Peoria Art Guild hosts visual exploration of the disrobed human form
PEORIA, Feb 16, 2013 (Journal Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Over the centuries nudity in art has rarely failed to spark attention, a fact which prompted organizers at the Peoria Art Guild to choose the topic for their upcoming exhibit.
"Nude Attitude" will run just two days, with a big opening bash March 1 and viewing hours the following day. It will feature the work of 60 contemporary artists from around the U.S. and Canada, as well as a handful of local artists. A range of mediums, from photography to sculpture, will offer a visual exploration of the disrobed human form.
Nudity has been used in artistic expression for centuries, from fertility figures carved thousands of years before the birth of Christ, to the work of Michelangelo, Edouard Manet, and Pablo Picasso. The fact that art containing nudity sometimes sparks controversy is not necessarily bad -- any public relations expert will tell you that negative attention is often better than no attention at all.
The event is designed to re-ignite local interest in the guild, which lost membership after suspending exhibits and classes in 2010 due to lack of funding. Since then the guild has re-organized and hopes to bring attention to its new mission.
"What we would like to become is the area's version of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago," said board member Bill Conger. "It's what we've been working on for the past year."
Conger says the guild is trying to attract cutting-edge contemporary artists from around the U.S. and abroad to show here, giving central Illinois the chance to see art typically shown only in larger markets. He also wants to provide an educational component so people can understand what they see.
"We live in a time and culture that has relegated art to merely entertainment only. People expect it to sort of dance for them -- contemporary art requires more. It always has," he said. Giving people opportunities to learn about the art helps them appreciate it.
"Nude Attitude" is deviating from the guild's traditional opening night festivities in several ways. There will be live entertainment supporting the theme, including a performance of the Peoria Ballet at 9 p.m. The entire event is being held at a late time -- 9 p.m. to midnight.
"We are trying to capture a younger demographic to support the Peoria Art Guild so we can continue our mission into the future," explained Beth Reusch, guild director.
Attendees will be asked to view the exhibit starting on the third floor of the building and working their way down, since it becomes a bit more provocative with each descent. The most risque activities will be in the basement, which will be called "The Inferno" during the event.
On the top floor will be the artwork along with many of the artists who created it. On the building's ground floor an open air photo booth will be equipped with burlesque themed props, like feather boas. The resulting images will be given away as favors and posted on the guild's Facebook page. In the basement visitors can try their hand at sketching a live, nearly-nude male model. They can also watch an artist paint directly on the body of a nearly-nude female model at 9 and 10 p.m. Once the body painting is complete, the two models will stand on podiums to become "living art."
Though the topic is nudity, Reusch said organizers were careful to exclude anything that could be considered erotic. Never having organized an exhibit like this, Reusch also had to make sure the guild didn't break any city codes or laws.
"I talked to the city," she said. "It took a while because nobody's ever asked before -- they told me they didn't know of any other nude event like this, of this caliber. Even the postcards, before I mailed them out, I had to make sure they were OK. There have been a few tweaks here and there, but most people have been pretty supportive."
What : An exhibit of artwork with live performances.
When : Opening festivities will be from 9 p.m. to midnight, March 1. The exhibit will also be open 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 2 with no admission charge.
Where : Peoria Art Guild, 203 Harrison Street, Peoria.
A dmission: Advance tickets for the opening are $30, $20 for Peoria Art Guild members. Call (309) 637-ARTS. Tickets at the door will be $40. Food and an open bar with beer and wine will be provided. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. All proceeds will benefit art education at the Peoria Art Guild.
Performances: The Peoria Ballet will perform at 9 p.m., and there will be live body painting at 9 and 10 p.m.
Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter, @LeslieRenken, and Pinterest, larenken.
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