• Two shows scheduled for Nov. 16
By Christina Whiting
Homer’s Wearable Arts fashion show is an adventure in color, texture and creativity. Artists from around the state showcase unique creations ranging from wild and crazy to more mainstream.
“Most artists who participate are fiber artists,” said co-coordinator Kari Multz. “But the show provides an opportunity for sculptors, beaders and novice crafters to participate, as well as traditional clothiers.”
Homer’s first Wearable Arts Fashion Show took to the stage in 1983, and was created by Kim and Gordon Terpening.
“Originally, the fashion show was wearable art created by local people and included pieces from places like The Gear Shed and Homer’s Jeans,” said Lynne Burt, the show’s other coodinator. “Eventually, the commercial clothing was minimized and the focus was on local, handmade clothing.”
Multz is the owner of The Fringe, a consignment shop that sells previously owned clothing, as well as new, locally made fashions. She has been at the center of Homer’s Wearable Arts world for more than 27 years.
“I’ve always participated in the show,” Multz said. “As the years went by, I became more involved in helping Lynne make show decisions, set up the show, do fittings and coordinate the models and the music.”
Burt has sewn her entire life, creating costumes for Pier One Theatre for the past 25 years.
“I enjoy the process of bringing an idea to completion and I like encouraging and teaching others,” she said. “I’m proud of what the show has become and how well it’s received.”
Every year, Wearable Arts features a new theme. How individuals interpret this theme is a highlight of the show. This year’s theme is “Show Off.”
“I love the crazy, way-out-there stuff,” Burt said. “One year, Kim Perkins incorporated a bicycle frame into a piece.”
Ann Margaret Wimmerstedt, Nancy Wise, Kathy Smith, Jennifer King and Marie Walker are just a few of the artists who have participated throughout the years.
Wimmerstedt considers herself a sculptor rather than a seamstress, and has been creating work for the show for the past 12 years. She was originally more interested in the concept than the outcome. The first dress she made for Wearable Arts was an evening ball gown constructed from rice paper and Vogue magazines.
“It was beautiful, but it was actually barely wearable art,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking about a model having to walk upstairs.”
This year, her creation is a dress based on mushrooms.
“It’s in the form of a mushroom; two pieces with a really giant mushroom skirt and a tight corset-like bodice,” she explained.
Wimmerstedt appreciates that the show provides a non-competitive outlet through which community members can express themselves.
“It doesn’t require submitting a proposal and you don’t stress about if what you’ve created is good enough,” she said. “It’s really pretty fun.”
Starting 10 years ago, the Wearable Arts fashion became a bi-annual event rather than continuing as an annual one.
“This event is a huge undertaking,” Mutlz said. “When people’s lives started getting busier, there were fewer people able to help out.”
In 1990, using funds raised from previous year’s shows, Burt, Multz, Wise, Alice Haggerty, Linda Skelton and Barb Wyatt founded the Homer Fiber Arts Collective. Their goal was to nurture, promote, educate and present local fiber arts and fiber construction through workshops and wearable arts shows.
“We offer free or low-cost workshops to our members,” Burt said. “We also support other organizations, including the Mapusha Weavers of South Africa.”
Today, the Fiber Arts Collective is a nonprofit organization managed by a Board of Directors. This past year, the group turned to Asia Freeman, Director of Bunnell Street Arts Center, for assistance in managing funds and with community outreach.
Consequently, this year’s show is co-produced by both Bunnell and the Fiber Arts Collective. The long-term goal is for Bunnell to use funds generated from past shows to produce future shows, as well as coordinate workshops and special events.
Homer’s Wearable Arts fashion show was one of the first wearable arts groups formed in Alaska. The success of the show led to the creation of Wearable Arts events in both Anchorage and Juneau.
This year’s Homer show takes place on Saturday, Nov. 16 at Land’s End Resort. Shows are offered at 6:30 and 9 p.m.
“Every piece in the show will be a work of art and many will be for sale,” Burt said. “Some will be functional and intended to be worn, and others will be intended for display, to be hung on the wall.”
Works for sale will be available following the shows.
Tickets are $25 general, $20 for Bunnell Street Arts Center and Fiber Arts Collective members and $15 for youth 16 and under for the 6:30 p.m. show only.
Tickets are available at The Homer Bookstore, Land’s End, The Fringe and Bunnell Street Arts Center. For more information, call Bunnell at 235-2662, Kari Multz at 235-4999 or visit bunnellarts.org.
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