Kevin Christman, left, Debra Thornton, sitting, Brooks Sharp, Libby Edson, Gabrriel Mark Lipper, Denise Souza Finney, Inger Jorgensen, and Sarah Burns get into character. - Photo by Jamie Lusch

For art's sake

An art form new to the Rogue Valley will debut Sunday evening at EdenVale Winery. Tableau Vivant is a group of living, costumed people frozen in a rich, artistic setting designed to evoke a hyperrealistic painting.

This "living art," called "Art for SART: (Sexual Assault Response Team) A Night in Bohemian Paris," will be created before your eyes, made up of participants who win spots in the tableau by bidding on them, says the event's producer, Greg Frederick. Frederick and his band, The Rogue Suspects, will perform at the event.

"You're going to see a hands-on, interactive art event that includes, not just the fine art, but music and food, like a kid's event for grown-ups," Frederick says. "When do we get to see art made and completed, from conception to completion? This is it."

The event begins at 5 p.m. Sunday at EdenVale Winery, 2310 Voorhies Road, Medford. A $50 ticket buys art, music and a catered dinner, and wines will be available. Admission without dinner costs $25.

The colorful and richly costumed tableau will be set in turn-of-the-century (1900-1920s) Paris in a bohemian artist colony, bubbling with painters and sculptors, as well as vendors of foods, jewelry and other crafts, says Inger Jorgensen, its art director.

Models will stand for short stints while photographer Debra Thornton takes pictures. The lighting is key. It's arranged to eliminate shadow and tease the senses into thinking it's a two-dimensional painting, while the people are clearly more real than any photograph.

"The event is about art for art's sake," Jorgensen says. "In American culture, we tend not to be aware of the importance of art in everyday life, but here, instead of it being a dry benefit auction, we want you to be immersed in it."

Each of the 14 models gets a limited edition, archivally matted, 11-by-14-inch, giclee print, with a 24-by-30-inch print going to the prime participant. If there are more than 14 bidders, some can be used as "extras" in the background. Even if you're not in the tableau, you are encouraged to get into the spirit and dress in period rags.

The event's producers welcome corporations to bring in their workers for a team-building tableau and photo. The art photograph will be manipulated with Photoshop to fill in the Paris background of the times.

Similar events are common in large cities. In Laguna Beach, Calif., for example, Pageant of the Masters welcomes 155,000 people to 61 shows and raises $1.8 million annually, according to a New York Times write-up. It has run since 1933.

Tableau Vivant will promote local wineries and art — with many fine artists ready to create portraits of participants — and will aim to become an annual tradition, with a new beneficiary each year. The goal this year is to clear $5,000, Frederick says, to support SART and its first responders to reports of rape, helping victims with compassion and experience through the medical and legal processes.

The platinum sponsor of Art for SART is Rogue Valley Medical Center. Tickets and information are at www.artforsart.org, as well as images of the Laguna Beach tableaux, to give you an idea of the impact of the art.

"People flock to be part of the art forms, which are often paintings by the old masters," Jorgensen says. "We do the makeup and dress you in costumes. The lighting also is important. It's very festive and brings the Left Bank and the Lost Generation to life."

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