Fairy tales are all the rage these days. Whether they're Disney classics or recycled plots appearing as "adult fairy tales," in Hollywood films or TV, the Kunstanke artists say there's no denying that fairy tales have had a resurgence.
The local artists who formed Kunstanke -- "art thought" in Norwegian -- several years ago have offered their take on Disney fairy tales with a contemporary twist of their own in the exhibit "Blinded by Enchantment," at the Orinda Library Gallery through November.
When Phyllis Lasche saw fellow artist Jimmie Beardsley's mixed media piece of "Bounded Barbies," Barbie dolls wrapped in fabric, Lasche commented that the pieces looked "as if the Barbies have been blinded by enchantment," said artist TaVee Magner.
"When we talk about fairy tales as women, we get these ideas from childhood about someday our prince will come and magic will happen," said Magner, a Martinez resident.
So when the Kunstanke art group thought of a fairy tale theme for its new show, "Blinded by Enchantment" seemed a fitting title as the artists worked on pieces that challenge some common fairy tales.
"Some girls grow up with the fairy tale that Prince Charming is going to save them," said Beardsley. "They have essentially bound and blinded themselves."
Aside from the "Bound Barbies" piece, Beardsley, whose career as a muralist and designer spanned several years, also offers her version of Prince Charming -- a ceramic frog prince in a cage. Beardsley said that the frog piece represents the pressure that some boys have about one day growing up to save a damsel in distress.
"I was widowed at 34 years old and raised three daughters who weren't raised to wait for Prince Charming," Beardsley said. "They were raised and encouraged to do anything and be anything they wanted."
Beardsley said she loves the support she gets from monthly meetings with her fellow women artists. She's been creating art all her life and, at 76, said there's still more art to share with the world.
"Art keeps me in inquiry about life," Beardsley said. "I've mostly moved from one medium to the next. Color is a big part of my life. I start a painting with color and let the canvas decide what it wants."
Magner created a series of painting and photography portraits of children she knows -- her nieces and nephews and her neighbors' kids -- as fairy tale characters.
"I wanted the children in my life to talk to me about fairy tale characters," she said.
Another piece was inspired by what a fairy tale character wore. One day, while searching the Internet for a particular Sleeping Beauty costume, Magner found hundreds of photos of Sleeping Beauty costumes.
While she didn't find the one she was searching for, she thought of an idea to print the photos. Inviting her closest women friends, Magner hosted a "cutting party" one evening where each guest cut costumes out of the photos she gathered.
"When we were young, we played with paper dolls," Magner said. "So, there we were -- a bunch of grown women with paper dolls."
The result was Magner's installation of paper dolls with Sleeping Beauty costumes.
The exhibit includes Lasche's abstract works meditating on the hero's journey and Myra Latkin's works which are part of a series "Keeper of the Sun," based on Mayan iconography and beliefs. Latkin's watercolor illustrations accompany a Mayan-style myth she wrote. Brigitte Bize presents her three large oil paintings based on the Cinderella theme.
Magner said she hopes the public gets a more realistic view of fairy tales as depicted by their art.
"In the old stories, a lot more work has to be done before magic can occur in our lives," she said.
What: "Blinded by Enchantment" Artists Fairy Tale exhibit
When: through November
Where: Orinda Library Gallery, 26 Orinda Way