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Nationally known artists headline three-day event

Three world-renowned artists — a body-painter from Ashland who won a $100,000 prize for her work, a seminal wearable art designer and a classical oil painter — will highlight the third annual Art Inspires Ashland Friday through Sunday, Nov. 14-16.

The event seeks to inspire and educate local artists by exposing them to the skills of famous artists, both in TED-type talks and hands-on workshops, says its organizer Denise Baxter, executive director of Ashland Art Center. It's also the center's largest fundraiser of the year. Proceeds from the event help fund the work of the Art Center, including children’s workshops, arts education classes and professional artist support.

Art Inspires Ashland begins with talks, a silent auction and hors d’oeuvres for the entire community Friday evening at Ashland Springs Hotel ballroom. Social time starts at 6 with presentations beginning at 7:30 p.m. Dan Thompson will talk about portrait drawing, Jean Williams Cacicedo about fiber art and Natalie Fletcher about body painting. Tickets, $35, are available at artinspiresashland.org.

For the artist community, middle school ages on up, the noted artists will present workshops Saturday and Sunday.

Thompson, a New Yorker, paints and draws from life. His works have been exhibited in prestigious galleries around the world, including the National Arts Club in New York, the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. and The World Art Museum in Beijing. He co-founded two schools of art in New York City and conducts workshops all over the U.S.

He'll lead “The Portrait in Red Chalk” from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15. It costs $105 ($85 for Art Center members) to participate. Participants create a portrait in red chalk on hand-toned paper, learn mark-making and hatch marks, while chiseling planes of the human face.

Cacicedo received a bachelor's degree in sculpture from the Pratt Institute, New York, in 1970. Based in Berkeley, she has been teacher, curator, lecturer and visiting artist in Spilt Rock Arts Program, Shakerag Workshops in Tennessee and Hong Kong Polytechnic in China. She was a leader in the wearable art movement of the '70s and a 30-year retrospective of her work was featured at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco.

Cacicedo leads “Notan: The Dynamics of Design” from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15,  ($80 or $65). "Notan" (the interaction between positive and negative space) will be discussed while participants work on paper collages. It’s open to all levels of experience.

Fletcher, a native Texan, creates landscape camouflage illusions blending models into natural scenery. She moved to Ashland in 2006 to attend a four-year intensive painting program and after graduating, got her first job as a body painter. In 2014, she won first prize on the reality-television body painting competition called "Skin Wars." Asked what she would do with the $100,000 prize, she said she would become an art advocate for body painting and show how beautiful an art form it is.

Fletcher leads “Body as Canvas: a Demonstration” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, ($30 or $25). She will paint a camouflage illusion onto a figure to blend them into a background. She will discuss the details of body painting, including materials, answer questions while working and demonstrate how airbrushing differs from hand-painting.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.