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The Mother Lode Group Bursts Through the February Blues with “Do It In Red”

By Michael Summers


Fort Wayne Reader


If an art opening conjures images of awkward conversations and bad wine, the kick-off of the “Do It In Red” show is bound to be an eye-opener. Over two-dozen women artists will be showing their work, which encompasses wide variety of pieces from sculpture to photography to paintings. The only thing the pieces have in common is the color red. “Red can be about passion, sex, death, anger, jellybeans, stop signs, whatever,” says Beth Callender, one of the organizers of the show. “It can be about a lot of those things, but whatever associations you have with it, red is a color that can’t be ignored.”

Callender is a member of the Mother Lode Group along with Marcy Adams, Deb Washler, Mary Montgomery, and Karen Thompson. The organization helps promote women artists in Fort Wayne. “Do It In Red” is the second event in what the group hopes to be a series of art shows. The group’s name came from the theme of the first show: one of the meanings of “mother lode” is the richest, most abundant vein of valuable material is a particular region. To the members of the group, it seemed an apt metaphor for Fort Wayne’s art community.

Marcy Adams, a high school art teacher, says the idea was hatched by a conversation she had with Jenny Sanders, another art teacher. “We had this idea that all types of women artists could show their work in this group, and they could learn from each other. But we had so many things going on that we couldn’t pull it together — Jenny has six kids and I have three, and just doing the work itself is a monumental thing.” She credits Callender for getting the idea off the ground and running. “She had to make all the phones calls and figure out where to do the advertising. We pulled the first show together very quickly. We had 27 women artists who only had a month’s notice that they were going to be in a show.”

Despite the short notice, the results were better than any one in the group had anticipated. Not only was the work itself diverse and interesting, but the opening was a lot more lively than a typical art show. “The first show was phenomenal — lots of people, great interest,” says Adams. “People got a kick out of seeing a bunch of broads get together and pull this off.”

The Mother Lode Group is hoping to better the performance for the “Do It In Red” opening at the Avant-Garde Gallery on February 14th. Children’s book author/illustrator Claire Ewart will be signing copies of her books, and there will be carnations, chocolate, a cash bar and refreshments available. If this doesn’t sound much like a staid art opening to you, well, that’s the idea. “Art show openings shouldn’t be boring,” says Deb Washler.

The members of the Mother Lode Group say part of their aim is to change the perception of art by women as “all landscapes and flowers.” But the over-riding agenda of the Mother Lode Group is less political and more organizational. The paucity of affordable gallery space in Fort Wayne makes the shows that the Mother Lode Group organizes attractive to women artists juggling day jobs, careers, and family life. “Putting on events like ‘Do It In Red’ is kind of an incentive for women who don’t have enough time to market their own careers, so they can show regularly without having to be out there every day pounding the pavement with their portfolio trying to get a show at a gallery,” says Beth Callender.

Besides putting on events, the Mother Lode Group also hopes to provide a means for women artists to network, organize, and learn from each other. A particular issue with the groups is marketing. “If you’re an artist, an art program or an art degree teaches you how to hone your craft, how to work and create in different mediums,” says Deb Washler. “What you aren’t taught, and which is very important, is how to market your work, how to put a portfolio together, how to approach a gallery about a show.”

A third event is already in the works. In response to the number of male artists interested in the Mother Lode Group’s shows, there will be a Battle of the Sexes show later this year, where the audience can vote on what they think is the “best.” Though scoring art like one might score an Olympic high-dicing event seems antithetical, the members of the Mother Lode Group are confident it’ll be taken in a spirit of fun. “We want to get people who would not normally go to an art opening,” says Washler. “We want people to see our openings as more of an event or an entertainment.”

Do It In Red runs Februrary 14th – March 22nd at the Avant-Garde Gallery, 1301 Lafayette Street

Do It In Red
Opening Reception: February 14th, 2004 6 PM
Avant-Garde Gallery
1301 Lafayette Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46802

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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.