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Iconcept returns to Art Center Sarasota

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  • | 11:00 p.m. January 19, 2015
Local artist and designer Ray Peper's "Wallflowers" design featured in this year's Iconcept show.
Local artist and designer Ray Peper's "Wallflowers" design featured in this year's Iconcept show.
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Area artists this Thursday night at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium will be channeling the credo of fashion designer and “Project Runway” mentor Tim Gunn: they’ll “make it work.” Over 20 different artists from around Sarasota will be scrambling, innovating and creating all new fashion statements and designs with unorthodox fabric and materials in Art Center Sarasota’s seventh annual “Iconcept” fashion show.

Part art show, part runway and part silent auction, the popular Iconcept art show has allowed artists and groups to let their sartorial imaginations run wild. Materials that one would find lining the walls of arts and crafts stores are transformed by artistic alchemists into flowing clothing concepts that would be right at home in New York City’s Garment District. Beginning with a silent auction from 6 to 7:45 p.m., the night will include a photo booth for guests to show off their own fashion as well as a dinner at 6:30 p.m. Iconcept is an example of Art Center Sarasota’s collaborative and innovative programming.

This year’s show includes gowns, dresses and outfits made out of a diverse array of material. The cornucopia of inspiring materials include Christmas tree branches, coffee filters, green dog poop bags, balloons, plastic baby food containers, wallpaper and used Barbie dolls. During the runway extravaganza, singers and improv performers Joey Panek and Christine Alexander will be providing entertainment and hosting the show, providing witty commentary and play-by-play on each piece.

“There’s really nothing like it in Sarasota,” says Lisa Berger, executive director of the Art Center Sarasota. “The center started this event seven years ago to make a splash for the visual arts among all the performing arts in the area. So we came up with this challenge for area artists to make their work walk and move.”

Although the event is a great showcase of Sarasota’s artists and designers, the night of fashion is a boon to Art Center Sarasota’s fundraising efforts. It’s the organization’s largest event and fundraiser of the year with all the proceeds raised going toward the center’s youth education program. General admission is $50, and if one partakes the dinner, dessert, wine and fashion show, it is $150 per person or $1,500 for a table of 10.

Attendance for this year’s unorthodox yet festive fashion show is already estimated to be crowded with over an estimated 400 tickets sold. Fundraising aside, the Iconcept’s major service is providing a platform and raising awareness of what the Art Center does throughout the year. “It’s more of an attention grabber,” says Berger, “and our mission is to highlight the artists and our institution’s visibility.”

Art Center Sarasota’s 90th anniversary is next year and Iconcept’s 10th year is fast approaching as well. With each successive year, Berger and the event coordinators look to make Iconcept the event of the art center’s calendar but a major part of Sarasota’s social calendar. Referencing when the art center was named the Sarasota Art Association, Berger wants the Iconcept series to evolve into a full-scale interactive event where guests bring their own handmade costumes to the party. “Back in the 1950s and 60s, the Beaux Arts Ball was a huge event where guests would where the most creative and outlandish costumes,” says Berger. “That’s where I’d like this to grow toward. I want it to be an event where everyone can be creative. We don’t want to be a conventional Sarasota fundraising event. We want people who aren’t a part of our audience to find art fun and entertaining.”



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