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The faces of compassion

What do local artists Dean Bowlby, Wewer Keohane, James Elliot, Arlene Law, Kikuko Woodyard, Nancy Martin, Bernie Boettcher and others have in common with Bill Cosby, Adam West, Glenn Close, Brooke Shields, Tippi Hedron, Martin Landau and a host of other celebrities?

They’re all participating in The Mask Project3, an exhibit and sale of painted masks to benefit Hospice of Metro Denver.

While all of the famous names seem impressive, local artists are making a big impact on the benefit.



First, the mask printed on this year’s brochure cover and on promotional mouse pads is by Boettcher, a Silt resident and a columnist for the Post Independent.

The image, which is of two of his signature “spirit figures” sharing a torch, was also reproduced into a floor-to-ceiling silk screen that hangs for visitors to see at the posh Cherry Creek Mall, where the exhibit is on display through May 26.



More than 500 hand-painted masks are featured in this year’s project. Participants include media and sports celebrities, designers, community leaders, and nationally known artists and musicians.

Local participants are all members of the Glenwood Springs Art Guild. In addition to the above artists, they include Bob Wood, Berard Hofmann, Sally Thompson, Ruth J. Kary, Irene Schilling Connor and Portia Griefenberg. Art Guild members living in Denver who are participating include Tom Berger and Jackie McFarland.

This is the second year Boettcher’s image has been featured in an oversized fashion at the exhibit. His figures have also been represented locally in artwork for Summer of Jazz, Strawberry Days, the Glenwood Dance Festival and other events.

“Those spirit figures really get around,” he said.

Boettcher was surprised and honored at having his artwork displayed in such a prominent manner. “There are some hefty people represented there,” he said. “That’s what makes it such a thrill.”

His 2001 mask sold for $850, and the sale of masks by Art Guild members brought in more for Hospice than any other local artists group in the state.

“I really do think it’s a great cause,” Boettcher said of Hospice.

This year’s image represents Boettcher and his girlfriend, Jeanne Blatter, who carried the Olympic Flame in the 2002 Torch Relay on Feb. 2. Below the figures, whose eyes make the eyes of the mask, are five circles, much like the Olympic insignia, that read, “Light the fire within.”

“That’s representational of passing on the torch from one person to the next,” he said, “as Hospice does.”

Art Guild members learned of the project two years ago through the daughter of Portia Griefenberg, of Glenwood Springs. Griefenberg’s daughter works at the Cherry Creek Mall.

Project participants are sent paint supplies and a mask, which they can decorate in any fashion they choose. All they have to do is decorate the mask and return it.

The Mask Project3 exhibit is located throughout the Cherry Creek Mall. Masks are for sale through an auction, which will close May 26, with all proceeds benefiting Hospice and other Denver area community programs. Anyone can bid on masks on the Internet by visiting http://www.maskproject.com or http://www.themaskproject.org.

Visitors to the gallery can bid on masks or purchase and design their own mask.

A gala celebration will be held from 7:30-11 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at the shopping center. Several masks, including Boettcher’s, will be auctioned off at the event. Other masks can be bid on on-line until May 26. For more information or to purchase tickets for the event, call 303-321-2828, ext. 1049.


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