Decorative bras are on display at Sikeston Depot

Wednesday, July 5, 2006
Myra Hook sets up the display of last year's Viewer's Choice Winner of the Art of Underpinnings exhibit.

SIKESTON - The Sikeston depot has hosted an array of art exhibits over the past years, but none like the one opening today.

"The Art of Underpinnings: An Art Challenge" will be on display at the depot through August, featuring the work of artists from three states showcasing a 36 artistically decorated bras.

The bra exhibit is a fund-raising activity that supports the efforts of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program in Hickman and McCracken counties in Kentucky.

However, word of mouth and news coverage has given this exhibition national attention.

"The exhibit was picked up by the Associated Press last year and since then it has been featured in news stories from Canada to Beijing to France," said Ann Ponder Simpson, director of the RSVP for the two Kentucky counties.

Each bra has a theme and comes with its own story, explained Simpson. From "Liberace's Candela'bra'" to "Alice In Wonderbra," Simpson said it is nearly impossible to leave the exhibit without a smile on your face.

"Everyone's reaction is laughter. It is not risque or distasteful," said Simpson. "It is all in good fun for a good cause.

"We can always tell which piece someone is looking at just by their laughter or their comments. It is great," Simpson said.

The RSVP exhibit is held each year in April at the annual American Quilter Society Quilt Show and Contest in Paducah. Next April's show will mark the third year for the exhibition.

"The quilt show is great for us because it brings people in from all over the country," said Simpson. "Each year we premier the new bras at the show and award cash prizes to the winners."

The stop at the Depot marks the first time the exhibit has been available to travel.

Mike Marsh, executive director of the Sikeston Depot, said it is hoped that the exhibit will bring in a large number of people from the Sikeston area.

"We are really exited to have a famous display like this," said Marsh. "It is fun, unique and creative. Anyone who doesn't see this display will miss out on some good fun."

Not only does Simpson hope to find support in Sikeston, but also future artists who will submit bras to next year's exhibit.

"We would love to have a rodeo bra, a cotton bra and a throwed roll bra," said Simpson. "Hopefully the exhibit will arouse interest in the local artists."

Simpson said the exhibit has been very popular with all types of artists from all over the nation.

"Most of the artists we have who submit pieces are painters or quilters," said Simpson, "but this exhibit provides artists with a new canvas. This is something anyone can get into."

However, the exhibit will most likely not feature bras every year.

"By naming the show, 'The Art of Underpinnings,' we leave ourselves open for all sorts of possibilities," said Simpson. "We give out a challenge each fall to our artists. This year it is bras. The next year it could be corsets, stockings, boxers or slips. The possible variety ensures the exhibit stays fresh."

Calendars and postcards featuring the decorated bras are on sale at the Depot. Proceeds go toward the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program in Paducah and the Sikeston Depot.

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