It was just another Friday morning in Sarasota, when Marie Antoinette waltzed out of the John Carl Spa & Salon, frolicked through the library parking lot in flip-flops, pressed one palm against the nearest column and the other on her hip and struck a pose.
The now glittery flower-adorned turquoise coat started out as a $3 tablecloth from a yard sale three years ago at the Marie Selby Public Library. Even then, Ray Peper knew it would become a French coat, and he knew that he’d need a hat complete with a clock to complement it. Both will be on display in Art Center Sarasota’s exhibition, “The Other Persona,” which opens Aug. 25. Peper’s display is titled, “Out of Mind: Costumes and Ephemera.” Other artists showing their works in the exhibit are Joe Proietti, Vicki Chelf and Jeff Schwartz.
“The only pattern I had was a Johnny Depp pirate coat, so that’s what I used,” Peper says, fluffing the coat and stretching the material out as if he’s about to curtsey. “I enhanced it with Dollar Store flowers brushed with silver paint and added a glaze of sparkle glue to make it shimmer.”
The sparkle glue has left its dusty mark in the shower, all over Peper’s Sarasota apartment and in Key West, where he used to live. He’s entered nearly 250 broaches in the exhibition, in addition to 15 items, spanning from hats to masks.
“It’s amazing what sparkle glue and Dollar Store flowers and paint will do,” Peper says. “I’m making this because it’s a little more spectacular than what I had in the closet. Three of my best costumes are in Baltimore at the American Visionary Art Museum.”
One of his hats, inspired by “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” features airplane wings found at the flea market on the Circus Sarasota lot, a bird made from a fabric pillow and a safari-helmet nest.
“I’ve taken a whole rack of stuff over to the art center,” Peper says. “A Davy Jones costume made out of commercial fishnet, a golden dragon costume that’s double-faced — the front is a Thai dancer princess and the back is a golden dragon made of cupcake foil and a Jackson Pollock wedding dress. It’s 8 1/2 yards of fabric collaged with yarn and fabric to look like thrown paint, and the bridal veil is topped with a paint can.”
Also on display is a piece that resembles a lacy pirate coat, but is actually leopard fabric underneath sheer fabric, which Peper once paraded around in while wearing a pirate ship hat.
“I had to make a political statement,” he says. “I was a pirate in the rose garden. All of this started with Fantasy Fest, in Key West. Last time I was there, I was Marie Antoinette in underwear.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Community opening reception for “The Other Persona”
WHEN: Reception runs from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25; exhibition runs through Oct. 22. Ray Peper will be on-site from 1 to 3 p.m. most Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from Aug. 30 to Oct. 1 to chat as he works on two costumes.
WHERE: Art Center Sarasota, 707 N. Tamiami Trail
INFO: Call 365-2032 or visit www.artsarasota.org
Joe Proietti is a Chicago native who creates art and assemblages from found objects, pencil drawings and paint. He has exhibited at the Royal Academy of Art, the Alexandra Palace “Art Spectrum,” the Akademy der Kunst, the St. Paul Museum of Art, the Nortfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences and New York University’s “Small Painting” exhibition.
Vicki Chelf calls the series of paintings to be displayed at Art Center Sarasota “Food is Sacred.” It is her reaction to how she sees society’s tendency to take food for granted. She wants to inspire viewers to reconsider their relationship with food.
Jeff Schwartz’s works explore gathering places. One of his pieces features the Hob Nob, one of his usual lunch spots, where he likes to people watch.