Tuesday, November 10, 2015

SCAR - Gail Chovan's 18th Annual Fashion Show in Austin Texas.

SCAR 18 - Gail Chovan fashion show by Alton DuLaney
Gail Chovan Fashion Show November 1, 2015 in Austin, Texas photograph by Alton DuLaney
 This past weekend I had the pleasure to attend and participate in Gail Chovan's 18th annual fashion event called SCAR in Austin, Texas. I have been involved with her shows since their inception in 1998, to greater or lesser degrees. This year, being based in Texas, gave me easy access to the event, and I got to spend more time with the designer before, during, and after the show, as well as contribute to the design and styling of the event.

Gail Chovan Atelier in Austin, Texas photograph by Alton DuLaney November 2015
Gail Chovan has dedicated her life to the Art of Fashion. She studied fashion design in Paris, before moving to Austin, Texas 20 years ago. In Austin, she has became a fashion legend, starting the iconic boutique Blackmail in 1997, and having held annual fashion shows ever year since. She now shows her collection at the Void Showroom in Paris, and at various boutiques around the world, including Blackmail on South Congress Avenue, in Austin.

At the Gail Chovan Atelier in Austin, photograph by Alton DuLaney November 2015
The Gail Chovan Atelier on South 1st Street in Austin is a hubbub of activity and creative chaos. I arrived the morning of the show and the team was scrambling to get all the last minute adjustments completed.
At the Gail Chovan Atelier in Austin, photograph by Alton DuLaney November 2015
Chovan's team includes design assistants, interns, stichers, hair and make up team, set designers, production designers, and numerous other creative consultants such as myself.
My Assistant Aldo at the Gail Chovan Atelier in Austin photograph by Alton DuLaney 2015
Even I have an assistant, Aldo offers a lot of support and inspiration on all my creative endeavors.
Gail Chovan Fashion Show in Austin Texas photographed by Alton DuLaney
Meanwhile over at the event space, a beautiful Victorian home in downtown Austin, the production team was busy setting things up and getting everything ready for the big event.

Gail Chovan backstage at SCAR in Austin, Texas photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
Backstage, the team was busy with hair and makeup, fittings, and last minute styling of the models and the collection. In all 15 models would be sent down the runway.

Gail Chovan with Stylelikeu documentary team in Austin Texas photographed by Alton DuLaney 2015
There was also a documentary team there from NYC, Stylelikeu, http://stylelikeu.com/ who are working on a documentary of Gail Chovan's life and art, and that of her husband Evan Voyles. The team has been following and documenting Gail for over a year now.

Alton DuLaney and Creed styling the pool fashion installation for Gail Chovan in Austin Texas photo by Todd Wolfson
I was put in charge of the pool installation, which involved rigging a cat walk and modeling platform suspended over a pool on the grounds. Gail's son Creed helped me style the space with scraps of fabrics, pieces of patterns, and eucalyptus before bringing out the model.

Pool Fashion Installation executed and styled by Alton DuLaney in Austin Texas November 2015.

The model, Kaidon Ho, was drapped in vintage lace and precariously placed in the middle of the pool to greet guests as they arrived for the fashion show.

Alton DuLaney and Kaidon Ho photographed by Ellen Bartel in Austin Texas November 2015
After all models were dressed and in their places, we all got to relax a little with some champagne and take some photos posing with our handiwork.

Gail Chovan fashion show SCAR in Austin Texas photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
The main fashion show started exactly at dusk. To the musical accompaniment of a saw, the models made their way across the lawn, surrounded by candles and hundreds of fashionistas, buyers, fans, and guests, who came to see the show. The collection was a celebration of the imperfect, with unfinished edges, raw and jagged cuts, grafting fabrics, and other fashion techniques employed to highlight the nature of scarring. Chovan herself is a breast-cancer survivor and wears the scars of her double mastectomy proudly across her chest, visible in her plunging necklines and low cut, transparent gowns.

Gail's family sat on the front row, other guests sat on carpets or stood to get a better view. Afterwards, a round of thunderous applause was followed by champagne fueled mingling about the grounds and within the three-story home.
Gail Chovan, fashion maven, in Austin Texas.
The response was positive, and the press, both in Paris and in Austin, was supportive. All in all another very successful show.

Gail Chovan teaching fashion design at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas
The next morning, I got to discuss the challenges of living a creative life and producing art with Gail at her office and classroom at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, where she teaches design.

Gail Chovan is not only a dedicated designer, but an inspiration to many.


The Detroit Institute of Arts by Alton DuLaney

 The Detroit Institute of Arts by Alton DuLaney
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) in Detroit photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
Located in Detroit, Michigan, the Detroit Institute of Arts, or the DIA, is considered one of the top museums in the USA, with over 650,000 square feet of exhibit space, and a collection of over 65,000 works valued at over 8 billion dollars.

Diego Rivera at the DIA photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
The museum is famous for a few things, among them it was the first museum to purchase a Van Gogh in the USA. But more famous than the Van Gogh, is the Diego Rivera frescos titled, Detroit Industry, that celebrates Detroit's industrial and automotive past in Rivera's signature muralistic style. The installation fills the upper and lower levels of the grand marble court of the museum, and is a powerful testament and tribute to Rivera and the Motor City.

Picasso at DIA photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
Leger at DIA photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
The museum also has a great collection of the masters, from Picasso to Van Gogh to Oldenburg to Giacometti to Leger. Everything you would expect from a world class museum.

Albers at DIA photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
 There was also a great collection of some of my favorite "cubist" art pieces - that is artist that use cubes or other geometric shapes in their work. Joseph Albers is always a favorite, with his subtle hues.
Duchamp at DIA photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
 This piece with no title or visible marks on the canvas is a minimalist conceptual piece by Marcel Duchamp. Clearly he loved a good concept. And so do I.
Rothkoat DIA photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
Mark Rothko is always lovely to behold, with his vibrant colors and graphic compositions.
Stella at DIA photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
Frank Stella jumps off the wall with bold colors and strong shapes in this rare 2-d piece.
Judd at DIA photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
And being from Texas, I have to give a shout out to Marfa's favorite adopted son, Donald Judd, whose metal lit boxes seduce the viewer with light and shadow.

Warhol at DIA photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
 In addition to the cubes, there are representations from some of my favorite experimentally conceptual artist, including the omnipresent Andy Warhol, above.

Koons at DIA photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
 Jeff Koons can do no wrong as long as he keeps tittilating the art world into conversation. His pastries under glass evoke one of my favorite questions "Is this art?"

Abramovich at DIA photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
The patron saint of performance art, Marina Abramovich has her token video included in the collection reminding naysayers "don't cry over spilled milk!"
Brecht at DIA photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
And then we have George Brecht with his public service announcement wallpaper: No Smoking. But really, who smokes anymore?

After spending the whole afternoon at the Detroit Institute of Arts I concluded that the museum lives up to its image and reputation, as a world class museum, in what was once a major capital of the US, (and this determination was arrived at without even seeing thee special exhibit, 30 Americans - oh well, there is always next time.)

For more info: http://www.dia.org/

MailArt - Finding Forrest Prince

Mail Art: Finding Forrest Prince by Alton DuLaney
Mail Art to Forrest Prince from Alton DuLaney November 10, 2015
Years ago, a lifetime really, when my great mentor and pen-pal Ernie "Lucky" Johnston was attempting to nurture and further my interest in the Houston art scene, we would go on various field-trips into the city to see exhibits at galleries or meet an artist of note. One such artist that I was introduced to was a saint-like creative named Forrest Prince. An afternoon at his sprawling house and studio involved seeing art, drinking fresh carrot juice, discussing love for humanity, and perhaps a reading assignment.

Years passed as they sometime do, and life unfolds into many different directions, but the path does sometimes lead us back around to intercept the influential or to provide a gentle reminder. Now, back in Houston and once again curious as to the Houston art scene, I pondered aloud if Forrest Prince was still around and making his mark on the work through his art and his philanthropy. That's when I came across one of the books Forrest gave me way back when, and inside was stamped his address and a few positive messages.

Rising to the challenge, I created this small piece of mail-art, embellished with color copies of his own stamped address and messages of peace, I fashioned a splatter painted envelope and note card, affixed two painting-postage stamps, and dashed my message of to Mr. Prince, sealing it with a gold foil embossed seal of ART.

Where in the world is Forrest Prince? Stay tuned for the results of my mail art performance, Finding Forrest Prince.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Tom Of Finland Arts and Culture Fair October 2-4, 2015, Los Angeles.

Tom Of Finland Arts and Culture Fair 2015

TOF Art Fair Program photographed by Alton DuLaney October 2015
This past weekend, the Tom Of Finland Foundation hosted its 21st annual Arts and Culture Fair at the Tom House in Los Angeles. Tom Of Finland, known as the "world's most famous pornographer", lived and worked out of a rambling craftsman-style house for the last 20 years of his life. In the mid 80's he started a foundation to help promote and preserve queer and erotic art, which included this annual fair, as well as many other cultural outreach initiatives. What started as a fringe movement has gradually became mainstream, with Tom Of Finland's work now in the collection of major art institutions including MOMA, LACMA, MOCA, The Getty, as well as numerous other private and public collections.

The art fair has grown and evolved over the years, dropping the word "erotic" and adding the word "culture" and this year featured over 30 artists from around the world.
Alton DuLaney photographs at the TOF Art Fair in Los Angeles October 2015
Among the artists presenting their work were photographers, painters, sketch artists, filmmakers, writers, performers, and poets - including the recently appointed Poet Laureate of West Hollywood - Steven Reigns. Artists exhibited their work within the sprawling compound in tents and pavilions across the estate and terraces. My space was in the back pavilion near the main stage, and had a beautiful view out across the hills of the Hollywood sign.
Alton DuLaney photograph of Michael James at the Tom Of Finland Arts and Culture Fair Oct 2-4, 2015.
The foundation did an excellent job of promoting the event  on social media and in local press. The event started Friday evening with a film screening, and went throughout the weekend events all day.

Gio Black Peter at TOF Arts Fair in LA photographed by Alton DuLaney Oct 2015

One of the artist I was most excited to meet was Gio Black Peter from NYC. He is an urban artist who got his start painting on subway maps and other found materials. In 2011 cult director and producer Bruce La Bruce directed a short video for Gio, helping to propel his career. Now Gio shows his work across the country, and performs regularly in clubs and galleries in NYC.

The History of Queer Photography at TOF Arts Fair in LA photographed by Alton DuLaney Oct 2-5, 2015
One of the most captivating exhibits was a history of queer photography shown in vintage photos and tin types, presented in a beautiful display case with a magnifying glass provided for a more intimate viewing. This really felt special and important, and gave a personal face and glimpse into the lives of pioneering men and women who faced enormous challenges in expressing their true selves. Picking up the magnifying glass, and peering into this case, was like looking into the past, providing a appreciative perspective on the present and even more hope for the future.
Drawing workshop at TOF Arts Fair in LA Oct 2-4, 2015.
 In addition to the exhibiting artists, there was also a drawing workshop in session both days with live nude models. Artists were invited to bring their sketchbook and attempt their own masterpiece.

Dungeon performance at TOF Arts Fair in LA October 2-4, 2015.

 Performances were also a big part of the fair including endurance performances in the dungeon, and other entertainers, readers and speakers on the two stages.

Jordan performing at the TOF Arts Fair in LA Oct 2-4, 2015
 Perhaps the most riveting performance was when LA performance artist Jordan was joined on stage by two men in full leather who assisted with a 'golden shower' scene for the finale of the piece.
Starrfucker Magazine at TOF Arts Fair in LA photographed by Alton DuLaney Oct 2-5, 2015
The culture element of the festival was perhaps most enlightening as it showed what a wide influence Tom Of Finland has had on culture over the decades. There were several authors and publishers on hand, inlcuding the fetish magazine STARRFUCKER, which drew a large crowd of models and artists hoping to get published.

Tom Of Finland biography by E. Valentine Hooven III
One author who was great to meet and chat with was E. Valentine Hooven III who wrote the very first authorized Biography of Tom Of Finland . Having read this book, and gifted it to many friends, it was a pleasure to finally meet the man behind the words. He was a kind and generous speaker who encouraged mentoring among his older peers, and community outreach among his younger fans.

Rick Castro at the TOF Arts Fair in LA Oct 2-5, 2015
There were also lifetime achievement awards presented to key members of the arts community including Rick Castro. A lifelong LA resident, Castro was co-producer and co-director of the cult classic "Hustler White" and now runs a successful gallery in Hollywood called Antebellum Gallery which promotes queer/erotic/fetish artists.

TOF Boutique at the TOF Arts Fair in LA Oct 2-4, 2015.
 In addition to art, the Tom Of Finland image and brand is also now used on a wide variety of products, on everything from French perfume to Finish postage stamps, to Italian rugs, to American condoms, sex toys and lube. Above is a shot from the TOF boutique, showing just a small selection of the offerings.

Durk Dehner at TOF Arts Fair in LA photographed by Alton DuLaney Oct 2-5, 2015
It was a great honor to be a part of the festival, being invited to stay at the foundation, and seeing the work involved in organizing an event on this scale. The work starts long before the guests arrive and ends long after the curtain is drawn. On Monday morning, after three action packed days, those of us at the foundation were still on site cleaning up and breaking down. Never one to shy away from getting his hands dirty, TOFF Founder Durk Dehner shows that the staff at TOFF do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Aldo, the Tom Of Finland mascot, at TOF Arts Fair in LA photographed by Alton DuLaney Oct 2-5, 2015
 It was a rewarding and exhausting arts fair for all involved. The foundation chose 5 of my photographs to add to their archives and warmly invited me back for future events. After 6 days in LA, I packed my bags, grabbed my dog Aldo, and headed to the airport for a late flight back to Texas.

For more info on this or other Tom Of Finland events, check out their website, sign up for the newsletter, and when in LA, volunteer!


Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Art and Craft of the Homecoming Mum!

The ART and craft of the Homecoming Mum

Homecoming ART Mum by Alton DuLaney September 2015
 There is a tradition that happens in Texas in the fall that people take very seriously. Once school gets back into session, and calendars start making autumnal threats, the anticipation starts building for the big homecoming game. But it's not just the game of football that is played competitively, girls show their school spirit and team pride by festooning themselves with the extravagant creations known as the Homecoming Mum.

Originally the tradition started out as a corsage given to any girl in the Homecoming Court by her date, which was usually no more than a live Chrysanthemum embellished with a few ribbons. But overtime it has adopted the Texas motto of "Bigger is Better", and girls across campus and across ages compete to see  who has the biggest and most beautiful mum. And these things get very expensive, as any trip to a craft store will attest, with girls and their mothers putting together a signature concoction. After recently viewing the phenomenon myself at flower shops and crafting stores, I decided that I, too, would try my hand at this Texas hobby.

Homecoming Mum supplies photographed by Alton DuLaney September 2015
The first thing to do is get your supplies together. Materials you might want include silk mums in several sizes and colors, spools of ribbon, colorful paper, decorative objects, and of course your scissors, tape, staples, and glue. I use a long arm stapler as this allows a great reach when stapling ribbon.

Homecoming Mum, getting started, photographed by Alton DuLaney September 2015
To get started, use a cardboard disc, or mum backer card to begin attaching first rows of loops and ribbons. I chose a patriotic pallet of red, white, and blue. But whatever your colors, I suggest laying things out to get a good look at placement and material allocation.
ART Mum How-to by Alton DuLaney September 2015
Next add your message ribbon, of whichever ribbon you want to be most visible. I visited my lcocal floral shop (Thank you Sweetie Pies in Splendora, Texas!!) and had this ribbon printed, but you can also find a lot of readily available printed ribbon online.

Braided Ribbon for Homecoming Mums photographed by Alton DuLaney September 2015
Specialty ribbon is a big hit and adds texture and dimension. I braided the above ribbons after watching some how-to videos on YouTube. The big trend in Homecoming Mums right now is ribbon variety, including the popular honeycomb ribbon , which is available in a variety of colors.

As you continue to add different cuts of ribbon and decoration, glue each strand to back of disc to add to the thickness of the Mum.
Rear view of Mum with paper fan folds by Alton DuLaney September 2014
As you can see from above, I added many layers of ribbon and even some paper fan folds for added pizzazz!
The Homecoming Mum flower by Alton DuLaney September 2015
For the actual mum, I combine two silk flowers, with tube ribbon, battery operated lights, and  feather butterflies  .

Homecoming Mum detail by Alton DuLaney September 2015
  A detail of some of the additions: feather balls, glitter stars, curled paper ribbon, the whole shebang! I even added bells and whistles !

ART Homecoming Mum by Alton DuLaney September 2015
 The final results is a festive flower that looks as if a wrapped gift exploded, with ribbons and adornments hangs in thick layers.
Homecoming Mum Garter by Alton DuLaney September 2105
 And just so you don't think that this crafty tradition is for the girls only, their dates are also roped into the pageantry with a smaller version worn as a garter.

 But remember, although this does get very competitive, it is supposed to be fun. So have fun, be crafty, and good luck!

For more creative ideas and crafty how-tos check out my affiliated  Paper Arts class on craftsy.com


Happy Crafting and Art Making!