OCEANSIDE — Fairwinds-Ivey Ranch was abuzz with excitement Jan. 14, as models, hairstylists, makeup artists and photographers prepared for the afternoon runway show and upcoming exhibits in the San Diego Visual Arts Network “Hats Off to Life” project.
The “Hats Off to Life” project features nine hats crafted by local artists out of crinkled plastic, feather-covered felt and bejeweled straw. The hats will be shown in three unique exhibits.
The first exhibit was the runway show at Fairwinds-Ivey Ranch. Models 80 and older walked the hats down the catwalk while event emcee and San Diego Visual Arts Network Coordinator Patricia Frischer shared information on the artists, their visions and materials used.
Next, the major exhibit at Hera Hub female entrepreneur workspaces in Sorrento Valley will combine a photo exhibit of the hats with live models wearing the hats at the opening reception Feb. 23.
The final show will be the photo exhibit at Fairwinds-Ivey Ranch.
The vision of the project is to prompt viewers to recognize ageless beauty. The goal of the project is to form artist and community collaboration.
“Beauty doesn’t have to be perfect proportions or youthful,” Denise Sarram, Fairwinds-Ivey Ranch program supervisor, said. “It’s the story behind your face and your life. The project honors that.”
The “Hats Off to Life” project was conceived following the San Diego Visual Arts Network “Art Meets Fashion” project of spring 2011. The kernel idea was to ask artists to design hats. Then the project committee added the use of older models to show off the hats and a photo exhibit to record the art. After project plans were set, the artist network put out a call for artists, hair and makeup stylists and photographers.
“It’s very, very simple ideas once they come into your head,” Frischer said. “It’s just a matter of paying attention. Then things become obvious.”
The artists involved voluntarily participated for recognition, to give back to the community and to stretch themselves as artists.
Models were recruited from Fairwinds-Ivey Ranch retirement community. A call for models was put out to retirement community residents and Sarram personally recruited a few residents.
“I approached a couple of people who would enjoy this experience,” Sarram said. “Some of them modeled in the past or made hats. I don’t think they realize how grand the scope of this is. Saturday is the catwalk and I think they’ll realize then how special this really is.”
Prior to the runway show, models were glammed up by a crew of hair and makeup artists, fitted with hats and photographed for pictures that will be displayed at Hera Hub and Fairwinds-Ivey Ranch.
“I think it’s fun,” model Gloria Winship, 85, said. “I’m game for anything. I’ve modeled through the years for different things.”
In comparison to other San Diego Visual Arts Network undertakings, Hats Off to Life is considered a small project with three planned exhibits, two venues, and eight principal artists involved. The scale of the project allowed Frischer time to design two of the hats. Fellow hat artists are Rosemary KimBal, Robin Przbysz, Robin Sanchez, Yumi Richards, Debb Solan, Valentine Viannay and Pam Zimbalist.
“It’s very important that artists have venues in the public to show their art,” Frischer said.
San Diego Visual Arts Network is a nonprofit artist network that has 3,500 mail list members.
The organization runs chiefly online. Artists self-post their profiles and upcoming exhibits.
Artists also have opportunities to participate in San Diego Visual Arts projects, which are funded chiefly through volunteer participation and in-kind donations.