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Painted Legs + Hopping Splits = Art

When Erin Barylski was about five years old, she discovered a rare talent. She could do the splits, then hop from that position, entirely on the strength of her inner thighs. She'd then land right on the, uh, bottom of her torso -- before her thighs sent her upward again. "I was always showing off to my friends," she says. "I was in gymnastics, and it was the way to finish off a routine. I would do it at the end of high school pep rallies and at parties."

Barylski currently lives in west Broward, but she was raised in Northeast Ohio. Having just graduated from Kent State University, Barylski heard a radio advertisement for local auditions. Soon she was doing the hopping splits across a stage at a Cleveland comedy venue.

In 2005, after moving to Naples, David Letterman's people tracked her down and invited her to split-hop for his show's "stupid human tricks" segment. (Video after the jump.)

With Letterman at her side, Barylski requested a "light drumroll," then gave this adrenaline-fueled performance.

"I bounced as high and as hard and as fast as I ever have," she recalls. "I've never had such a rush."

The rush of that Letterman appearance soon wore off, however, and Barylski wanted more. "I thought, 'What can I do to prolong this 15 minutes of fame?'" she says. "One of my friends came up with the idea to make art out of it."

Barylski had always painted in the conventional way, but this peculiar gift could make a nice gimmick. She painted her legs, then while doing the splits, hopped across a blank canvas.

The result is something of a Rorschach test. If you didn't know how the paintings were created, you might guess that the symmetrical patterns were of a great winged creature against the horizon. But it's the art's creation that makes it distinctive, and even Barylski admits that some in her audience will have a more erotic reaction.

"There are going to be people who say it's a sexual thing," she says. The comments thread on her Youtube clip confirms as much. "I just try to laugh it off."

Barylski, who tends bar at a restaurant on A1A, has about a half-dozen finished works and plans to make her pitch to South Florida gallery owners after she's added to her portfolio.

For now, though, Barylski is expanding her oeuvre by exploring yoga poses and legwear. She says she gets better texture from laced stockings and fishnets. "It's not all about the hop," she says.

I met Barylski last week and she was kind enough to give us a demonstration, wearing a bit more than she usually does in order that the video be suitable for family blogs like this one. I'm still cobbling that video together. Be sure to check the Juice tomorrow.

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Thomas Francis

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