened Juneau Arts & Culture Center.

And while prizes are handed out for the top three wearable artworks voted on by the audience, the show is much more than a competition, Busch said.

"It's such a fun and exciting event that you can't take that portion too seriously," she said. "You're there to have a good time and hopefully surprise people."

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