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Two worlds collide: Kris Starry, 'INVI' Vilonna collaborate in mixed-media exhibit

Artist Justin "INVI" Vilonna creates zombielike characters, monsters, saints, priests and superheroes from spray paint, Sharpies and ink.

Photographer Kris Starry captures images of women, many of them body-painted and tattooed local artists, crafters, musicians or burlesque dancers, in photo sessions that involve hairstylists, makeup artists and wine.

Three years ago, their two worlds collided, resulting in an ongoing collection of collaborative mixed-media artworks that will be on exhibit Saturday, Nov. 24, through Dec. 1 at Green Room in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Vilonna and Starry met at Art Nouveau, the West Palm Beach art party where both regularly exhibited. "I immediately loved his work," Starry says. "I asked him if he bartered and he's like, 'Well, where's your table?'

After trading works, Vilonna and Starry discussed future collaborations. "I always wanted to do my artwork on top of photography, and Kris had these really cool tattooed girls and landscapes that were awesome," Vilonna says.

Unfortunately, as Starry later explained to him, some of her framed photos had been exposed to moisture and were stuck to the glass. Among them was one of her favorites from the steampunk collection. Vilonna offered a potential solution.

Starry gave him the damaged print and he incorporated his own art and returned it as a steam-punk-meets-zombie mixed-media artwork. Starry loved it and gave him a similarly damaged photo of Stitch Rock founder Amanda Linton biting into a cupcake.

"It ended up being a zombie eating a cupcake," Starry marvels. "He changed the cupcake into a brain or something by adding his very creepy cool illustration to it."

Starry continues giving him photos, some damaged, some not. Vilonna sprays each with a layer of clear, soft white or soft black paint to create an effect he compares to a Photoshop filter.

"It's not the INVI show, so I try to make sure her beautiful models and landscapes are still there," he explains. Once that's done, he works atop that layer with illustrations and sometimes poetry or lyrics.

Their collection soon included: a priest with red eyeballs and a tattooed fire dancer in his belly; a local artist bathing in bubbles just inside the wide open mouth of a yellow-faced zombie; and a red-haired, tattooed model with a one-eyed, polka-dotted horned octopus in the palm of her hand.

The Green Room opening will include fire dancers, a vampire performance by Onyx Star, music by Killmama, DJ sets by Andie Sweetswirl, and a print for the first 30 guests.

"We're each showing our own work downstairs," Starry says. "And then upstairs will be strictly our collaborations."

Colleen Dougher operates the South Florida arts blog Arterpillar.

If you go

What: Kris Starry and INVI Collab Party

When: Opens 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, and runs through Dec. 1

Where: Green Room, 109 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale

Cost: $5

Contact: 954-449-1030,

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