Cat Pennenga Discusses ‘iconcept Fashion Show’ 2012

Art Walks the Runway when Art Center Sarasota presents the fourth annual iconcept event on March 30, but we talk to the curator first!

“Mommy’s in the Market for Monet” by Barbara Gerdeman

Art Walks the Runway when Art Center Sarasota presents the fourth annual iconcept event on March 30, 2012 at 7pm. Sarasota Visual Art interviews our friend, and this years curator, Cat Pennenga.

Cat Pennenga
Courtesy of Cat Pennenga

Please give us a brief description of what iConcept is.

iconcept Fashion Show is a celebration of local artists working outside of their comfort zone in the medium of fashion. A select group of artists from the Sarasota area are challenged to create ensembles that will walk in a runway show, using non-traditional materials (this year artists are using a variety of materials including recycled grocery bags, wood veneer and latex gloves as fabric). The event also includes a pre-show dance performance by local collective Urban Spiral Dance Group, food catered by the Ringling Picnic food trucks, a raffle, artist boutique, an after-show dessert bar and a special surprise performance that I can’t wait to reveal!

Proceeds from this event benefit Art Center Sarasota’s youth and adult education programs, outreach for underserved youth, over 20 all-media art exhibitions annually and culturally oriented public programming.

"Wave- Flora" by Andrea Mihalyffy & Carl Abbott
"Wave- Flora" by Andrea Mihalyffy & Carl Abbott (photo by Jenny Acheson)

How is this event different than other fashion shows?

First, it is more outrageous! Secondly, the participants in this show are fine artists, and not fashion designers. While some are familiar working working with textiles, most are not. Also, this show celebrates each individual artist, as opposed to a whole show dedicated to one designer.

"The Wooden Dress" by Whitley Floyd & Wood Street Studio
"The Wooden Dress" by Whitley Floyd & Wood Street Studio (photo by Jenny Acheson)

How did you become involved with the project?

Two years ago I was asked to coordinate just the fashion show by one of the artists, my friend Stephanie Peters. Because of my experience producing photo shoots and fashion shows for SRQ Magazine, it was a fun extra project for me. This year, when iconcept creator Lisa Berger was leaving her position at the Art Center, she almost canceled the event but instead asked if I would take it over. Luckily Lisa has stayed involved and has been helping me along the way!

by Vicky Randall
Dress by by Vicky Randall (photo by Jenny Acheson)

I understand that you have been in front of the camera from time to time. Do you think that this influences your work as a curator?

Do you mean behind the camera? I pretty much hate being in front of the camera! I do approach almost everything I do from the perspective of “How will this look in photos?”, it is the photographer and editor in me. So that does contribute a bit to the process of seeing how the outfits are coming together, and how strong they will look on stage. My experience organizing complicated photo shoots definitely contributes to my ability to organize the many people involved in this event!

“Mommy’s in the Market for Monet” by Barbara Gerdeman
“Mommy’s in the Market for Monet” by Barbara Gerdeman (photo by Jenny Acheson)

How does this event help contribute to the local arts community?

I think it inspires the artists who are in the show to work in a new medium and with new materials, which invigorates everyone who witnesses the show. Most importantly the event directly supports the Art Center Sarasota, which is an integral part of Sarasota’s arts community.

"Point of Interests" by Stephanie Peters
"Point of Interests" by Stephanie Peters (photo by Jenny Acheson)

How did you go about selecting the artists and what was the driving force behind your choices?

I chose artists that had been successful in the last 3 shows and then I reached out to artists and designers in the community who I thought would bring a creative and unique perspective to the show. We really want every year to be unique from the last, and for the artists to push themselves farther each year.

"DRIFT WOOD DREAMS" by Iris Baranski-Daniels
"DRIFT WOOD DREAMS" by Iris Baranski-Daniels (photo by Jenny Acheson)

What makes this years iConcept different from the previous years?

We are changing the runway layout so it looks and feels more like a professional fashion show, and we are working with a DJ (DjQ of Static Grooves) who will be curating his music to go with the outfits. There is also an after-show coffee and dessert bar in the newly renovated sculpture garden, and a surprise performance by Urban Spiral Dance Group. Also, this year our event emcee is Jaszy McAllister, who has modeled in iconcept for the last two years. So she will bring a unique perspective to the event.

“Cupcake Candy Pop” by Christina Michiels
“Cupcake Candy Pop” by Christina Michiels (photo by Jenny Acheson)

Describe some of the stories behind your favorite pieces in the show.

It is too impossible to pick any favorites, but some of the stories that stand out are: Pamela Sumner created a dress that is inspired by a pile of pencil shavings she noticed in her studio. It is uncanny to see how well she translated this inspiration! Ray Peper created a very intricate ensemble inspired by various Salvador Dali paintings, it has a lot of intellect and humor in it. Stephanie Peters has created an outfit from bubble wrap and photos of areas she and her daughter Raven often go together (Raven will be modeling this dress).

"Pencil Shaving" by Pamela Sumner
"Pencil Shaving" by Pamela Sumner (photo by Jenny Acheson)

Can you give us an idea of some of the materials being used this year?

Recycled plastic grocery bags, recycled newspaper bags, wood veneer, latex gloves, recycled water bottles, edible candy and recycled bicycle tires to name a few.

What’s next for iConcept after this show?

Hopefully the torch can be passed on again and someone new can curate/produce it next year!

Where can our readers find out more information about this years iConcept?

www.facebook.com/IconceptFashionShow
http://artsarasota.dreamhosters.com/iconcept

"Vow Renewal" by Willow Livengood
"Vow Renewal" by Willow Livengood (photo by Jenny Acheson)

Art Walks the Runway when Art Center Sarasota presents the fourth annual iconcept event on March 30, 2012 at 7pm. Tickets are $75 for VIP front row seats (sold out last year) with special extras; General Admission tickets are $40. The evening includes a red carpet arrival, light snacks catered by the Ringling Picnic Food Trucks, drinks, entertainment by Urban Spiral Dance Company, a unique boutique and a spectacular runway show of avant-garde fashion. Guests are invited to create their own outrageous statements to wear to the event and enjoy the Center’s newly renovated bold and contemporary interior and exterior garden spaces.

A select group of creative and talented artists from the Sarasota area were invited to display their work through the medium of fashion. Witness their creativity come to life in a dazzling runway show. Using mostly non-traditional materials, the artists are challenged to create unique, over-the-top pieces that express their artistic vision. iconcept 2012 will once again blow the audience away with outrageous fashion and creative performances.

Proceeds from this event will benefit Art Center Sarasota’s youth and adult education programs, outreach for underserved youth, over 20 all-media art exhibitions annually and culturally oriented public programming.

Art Center Sarasota, 707 N. Tamiami Tr. Sarasota 941-365- 2032 www.artsarasota.org