May 13, 2009

When art and theatre combine...

Fewer than half the mural's squares are shown above

Art and theater combine for a month at the Racine Theatre Guild's production of the musical Godspell, which opens Friday, May 15, and runs through June 7.

Hanging in the RTG's lobby is a colorful ... um, mural?... comprised of one hundred 6" by 6", paintings? ... each by a different local artist.

The project, called Art Squared, is a fund-raiser for both the Racine Art Guild, which put it together, and the Racine Theatre Guild, which is displaying it. But its fund-raising purpose is far less interesting than its reality: a beautiful mural of incredible originality, with each square representing the Godspell theme in some way.

Yes, there are paintings on canvas. But there are also collages, three-dimensional sculptures, mosaics and what-have-you. The variety is stunning; while it's possible to pick a few that you don't like, it's almost impossible to pick a favorite.

Which makes the Art Guild's sales plan for the mural squares especially clever: Godspell theatre-goers will have the opportunity to buy a square; the price is a very reasonable $20. But there's a catch: Buyers won't know which canvas they've bought until the end of the exhibition when a random drawing matches buyers with the specific artwork they may take home.

The project was put together by Janet Mrazek and James Chaplin of the Art Guild, who saw a similar program in Door County. Artists and Art Guild members were "sold" a blank six-inch canvas for $10, and told to complete it in any medium, even three-dimensional. The goal of the project is to encourage community-wide awareness of the arts in Racine -- and to raise a little money for Art Guild scholarships and the Theatre Guild.

Each artist also submitted a brief explanation about the submitted artwork, which will be given to the buyer when canvases are distributed.

Theatre-goers have a second chance to participate in the project as well; everyone attending the play is encouraged to select their favorite canvas and write its number on their ticket stub, which can be deposited in a ballot box in the RTG's lobby. On June 11, at the Racine Art Guild's Pot Luck Dinner at the Wustum Museum, prizes will be awarded to the winners: $250 for first place, $125 for second and $75 for third.

There's also a reception for the 100 artists at the Theatre Guild on Saturday morning, May 16, from 10 - 11 a.m.

Poster shows all the participating artists

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