Lacko Finds Redemption - "Chewie is my Co-Pilot!" A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away Alt-Pick artist John Lacko grew up on a steady diet of Star Wars action figures and sugary snacks. An only child and a latch key kid, he spent an inordinate amount of time setting things on fire and freezing his tiny Han Solo mini in a Dixie Cup of water to replicate the climactic scene where Harrison Ford's Rebel Alliance hero is placed in suspended animation in carbonite and turned over to the evil Bounty Hunter Boba Fett. "I can tell you that I absolutely wanted to BE Boba Fett - all my friends did - because he was the coolest..." Lacko recalls. He's still obsessed with all things Star Wars and jumped at  a chance to participate in "Stitch WARS," a group art exhibition at the Bear + Bird Gallery in South Florida opening Saturday July 18. Wired Magazine has called the event "a must-see exhibit," and Maxim Magazine's Lisa Freedman dubbed it "the ultimate nerd exhibit." Lacko takes it all in stride. He's content to argue that you either like Star Wars or you just don't get it. Graphic artist Amanda Magnetta established the Bear + Bird art space in her husband's Eisner Award nominated 6,000 square foot comic emporium as a haven for upcoming artists with a quirky vibe. "Stitch WARS" is an alliance of crafty rebel designers like Lacko who are so enraptured by the myriad characters of George Lucas' epic adventures they spent the better part of this summer crocheting, knitting, embroidering and sewing together goofy replicas of their galactic heroes. John Lacko's dimensional entry "Chewie is my Co-Pilot," is based on Chewbacca, the Wookie first mate of the Millenium Falcon, Han Solo's space cruiser first seen in "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope." The piece comprises an intricately embroidered and quilted felt Chewbacca in the traditional pose of Jesus of the Sacred Heart. This is the second hand-embroidered piece created for Bear + Bird  and far more labor intensive than anything Lacko has ever completed. "Embroidering a piece of this scale was WAY more than I bargained for. I created the design as a sketch, translated it to vector art in Adobe Illustrator and then carved the outline with an x-acto knife in colored felt. I pieced it together and secured it to a felt backdrop with adhesive and then hand stitch the entire piece in embroidery silk to create a raised effect to the outline. Once the stitching was complete, I built a wooden framework and stretched the felt around the sides and secured it to the backing with upholstery nails. The result is a 3D rendering of the character that really pops!" Stitch WARS opens to the public Saturday July 18 at 7pm and will be available through August 29. Bear + Bird Gallery is located at 4566 North University Drive in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. See more of the exhibit at the following links

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