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Byrne, Strunk make artistic fashion statement in their medium at the Dunedin Fine Arts Center

dUNEDIN — Even fashion can come with hazards.

Don't believe it?

Check out the Wearable Art Fashion Show Saturday at the Dunedin Fine Art Center.

In fairness, the event is mostly conceptual and the clothes are created for the show by artists.

So "wearable" and "clothes" are, in some cases, states of mind.

Take the offerings of Mark Byrne and Frank Strunk III, two of the 10 who are participating.

Better known as the Balloon Guy, Byrne will present five ensembles made from . . . do I have to say it?

"I was studying at Parsons (the prestigious design school in New York) and just fell into it. I was doing magic shows to make extra money and a guy said, 'You have to do balloons. Kids love them.' I was 28 and hated kids but I fell in love with the art of balloons. My speciality is hats. I can make anything a person requests in five minutes or less. By the way, I'm 46 now and have two kids so I don't hate them anymore."

Byrne also makes sculptures and, when asked, clothes. He recently returned from Shanghai, where he participated in two balloon art fashion shows that were part of an international circus convention.

He is used to the inevitable jokes about pins and needles.

"I have a solution for that," Byrne says. "I'm going to do this dress for a fundraiser and put slips of paper in the balloons that have prizes written on them. The model will walk around with a pincushion and sell pins. You pop a balloon to find out your prize."

Frank Strunk III's outfits are as unyielding as Byrne's are ephemeral. Strunk is a sculptor whose medium is metal. He has participated in the Wearable Art Fashion Show since its inception four years ago, and his warrior goddess interpretations are always the crowd-rousing finale.

"I am not a fashion designer," Strunk says. "That's an entirely different vocabulary. These are fun, throwaway things that I don't take seriously."

But he enjoys seeing how far he can push his materials and, collaterally, how far he can push those who wear them.

Strunk will present 11 outfits including the one shown here, a skirt made of bronze and copper and a bra primarily composed of two flashing lights like those used in police sirens.

"Every outfit I make is uncomfortable," he says. "There can be scrapes and cuts but I don't use iron so I tell the models they won't get tetanus."

Lennie Bennett can be reached at (727) 893-8293 or


The Wearable Art Fashion Show

At the Dunedin Fine Art Center, 1143 Michigan Ave., on Saturday. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show is at 9 p.m. An after-party features the band Have Gun Will Travel. General admission, $15; reserved seating, $35 and $50. Tickets will be sold at the door, space permitting, and advance purchase is recommended. (727) 298-3322 or

Byrne, Strunk make artistic fashion statement in their medium at the Dunedin Fine Arts Center 08/13/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 4:30am]
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