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Frock and Roll
April 25th, 2007 @ 6:09 PM - New York
A deserted stretch of road in Long Island City, Queens seems like an unlikely spot for an art and fashion happening that could have been straight out of San Francisco circa 1971. But that's precisely what occurred in on a recent Friday night this month in a converted warehouse building, Local Project Gallery at the opening night of "Frock N Roll."
The exhibit and fashion show, on view through April 28, was curated by Wendy Gosselin and Veronica Ibarra, two New York City artists who share a passion for all things rock 'n roll, particularly the point where art and music converge.
The collaboration between the two was spawned at a New York Dolls concert last summer, fittingly enough. They then rounded up a group nearly 30 artists consisting of people Gosselin knew from San Francisco, where she was living up until a year ago, as well as friends of Ibarra, all of whom use music and fashion, both past and present, as their creative inspiration in their work.
Ibarra's large color photographs - her friends dressed as modern day glitter heroes and heroines - documents her friends and family in her apartment over the past few years. Ibarra cites "costumes, fantasy setting and over-the-top makeup" as a few of the things that inspire her work and describes her photographs as "real life fairy tales."
Her work reveals a seamless blending of art and life, where self-expression is an act of performance. One portrait of a local glam/metal deejay, "Lady Starlight's Reflection," shows the extent to which one will go to perfect a look in the name of rock 'n roll – the subject has transformed herself into a Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie look-alike. For some, this constitutes a costume – for Ibarra and her circle of friends, it's a way of life. Sidewalks and subway platforms are their stages.
Cleveland-born Gosselin's passion for vintage clothing eventually led her to start designing her own line, Wendelism. She staged a fashion show on the opening night of the exhibit of chevron stripe print halter dresses, a denim jumpsuit (with a matching jumper for the model's Chihuahua) and a mod minidress with circle cutouts.
"I don't consider my self a clothing designer per say," said Gosselin. "I am an artist, a sculptor, a visionary. Most of my 'Frocks' are one of a kind, constructed from vintage fabrics, with styling inspired from the late '60s, early '70s era…most importantly embodying the style and spirit of the gal who will wears it…and me."
To that end, each of the dresses was custom designed for the model wearing them – her friends, naturally.
Also on view at "Frock N Roll" are looks from Joanne Burke's collection, Chromium Dumb Bell. Burke, an illustrator and designer from London who recently did illustration work for the newly re-launched Biba collection, designs clothing inspired by '70s prog rock, heavy metal, old fairy tales and myths and Kaisik Wong, a 1970s fashion designer and artist. Mixing satin, snakeskin and metallic fabrics, the result is a take on the future as seen through the eyes of '70s bands like Alice Cooper – Burke's verdict on the best dressed band of all time.
Dressed in emerald green satin pants, a patchwork satin and velvet cape of her own design and elaborately painted eye makeup, Burke herself looks like she stepped out of an album cover.
"I just designed pieces that I wanted that I couldn't get," said Burke. "It's the girl's version of clothing worn by bands that I like."
And while Andy Warhol may have silkscreened Campbell's soup cans onto canvas, another artist in the show, Layla Lozano, builds on that concept, giving the mass produced object her own twist. Using watercolor as her medium, Lozano paints 1:1 replicas of vintage 1960s hosiery packages and 45 rpm record sleeves from her own collection - she's also a deejay.
Charming, diverse and DIY, "Frock N Roll" provides a cross-section and portrait of one of New York's many microcosms - in this case, it's San Francisco-meets-New York where glitter and glam is alive and well.
"Frock N Roll" is on view through this Saturday, April 28 at the Local Project Gallery, 2136 44th Road, Long Island City, New York, by appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org.