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ArtServe's RedEYE Brought Art to Life and Life to Art

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As a victim of its own popularity, ArtServe's alt exhibition RedEYE sent the public to park their vehicles at Parker Playhouse's field next door. This meant patrons had to take a half mile jaunt through fields, parks, and parking lots to get to the visual assault that they were so anticipating. Google warned: This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths. It wasn't kidding.

Once we made it to RedEYE, what lay inside made hoofin' it worth it. The rooms housed installations, an eclectic mix of pierced, tattooed twenty-somethings and very, very confused seniors. A non-traditional art exhibition, RedEYE represents a new way of experiencing art. These days, it's not always enough to just walk into a room and see a thoughtful creation, we want to be surrounded by art, have it stimulate all our senses. This is what RedEYE managed to do skillfully. Here are a few scenes we stole from our day of gazing at living art.

Tagging to Toiling

Spray painting local hero Abstrk toiled away in the humidity to create a beautiful piece of black and white artwork with his cans of paint. He explained that he likes the medium because he was a tagger in his potentially misspent youth.

"I started as a tagger, but now it's more," he said. "I mix traditional art techniques with what I do." His preteen progeny, Angel and Bianca were by his side, picking up cans and helping with his work. "I don't want to go inside, you said I could paint," Bianca complained to him.

Body as Canvas

Donning little more than ruffled bloomers and pasties, a model in a Nightmare before Christmas-inspired wig was turned into a live, movable canvas.

"It's moving art, when I'm done she'll be able to move around, not hang on a wall," said artist and owner of Wicked Apple Art, Pam Trent. There's nothing like a portrait of Jack and Sally on naked boobs.

Trent introduced her model as her daughter Abby. Turns out, painting skin's a family affair. "She gave me my first set of paints," Abby said.

Also decorating skin was Lori Cataldo from Henna Eden. She was hard to miss in her monster pin up inspired dress and with bright magenta and red hair atop her head, complete with a bow. She's the mix of edge and art this event embodied. She hennas Sugar Skull pieces like garters and pistols in lace. "I love the flowers and traditional henna, but I fuse it with modern elements," she said. Her current client Ashley was getting a fingerless fishnet glove. Unattractive Is In

Many of the pieces scattered around Art Serve were not of pristine models but more of the gritty underbelly of life. Artists like CHNK showcased the not-attractive with deformed statues, huge noses, and 3D faces with warts, moles and cracked teeth. Woody Othello's Fester Twins and Ben, followed suit. Statue Ben sits atop a toilet, doing his business.

Keeping It Real

Another ugly side of life was a breast cancer installation by Donna Haynes. Her mixed media installation, Rebuilding in the Studio, included a wall and floor piece detailing her battle with the disease in her own words, with a white and pink printed chair sitting in the middle and several painted pieces of a topless woman caressing her breasts.

It begins "Everyone has their thing..." and ends with the artist washing the words away, symbolic of moving on as a survivor. "Three surgeries, one big infection, two months of radiation tired scared but strong."

In the same vein, Rebecca Lu Kiernan's "How Fragile We Are" photo in the main gallery showcased a bald mannequin in the back seat of a car sitting somewhat uncomfortably. Is it a nod to the chemo-driven state of post-cancer surgery?

Pop Invasion

The influence of pop culture on the artists was louder than the bands in the auditorium. One wall had an overly colorful blue and pink painting of a box of Pop Tarts, strawberry of course was surrounded by a group of more discerning art aficionados. Was it simply a piece about the beloved toaster pastry or a nod to society's need for pop culture and the tarts it turns us into?

Rounding the corner let viewer to Heather Orlinsky's Darth Vader piece entitled "Who's Your Daddy?" Tony Sarabando's "My Toy Story 3 Story" attracted the likes of a 7-year-old boy who wanted to play with the toy Spiderman on top. To the little guy's dismay, the webbed crusader was permanently affixed on top of a silver foil filled glass box. An envelope of the story on the back was marked for the purchaser's eyes only. Living, Breathing Art

Not all art lives on a wall. Some art walks around and some can't be explained.

Over and over, artists told me they used the tradition of art in conjunction with their new twists to create their work. This was most obvious when live bands Future Dinosaur and Speaking Volumes played on a stage with a backdrop of now defunct vinyl records.

Renda Writer led a spoken word performance in front of an artistically painted, word inspired wall. Breathe, a dance performance by Body & Soul Dance Theatre, incorporated stark white statues, a dark room, and a long white-fringed curtain in the back as performers danced to videos projected behind them with songs like Labrinth's "Beneath You're Beautiful" and Pink's "Try."

"The interactive Breathe installation developed by Byron Swart, Acronym Studio and Body & Soul Dance Theater was a big favorite this year," said Jay Abbate, ArtServe president and CEO. "But the most rewarding aspect of the event is that we sold a lot of art on behalf of our ArtServe members, delivering on our mission of helping them turn their art into business."

By Marisa Cutaia

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