By Susan Remson
“The idea of a ‘Monster’ can be interpreted in many ways,” said Chet Griffith, the owner and operator of ArtWorks, in his call for entries to the show. “It is up to the artists’ discretion as to what (or whom) the ‘Monster’ actually is.”
Demons. Monsters. Mythical characters. Animals you won’t see at the zoo or local pet shop. A nurse you don’t want at your bedside and an Elmo look-alike that you wouldn’t want near your toddler. And The Woody Warlock, the Man Beast and the Self-Ordained Malefec watch over them all. These and other monsters greet you as you walk into the second floor gallery at Harborside’s ArtWorks Gallery. It’s all very creepy, imaginative, creative and fun.
It’s the Third Annual Monster Art Show. “The idea of a ‘Monster’ can be interpreted in many ways,” said Chet Griffith, the owner and operator of ArtWorks, in his call for entries to the show. “It is up to the artists’ discretion as to what (or whom) the ‘Monster’ actually is.”
Artists, primarily from the Kenosha-Racine area, took the idea and created a variety of monsters. They responded with acrylic paint, pen and ink, graphite and gouache (a method of painting using opaque watercolors). One used bits and pieces of everyday items to make bizarre characters that fit right into the theme. The show includes mixed media, relief prints, drawings, paintings, and sculpture. What the pieces have in common is that they are…well, again the best word to use here would be creepy.
And all are appropriate for the Halloween season, a time when monsters and the artists who love them, get to express themselves in the most ghoulish ways. That will be evident at the Big Bash Costume Party Opening Artists Reception, too, which will take place at Art Works on Saturday October 30 from 6 -9 pm. “Everyone will come in costume to this tri-level bash,” says Chet. The main entry level will have food and fun. The lower level hosts a spooktacular dance show by Laurenzi Dance, which will be repeated so that if you like to be spooked, you can enjoy the show more than once. On the top floor for your ghoulish gazing pleasure is The Monster Art Show.”
Other surprises may be in store, too. After all, it is Halloween. Last year’s event drew almost four hundred people; and although there are many Halloween happenings scheduled the same weekend, this one will undoubtedly take the cake. Literally.
A highlight of past extravaganzas has been the gigantic Halloween cake. The first year the cake was a life-size mummy. Last year it was a cadaver, which used 60 pounds of sugar for the frosting alone. It was all edible: you could cut into the bright red heart and eat it – which I guess gives new meaning to the phrase “eat your heart out.” You could slice a section of stomach and taste that, too. Blue veins, white ribs, mushy muscle – all there for the eating. At the end of the night, the cadaver had totally disappeared, leaving everyone to wonder what could top it this year.
Chet wouldn’t divulge the theme for this year’s cake – he just called it The Mystery Cake and told me that it’s been in the works for weeks now. Seeing, and tasting, this masterpiece should be enough to bring in a whole slew of monsters and other crazy costumed creatures.
The Bash is a celebration for the season but it also is a celebration of the active arts community in Kenosha.When Chet talks about that community and how he sees its future, he gets very excited.
“There’s an enormous amount of potential here,” says Chet, “and the people who will make it happen are the artists themselves. They support one another; they encourage one another; and by working together they are developing a vital creative community.”
Some of that has already happened. Chet has owned and operated ArtWorks for three years but has been a part of the local art scene for more than twenty. In addition to custom framing services and an extensive array of art supplies, ArtWorks offers classes for adults and children. The second floor gallery is a showplace for local art and the exhibit changes frequently, about every six weeks. Cooperative efforts between places like ArtWorks, Lemon Street Gallery, UW-Parkside, and Carthage College help. One of the most exciting things, Chet explained, is the Kenosha Racine Arts Network, an on-line social networking site for artsts. As stated on the site, “K.R.A.N. is a place for visual artists, musicians, writers, dancers, actors, and all creative people to connect and exchange ideas.”
The current project of K.R.A.N, which is being done in collaboration with Southport Press, publishers of Mother Goosed, is a deck of Artists Playing Cards. Participating artists were assigned a card at random and were required to produce a piece of original artwork using that card. Watch for more information about this creative venture, which will be available in time for you to give your favorite card player or art collector a truly unique gift for the holidays.
But first things first. Halloween is almost here and the Monster Art Show, which runs thru November 7, and the Big Bash are holiday musts. I am sure they will whet your appetite for how these artists will interpret the Queen of Hearts or the Ace of Cakes. Oops, I mean Ace of Spades. Maybe one of them will provide the theme for next year’s Mystery Cake.
ArtWorks is at 5002 7th Avenue – Phone: 515-5593