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A Guest in Wonderland 

 With the opening of its next exhibition Jan. 17, The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art at Central Methodist University is inviting visitors to enter the wonderful, wacky and whimsical world represented in Fayette resident Peggy Guest's prodigious outpourings of art. Titled "A Guest in Wonderland: The Multi-Media Works of Peggy Guest," the exhibition Bear's Breeches, by Peggy Guestwill run through March 2. A reception for the artist will be held from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Jan. 22.

More than 60 works will be featured in the exhibition - a multi-media potpourri of art fashioned by the highly creative Guest, whose unbounded imagination transcends conventional approaches to the visual arts by leaps and bounds. In her collective works, horses have wings, bears and assorted bugs wear colorful clothing and medieval dragons puff curling wisps of smoke and float through the air with bemused expressions.

Guest's colorful art embodies the creative richness of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass," with L. Frank Baum's characterizations in "The Wizard of Oz" mixed in. It is art for all ages – bound to delight children and to bring out remembrances of youth in adults.

"It's going to be a magnificent show," said gallery curator Joe Geist. "Her imagination just doesn't stop - it's just wild!"

The panoply of Guest's art embraces pastels, colored pencil sketches, watercolors, pen and ink drawings and large, three-dimensional and sculptured pieces. Flowers are represented in one series of art works, and an anthropomorphic array of animal life in others.

Many drawings and paintings have satirical titles reflecting subject matter, such as "Foxglove," which features an impish red fox sneaking a peak of a foxglove plant from behind a tree; "Lady Slipper Orchids," a bright red pair of a girl's slippers surrounded by colorful orchids; and "Tiger Lilies," a series of Asian tigers prowling through a jungle of tree lilies. A four-panel work that starts with plants and animals and concludes with a characterization of CMU's new Student and Community Center aptly reflects the eclectic nature of Guest's art.

"Look long enough at my work," Guest says in her artist's statement, "and you'll see a story. If you take the time, and theBehold the Tortoise, by Peggy Guest chance, these characters will draw you into their world and make the trip worthwhile - a world... compliments of your own imagination."

As with "The Walrus and the Carpenter" poem in Lewis Carroll's classic "Through the Looking Glass," when viewing Guest's art, the time has come to talk of many things … "of shoes and ships/and sealing wax...of cabbages and kings/And why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings."

Guest, who holds a bachelor's degree in fine arts from Park College, has also studied art at the Kansas City Art Institute, University of Missouri-Columbia and Columbia College. She is well-known in Mid-Missouri, especially for her murals in public buildings, including an historical depiction of early Missouri history in the Howard County Courthouse, Ronald McDonald House Family Room mural in Boone Hospital in Columbia, and a newly completed mural which she donated for the children's wing of the Fayette Public Library.

Love in a Mist, by Peggy GuestGuest believes in sharing her art as a social responsibility: other donations of her work have gone to the Ronald McDonald House, University Hospital, in Columbia; University of Missouri-Columbia Museum of Art and Archeology; Fayette Area Public Trust (for fund raising); Howard County Fire District; and Animal Rescue Volunteers in Sims Valley, Calif.

Guest's reputation as a multi-media artist has brought her invitations from a number of institutions throughout the country to display her art. These include a show in Chicago in June at the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta; a show in the Lauritzen Botanic Gardens in Omaha, Neb.; the Steinhardt Gallery-Brooklyn Botanic Gardens in 2004; Powell Gardens in Kansas City in 2001; and previous exhibitions at CMU.