Beaux Arts Bizarre unveils installation art at Missouri Theatre

Friday, November 27, 2009 | 4:32 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Visitors to the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts this weekend can work off that Thanksgiving meal by taking a peek at mid-Missouri art and crafts.

The Beaux Arts Bizarre, featuring more than 40 artisans, will give visitors a chance to choose from hundreds of items. It runs until 7 p.m. Friday, and is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The classic Jimmy Stewart-Donna Reed film, "It's a Wonderful Life," shows at 3 p.m. Saturday in the theater.

Among the booths in the Missouri Theater will be Anastasia Pottinger's “Snaprageous” photo space that offers holiday portraits.

Visitors can also look forward to the debut of a piece by local craftswoman-turned-installation artist Valerie Wedel. Her work “Meandering Surrender” is part of a series of installations and uses translucent fabrics and video projections.

“It’s meant to put the visitor in a warm and loving space,” Wedel said. “Essentially it allows them to be caressed by the glowing text – it plays on the fabric in the space and makes interesting effects, meandering over the fabrics.”

Wedel designed the set for the second half of the Missouri Contemporary Ballet’s production of “Falling” and has had exhibits earlier this year at the Orr Street Studios as well as Stephens College. She participated in the Beaux Arts Bizarre in its early years but in a different capacity: She had a pastry business providing munchies for the shoppers.

Wedel decided that the business, along with the crafts work that she had been doing, would have to take a backseat as she returned to school for her second bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“I really had things I wanted to say that I wasn’t doing through jewelry and functional pottery,” Wedel said, adding that the pastry business had become time consuming.

The exhibit is a testament to the labor-intensive effort that installation art involves. Because the Beaux Arts Bizarre opened after Thanksgiving, Wedel set up “Meandering Surrender” without her assistants and put the finishing touches on it early Friday morning.

“I’m excited about having a piece with a storefront,” Wedel said. “Usually I’m tucked away in a gallery.”

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