You can’t look at Rick Crangle’s dress without seeing a woodland sprite dressed in a gown for the moonlit ball. Or maybe she is a willowy young tree, transformed into human form so that she can dance with King Oberon.
Crangle, a Gloucester wood sculptor and architectural specialist, made a classically proportioned ball gown with a halter-top, full princess skirt and a chic bit of midriff-baring flash. Here’s the thing: the halter and top are elaborately pieced together from carved pieces of bloodwood. A little overskirt of carved feathers flows over a floor-length skirt of cascading ebonized cherry tiles. To make it, Crangle fitted together over 500 individually hand cut, shaped, sanded, ebonized, and oiled wood pieces. It is stunning, both as a piece of wood art and as a dress. Model Alison Campbell smiles as she strolls in Crangle’s creation, wearing one of his carved wood bangles on each arm.
Wearable Art is an international sensation, as exemplified by the current New Zealand-originated exhibit at PEM (WOW® World of WearableArt™, February 18, 2017 to June 11, 2017) It’s been happening on Cape Ann for a while; the tenth anniversary “Celebrate Wearable Art” exhibit is slated for Sunday, October 1, 2017 at Cruiseport Gloucester. A project of seARTS, the Cape Ann arts and arts organizations collaborative, it sells out to enthusiastic audiences. Besides the wood of Crangle’s creation, garments sashaying down the runway have been fashioned from materials including plants, shells, recycled inner tubes and flattened soda cans. In keeping with the ‘art’ part of the term, each is arresting, beautiful, expressing a point of view. The craftsmanship is exacting, a necessity, of course, if each piece is to be wearable.
When PEM’s show debuted in February, the museum invited seARTS to being a selection of artists and their creations from the 2013 and 2015 shows. Here, Alison Campbell modeled Rick Crangle’s dress to a fresh audience.
A favored part of seARTS’s “Celebrate Wearable Art” exhibit is the curated group of artists who sell their wearable wares. These include hand-painted silk garments, hand-hammered jewelry of 22 karat gold and precious stones, hair fasteners, brooches, pendants and earrings made of sea glass, and garments stitched from felted wool or individually ruched silk. Prices range from $25 for a hair clip to $500 for a felted wool coat to thousands of dollars for a wide gold ring with rubies and diamonds. For shoppers and art collectors, this is synergy.
The 2017 “Celebrate Wearable Art” show promises to top seARTS’s previous runway exhibits.
“With three runway shows, eight holiday shows, and three salon panel discussions under its belt, the Celebrate Wearable Art committee is reaching for the stars as it begins planning for Celebrate Wearable Art IV on October 1,” says Jacqueline Ganim-DeFalco, seARTS event chair. “The group will be launching a new website later this month, WearableArt.org.”
Artists of all stripes are invited to bring their ideas to “Celebrate Wearable Art” at seARTS. The period of calls for submissions ends in June 2017. Then, it’s on to the best fashion show around.