Thursday, April 8, 2010

Unmasking the Art of the Mask

Whether worn to a costume party, purchased during Mardi Gras, or used in sacred African rituals, masks are part of various cultures and traditions around the world. Their artistic beauty, however, is often just as important and valued as their purpose. Likewise, their decorative nature and varied designs make them important and desired items to view, learn about and collect.During a previous trip to Venice, I fell in love with the city's numerous mask and costume shops (among other things). I purchased an ornately rhinestoned golden plaster mask - one that I myself never intend to wear - but rather look at it as a unique piece of art that sticks out among my growing collection.Two Colorado art collectors - Gary Hixon and his wife Carol Ann, feel strongly about collecting masks as well. The couple has built an impressive mask collection, beginning with Gary's own creation, for which he made for the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art's signature Fundraising event in 2004. Over the past six years, the couple has obtained masks by many local artists and one by Colorado Senator Bob Bacon. Many of Hixon's masks will be on display at "Masks at MoCA" (through May 7th), an exhibit of 50 dazzling masks as well as an auction of 150 new masks made by local artists and community members. The auction will raise money for the museum's educational programs.
Wendy Franzen, a mask artist and collector (who also created ART342 with her husband, an artist-in-residency program), recently discussed the FCMoCA's Mask Exhibition:

"The artists are taking more risks. That first year [2004], most people just painted their mask. There weren't the sculptural pieces or the pieces where the mask is set into other elements, all the things you see now. Each year it expands more and more with ideas. They never seem to run out of ideas."Click here to check out some tips on mask collecting