Using their bodies as paintbrushes, 15 women – from a fire chief to a lawyer – took their clothes off and put paint on. With the help of Reno artist Jim Zlokovich, the women’s bodies became works of art on canvas.
“It was so spontaneous,” Zlokovich said. “This was truly done at the grassroots level.”
Two of the models, Denise Rush and Candy Greene, were throwing around words when they thought of falling onto a canvas. Zlokovich ran away with it soon after when a woman randomly came into his studio in need of help.
“Then a light came on,” Zlokovich said. “We’ll do this to support women in the community.”
Rush recruited models for the project and Zlokovich and artists Elaine Jason and Lily Hartung first painted the women and then painted around impressions their bodies made on canvas.
“At first all the insecurities come out,” Zlokovich said. “But once (the women) were done they were just hanging out and I was like, ‘Don’t you want to go put your clothes back on?’ We didn’t know what we were doing, we were just having fun.”
As time went on Zlokovich said the paintings became more spiritual. The experience forged a bond between the models, and by the time it was over they were calling themselves “the falling ladies.”
The 14 vibrant canvases and one multimedia work that came out of this project will be on display tonight at the appropriately titled “Falling Ladies” fundraiser art auction and gala. The canvases begin at $100. The multimedia piece, created by Jason, includes blue neon lights and begins at $200.
Eighty percent of the proceeds go to The Launching Pad, a transitional living center in Sparks for women with addiction problems. Barbara Pierson, founder of The Launching Pad, said the money will be used primarily to pay for state requirements, which have already led to the loss half of the center’s beds.
“The state of Nevada makes it extremely difficult to run legal, licensed halfway houses,” Pierson said. “The bar is so high.”
Pierson estimated that The Launching Pad needs $60,000 for all the mandates and renovations needed to be done. After paying the bills and installing a necessary state-of-the-art sprinkler system, Pierson said money is still needed for remodeling.
“We need to turn a larger room into two rooms,” she said. “And I would like for all the women to have their own closets instead of having to share.”
Doug Sandall, who is on the Board of Directors for The Launching Pad, said another bathroom is also needed in the house.
“A lot of different things like that need to be upgraded to accommodate the women,” he said.
Pierson added that it is vital that The Launching Pad remains open so it can provide women who have fallen the chance to get back on their feet.
“At the Launching Pad these women can make new friends with sober, law-abiding citizens,” Pierson said.
With the assistance of Zlokovich, Hartung, Jason and the Falling Ladies, The Launching Pad is sure to get some of its much needed help.
“As an artist I think we have to think of ways to give back to the community,” Zlokovich said. “We have to think of ways the arts can give back. Without arts there would not be color in the world.”
Most locals are familiar with Zlokovich’s work but may not even know it. The cloudscape hanging on the five-story Washoe County Courthouse in downtown Reno is his creation.
“It’s called ‘Transcendence,’ ” Zlokovich said. “It’s a memorial to all the people who have passed over to the other side.”
Zlokovich already has plans to make the Falling Ladies event annual and next year he’s reaching for the stars.
“I’m going to try to get famous local women,” he said.
Whether they are politicians or whoever, Zlokovich is confident he’ll find participants.
“It’s for a good cause,” he said.
The Falling Ladies art auction and gala is tonight at Studio on 4th at 432 East Fourth St. The event begins at 5 p.m. and costs $10 to enter. Appetizers and live music will be provided along with a no-host bar.