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.