A unique art show runs August 19 through 22 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in San Diego featuring 25 artists renown in tiki and lowbrow/pop surrealism circles Heather Watts, Tim Biskup, DEVO’s Mark Mothersbaugh, Isabel Samarasa, Crazy Al Evans, Claudette Barjoud aka Miss Fluff, Ken Ruzic/Little Lost Tiki, Derek Yaniger, Jason Rodgers and Mia Rodgers, and Ken Ruzic/Little Lost Tiki who’ve created works using plaster casts of women’s torsos — including burlesque artists and tiki aficionados as their inspiration and canvases — to raise awareness in the alt/underground scene about breast cancer prevention and detection.

Artist: Erin Joy – castee: Baby Doe

The gallery show, which is free and open to the public, is part of Tiki Oasis the largest, longest running gathering celebrating exotica and tiki culture. The plaster casts are available for sale and benefit the Keep A Breast Foundation.

Tiki Oasis co-founder Baby Doe von Stroheim curated this show which was a year in the planning. A burlesque performer and choreographer who created the Tease-a-Rama burlesque fest, Baby Doe met the Keep A Breast team at a Burlesque Hall of Fame event in Las Vegas. She explains the connection:

Burlesque is about women embracing themselves and their bodies. My mom was 20-year breast cancer survivor, so I felt very close to anything having to do with breast cancer. My mom had full mastectomy and a vibrant life. She instilled in me embracing your femaleness and the female form, being unafraid to take care of yourself. When it came to breast cancer awareness I didn’t relate to pink ribbons, but I did to Keep A Breast.

Plaster casting art works are part of San Diego-based Keep A Breast Foundation’s outreach program. The award-winning organization focuses on breast cancer awareness and education for those under 40; breast cancer that age group is much more aggressive and the rates are increasing. Keep A Breast worked to get the Early Act passed as part of health care reform, and is active in campaigning for the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010.  . . .

Artist: Mark Mothersbaugh – Castee: Amber Ray:

With their alternative culture vibe and presence at not-so-mainstream events, Keep A Breast is reaching a target audience that is under-insured, feels invincible and is open to the message of self-empowerment. Keep A Breast makes a point to let guys know that they too can get breast cancer, reminding them

You’re man enough to check your breasts!

as well as spreading their message

I *heart* Boobies

and a slogan that reflects their support of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010.

Glamour Kills

Definitely edgier than a pink ribbon, Keep A Breast is currently on a 242 day nationwide tour that includes booths at Warped Tour stops and gallery shows like that at Tiki Oasis.

Baby Doe began the Tiki Oasis project by casting a dozen women from Tiki Oasis using Keep A Breast’s plaster bandage wrap method, then approached artists in the lowbrow and pop surrealism scene, asking if they would be interested in participating, then adding other women’s casts from Keep A Breast’s portfolio as artist interest exploded.

Artist: Tim Biskup – Castee: Little Brooklyn:

The artists represented are not only traditional painters but also artists working in other mediums like sculptor Crazy Al Evans who is best known for his tiki idols. The plaster forms inspired the artists to experiment with a variety of styles and techniques–along with painting directly on the casts, they created pieces decorated with painted velvet, collaged with glass, and there’s even one casting which is now a motorized, working sculpture. On Saturday August 21 from 1 to 2:30, there’s a free artists and castees reception with live music and photo booth for posing with creators and their inspirations.

In the past 18 months two of my friends died from breast cancer; they were both under 40 when diagnosed. I have other women friends and family members whom were diagnosed with breast cancer, some when under 40 as well, so this subject hits home. And so does the method of delivering the message. It’s bold, sexy and unexpected, revering the feminine, empowering through knowledge, and tapping into the underground river of alternative culture to cause change to occur.