April 17-18, 2004
How exactly does a Beastie take flight? Well, if you ask Karen Rossi, she would probably tell you that it requires no more than a few tubes of paint, a handful of helpers, and a fair share of creativity. This was the recipe that she used this past weekend as she prepared for Milwaukee's Beastie Beat 2004. The popular public art exhibit, the largest in Wisconsin, is now returning after a successful display in 2002. And Karen, along with 60 to 70 other artists, was chosen once again, to be a part of this exciting exhibit. This year, each artist was asked to interpret the theme, "Set Your Life To Music," using one of Dennis Pearson's trademark fiberglass Beasties as his or her canvas. Karen chose to continue with the "Fiddler on the Roof" theme, which began with her 2002 Beastie called "To Life." This year, "If I Were a Rich Man" served as her musical inspiration. The lyrics of the song proved to be the perfect text on which to base her whimsical illustrations. Scenes and imagery depicting "the good life" cover the Beastie, which is appropriately titled "If I Were a Rich Man….Or Woman…Or Beastie."
The transformation began on Friday night, April 16th, 2004, when Karen and her crew of helpers (Karen's fiance Greg, Rossi Studios Illustrator Heather, and her boyfriend Adam) flew into Milwaukee to begin their work. The Beastie was waiting for them in the front window of the DeLind Gallery of Fine Art so that passersby could see the artwork as it was being created. The opening night of the gallery added lots of life and excitement, as guests flocked around the art piece, eager to see how the project was taking shape. And, it wasn't long before the creature was covered with doodles and sketches, well on its way to being transformed in true Rossi style. On Saturday, the Beastie was transported outside where it drew the attention of all those who walked by. Volunteers helped by painting solid colors within the outlines that Karen had drawn. What began as a cute, yet rather plain, creature was brought to life over the course of the weekend. Each day, Karen added more of her whimsical touch by covering the Beastie with her trademark flying people, as well as bright, vibrant illustrations, and sparkling gems and glitter.
Now the Beastie awaits its grand debut, when it will grace the Grand Avenue Shops with its presence. From June until September, the Beasties will be on display. Then, they will be auctioned off to benefit the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra League and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra education programs