Art in Bloom Gallery in downtown Wilmington is displaying an art double feature, two collaborative exhibits. One of these is Making Masks, a collection of masks created by wood artist, Dave Klinger, and painter/collage artist, Elizabeth Darrow. It's a whimsical exhibit, featuring 26 masks that came into existence without clear intention by the artists--instead, they surprised each other (and themselves) throughout the creation. The Closing Reception for the exhibit is this Friday, August 25, which is 4th Friday Gallery Walk, 6:00pm-9:00pm.
Elizabeth: It was so spontaneous. It just came up at a party one night when Dave's wife said that he used to make, he used to carve wooden masks but he didn't do it anymore and I said, why don't you make papier mâché masks and I'll paint them. He said OK. And then nothing more was said and three days later, he, he e-mailed me and it was a picture of the first creation and he said, OK it's ready, come paint it. And I thought, wow he's, he's really serious. I guess we're going to do this. So there was no, we didn't really work together. He did his thing, he passed it on to me, I did my thing. So there was no stepping on each other's shoes. It was just real division of labor. He had license to do what he was doing and I did the same.
Gina: So you didn't make any demands? Like, “this one needs to have blond hair”?
Dave: Not only that, but I didn't even usually let Elizabeth know what intention was put into the piece. The mask gave me the intention quite serendipitously. How would I have the nerve to get into her relationship with the mask? So it was quite fun. Yeah, lots of times she took it in a direction that was totally different from all the vibe and spiritual wonderment that I felt in a particular piece. And when I saw it, it was 99 percent of the time, wonderful to have that new birth.
Gina: So Dave, tell me about how you created these paper mache masks.
Dave: Each one was a little bit different. The basic form on most of them was a paper product or a paper towel or a bandage, you know, the material world and either white glue or plaster. Some way of adhering it together. And sometimes there was a form, sometimes I have grand kids, it was just a little nine inch ball from Walgreens that I started wrapping stuff around. And I like to work organically and see what comes out. So very rarely, one or two pieces, there was an actual idea. Oh, I'm going to do a frog. Remember the frog?
Elizabeth: Yeah, uh huh.
Dave: And the frog was actually done in a piece of hard building panel material. So, that's yeah, I like, we both like the creative miracle so to speak of letting it evolve, as it were.
Gina: And then you took it and you got to see what you saw in it, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: I didn't even know what I saw in it, I just started painting to see what would kind of emerge. So each one was a surprise. Maybe it was a frog since that was so specific I had an idea of what to do with it. But, for most of these faces, they just, and they weren't, they didn't always come out right the first time. So sometimes I'd paint over them. I don't really like that and do another approach from another angle. It's just a big surprise for both of us and we did, we did them quickly. We did 26 in 60 days. So that just, there was hardly any time to think, just act, just do it. Pass it back, get a new one, pass it back, get a new one. It was like that until, after two months, it's like, neither one of us could stand it. We can't do this anymore.
Gina: We've got to stop meeting like this. And then you also added some different things. It wasn't just paint.
Elizabeth: No, it wasn't, it was paint and feathers and plastic greenery and beads. I don't know. I went to AC Moore and just bought a whole bunch of stuff that I'd have on hand just to play with. So, oh yeah we did dryer lint and and real hair. Dave found a hair extension on ebay and that became Dorothy's hair. Yeah. So all sorts of stuff was at play.
Gina: Dave, I'm wondering, since you were, you're the one who started the birth of these creations-did any of them grow up into something you didn't expect?
Dave: Oh, a lot of them grew up into something I didn't expect. Yeah. Because of Elizabeth's vision being Elizabeth's vision. That was part of the fun, of course. Be easy for me to just keep it in more of a box or something. More known or defined. But that wasn't really what we do and isn't what we did.
Gina: And which one is your favorite, Dave?
Dave: People keep on asking me that and I always have to say that it was the last mask we did. And I think that's because it was the most vivid. And also, it was the goodbye mask.
Dave: We wished them well after that point. Up until that point they were still living with us, I guess.
Gina: And which one is that?
Elizabeth: It's called The Seeker.
Dave: The Seeker.
Elizabeth: My favorite was the second one.
Dave: Which one was that?
Elizabeth: That was Cardinal Sins. I turned it into a nun with cardinals on her head. It was such an amorphous shape that he gave me. I looked and I thought, what am I supposed to do with this? So I, I just started painting the oval of a face and then it looked like the oval was in a nun's habit. So that was my, OK this is, this is what it's going to be. It's going to be a nun in a habit. And then he put this top notch on it, so I had to play with that. And then I had these cardinals-these two little birds- and when I put them on and the whole thing came together like, Cardinal Sins, how perfect. So I liked the spontaneity of that and it was so unexpected. That was my favorite, the second one.
Gina: And are these for sale?
Elizabeth: Yes they are.
Dave: At Art in Bloom gallery, 210 Princess Street. I have to say, let's give a shout out to Amy Grant, who is the owner of Art in Bloom and has just, is intensely supportive of all the artists. Those that she shows and just artists who walk in from the street and need a little TLC. Pretty amazing woman.
Elizabeth: She was great about embracing this. Once she knew we were doing it, she merely said, oh we've got to have a show. Made a little spot for that.
It would be great if people would come out for the closing on Friday. We'll be there. We still have more to sell. We don't know what to do with them if they don't sell. So come on down.
Transcript assistance from PopUpArchive and Lindsay Wright