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Surrealist Fashion Show at Beverly Arts Center to Showcase Local Designer

By Howard Ludwig | September 26, 2014 5:37am | Updated on September 26, 2014 5:38am
 Crossing into Dream: A Surrealist Fashion Show, Performance and Party will take center stage at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 10 at the Beverly Arts Center. Sandra Leonard of Beverly is the curator of the show at 2407 W. 111th St. She has been creating sculptural clothing and costumes for more than 25 years.
Surrealist Fashion Show At Beverly Arts Center
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BEVERLY — Even your most outlandish outfit will seem tame by comparison to the fashions headed to the Beverly Arts Center.

"Crossing into Dream: A Surrealist Fashion Show, Performance and Party" will take center stage on Oct. 10 at the performing arts center at 2407 W. 111th St. Tickets cost $25, and doors open at 6:30 p.m.

The show starts at 8 p.m. and features the designs of three Chicago artists, including Sandra Leonard of Beverly. Leonard has been creating sculptural clothing and costumes for more than 25 years.

Howard Ludwig says don't expect to see anything you might wear, but that's the point:

Her surrealist-inspired designs have appeared in galleries and shows in Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Paris.

"I feel like I'm making sculpture, and I start out with the human form," Leonard said.

Leonard is the lead artist and curator of the Beverly fashion show. Her designs will share the stage with fellow Chicago-based artists Alan Emerson Hicks and Courtney L. Schneider.

Hicks is a trained sculptor and mixed media artist. Among his many creations is a series of hats made from unlikely objects. Schneider is a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her renegade designs aim to address social issues through satire.

The fashion show is part of Chicago Artist Month, which aims to highlight the creative contributions of the city's artist throughout October.

Leonard said she's felt compelled to create her wild wares since falling in with a performance art group as an undergraduate at the University of North Texas. The Dadaist group served as inspiration along with surrealism, which is often considered the foundation of the Dadaism.

"Surrealism is all about the subconscious and dreamscape. Things put together that you wouldn't normally put together," Leonard said.

Her wearable art is fascinating, yet it's not the sort of thing someone would ever wear to a cocktail party or a family picnic. That doesn't concern Leonard, who hand-paints many of her fabrics and uses intricate stitching to create three-dimensional materials.

"People say, 'Who buys these?' The answer is 'No one,'" Leonard said.

She's designed more conventional children's costumes for the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum. Her designs were also featured in an industrial film staring Carol Kane.

But her passion truly lies in more avant-garde clothing, saying the biggest compliment she can ever receive is to hear the audience gasp as her designs are unveiled.

"That's what I'm going for is the surprise," Leonard said.

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