Bead Town exhibits roll into Northwest Indiana - December 30, 2013

Courtesy of the Times

Colorful beads from Mardi Gras necklaces have been reworked into dazzling pieces of art to go on display next week in Crown Point and Gary and soon in Valparaiso.

The exhibits by New Orleans self-taught artist Stephan Wanger are part of an ongoing effort by the Methodist Hospitals Foundation to raise funds for improving health care in Northwest Indiana.

Wanger’s Bead Town exhibits will feature dozens his works of art and opportunities for residents to design their own pieces in interactive workshops.

“We engaged (Wanger) to exhibit his Bead Town for the first time out of Louisiana so residents can experience it, and to raise money for the foundation,” said Robert Hanrahan, Methodist Hospitals Foundation executive director.

Exhibit openings are planned for next week to coincide with Twelfth Night, marking the end of the Christmas season and start of carnival season in New Orleans. Philanthropic works tied to Mardi Gras form the theme for the foundation’s fundraising efforts, Hanrahan said.

The main event is a Twelfth Night Celebration and countdown to Mardi Gras reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Monday at the Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts, 540 S. Lake St., Gary. The gallery will serve as Wanger’s hub and primary workshop.

A preview is planned from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Crown Point site for Bead Town Northwest Indiana, 214 S. Court St., formerly occupied by the Crown Point Community Library.

Details are being finalized for a site in Valparaiso, Hanrahan said.

The exhibits are expected to run Monday through Feb. 15.

Hanrahan said he met Wanger during a visit to New Orleans and was “stunned” when he saw his work.

Some of the works Wanger creates for Northwest Indiana will incorporate local recyclable materials, possibly including some steel-related.

Schoolchildren have been invited to take part in student workshops Monday through Feb. 13 at the Gary and Crown Point locations.

For more information about the events and workshops, call Maria Diaz at the Methodist Hospitals Foundation office at (219) 886-4468.