Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Follow Whimsical Art Trail - RocNow.com


by Democrat and Chronicle
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Follow Whimsical Art Trail

Nancy E. McCarthy
Museums – July 27, 2010 - 5:00am
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Local artist Nancy Wiley depicts Alice in Wonderland in this exhibit piece.

This summer, Strong National Museum of Play is adding some playful art to the mix.

The “Whimsical Art Trail” is on display through Oct. 24 and celebrates the fanciful creations of three local artists with national reputations: Dianne Dengel, Nancy Wiley and Craig Wilson.

Eclectic clusters of their sculptural and art-doll works will be displayed throughout the museum to create the trail of whimsy.

For Dengel, who lives in her childhood home in Rochester, it’s another stop along her interesting creative path.

The self-taught painter and doll maker once appeared on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, finger-painting Fred Rogers’ portrait.

She also painted a portrait of a young Oprah Winfrey, which Winfrey accepted as a 50th birthday present.

Dengel recalls meeting Margaret Woodbury Strong, whose collection launched the Strong Museum, at a Rochester art show in the 1960s.

Dengel’s style was still evolving, so “it was very primitive,” she says. Yet Strong purchased two of her art dolls, sending a limousine to Dengel’s studio to pick them up.

Wiley, of Canandaigua, remembers visiting the “legendary” museum as a child with her mother, an avid doll collector.

Wiley’s art-doll installations have sold for as much as $10,000 to private collectors (including celebrities such as Demi Moore and Anne Rice) and have been exhibited in galleries and museums across the country.

One of Wiley’s latest projects is a series of Alice in Wonderland art dolls; these are exhibit pieces, not the kind of dolls children play with.

Wilson, a Rochester native, is an Exhibits 3-D designer for Strong Museum as well as a distinguished wildlife sculptor working in steel.

Craig has created top-notch, unique and playful art for the museum for years and has a prolific artistic career,” says Corrie Kraai, public programs coordinator.

Wilson’s sculptures have been exhibited in many places, including the Natural History Museum in Beijing.

For more information, call (585) 263-2700 or go to www.museumofplay.org.

Nancy E. McCarthy is a Rochester-area freelance writer.

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