Wilmington artists and friends collaborate on whimsical collection of 26 masks

Dave Klinger makes the mask's form, and Elizabeth Darrow brings it to life with color. This is "Cardinal Sins," one of Darrow's favorite pieces in the exhibit. Photo by Dave Klinger.

You can see the work of Wilmington-based artists Elizabeth Darrow and Dave Klinger at Art in Bloom Gallery in Wilmington. Darrow is a painter who’s found success in the Triangle market.

Wilmington-based artists Elizabeth Darrow and Dave Klinger, friends since 2015, had never thought of collaborating until Klinger’s wife Lisa Humphries suggested it at a party in May.

The result of two months of work is 26 brightly colored masks made of paper mache by Klinger, decorated with acrylic paint and whimsical items by Darrow. The exhibition is called “Making Masks: A Collaboration” and will be on view at Art in Bloom Gallery in Wilmington from August 4 to 26, with an opening reception on August 4. The pieces range from $150 to $230 (according to Art in Bloom’s website, two have already sold).

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“We got along as friends first,” said Klinger, who met Darrow at a meditation group in 2015. “We trusted that the other would use their creativity and intuition to elevate the piece in their way. … Elizabeth never guided me, and I never guided her.”

The mask collection includes “Stink Bug,” a woman with seashell ears and a pink and green face, “PotHead (Going Green),” a man wearing a hat made of a terracotta pot with green vines trailing and “Bird Boy,” a red mask with a beak, sad eyes and feathers for hair.

Klinger would make a new mask form almost every other day, Darrow said, and it was up to her to bring it to life.

“Once you’re handed this form and you know it’s all up to you, you just begin,” Darrow said. “If you begin in a way that doesn’t take you the way you want to go, you paint another layer.”

She describes the masks as “fun and light,” with her favorite being one called “Cardinal Sins.” It’s a nun with dryer lint hair, wearing some beat-up wire-frame glasses that Darrow had been waiting to find a use for. Perched atop her habit are two ruby-red cardinals.

Darrow, whose work is on view at the Lee Hansley Gallery in Raleigh, is a painter who tends toward oil on canvas pieces depicting lush plants, bright-eyed animals and stylized people. Her art is also at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, SAS in Cary and more.

She and Klinger had pieces at Art in Bloom during its inaugural year in 2015. He exhibits wood crafts including containers, mezuzah cases (which hold parchment with Hebrew scriptures) and tea light holders. Klinger’s always glad to work with a different medium.

“If you study a certain material, you start to think in that material,” he said. “If you just think in design, then the right material will be a part of your support system.”

Darrow is excited to see where Wilmington’s arts scene goes in the next few years.

“Back in 1977, it was a much smaller town than it is now,” she said. “It’s a really exciting arts scene. … The arts are really thriving in Wilmington between the galleries and the Cameron Art Museum and the theaters.”

‘Making Masks: A Collaboration’

Who: Artists Elizabeth Darrow and Dave Klinger
When: Opening reception 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 4
Where: Art in Bloom Gallery (Gallery 2), 210 Princess Street, Wilmington
Cost: Free


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