Painted birds

Falling Ladies

Models Sydney Simas, left, and Houog Thai sit under one of Jim Zlokovich and Lillian Hartung’s “Fallen Ladies” paintings.

Models Sydney Simas, left, and Houog Thai sit under one of Jim Zlokovich and Lillian Hartung’s “Fallen Ladies” paintings.

Photo By David Robert

With the aid of 15 nude women and also painting help from 18-year-old artist Lillian Hartung, Jim Zlokovich’s paintbrush reaped 14 colorful creations that will be auctioned off at a catered event featuring live music on Feb. 23. The event will raise funds for a recovery home called Launching Pad.

Falling Ladies was organized by artist Jim Zlokovich, former shop owner Denise Rush and Doug Sandall, who’s on the board of Launching Pad.

The project grew out of what was originally a whim of Rush’s to fall nude into a canvas covered in paint. As wacky and sexy as this sounds, the idea quickly became a serious endeavor.

Launching Pad is a halfway house in Sparks for women recovering from alcohol or drug abuse. Founder/director, Barbara Pierson is a recovering alcoholic/addict herself and rents rooms for less than $200 per month. Random sobriety checks and 12-step adherence are strongly encouraged.

John L. Ascuaga is on the board of Launching Pad, as is Doug Sandall.

“The reason I lend support to this program is that they charge to live there, nothing’s free,” says Sandall.

Models like Inge Gerber offered their nude bodies, wearing only tones of acrylic paint for the project. Gerber and her husband are both in the medical field and talked about being at Burning Man and the freedom of nudity there. The ladies, he said, were relaxed about the situation, “There were lots of laughs.”

Denise Rush sent the women to model for him, to which Zlokovich laughingly explains, “Yeah, and they were warned about me!”

“I was a gentleman, a doctor with a paint brush. There were lots of laughs, and the lady models brought their husbands, boyfriends and one had her family there while we painted,” says Zlokovich, who himself is a recovering alcoholic and has had a couple years of involvement with Studio On 4th.

The paintings are bright and colorful works of art.

Zlokovich says he is thankful to owner Mike Steedman, who has donated the use of the Studio on 4th space for Falling Ladies. Zlokovich was also adamant about expressing his thanks to Denise Rush for sending the naked ladies his way. Service to the community, that’s what it’s all about, right, Jim?

Eighty percent of painting sales from the silent auction will benefit Launching Pad, and the evening event will feature a hosted bar and hors d’oeuvres, beginning at 5 p.m., Feb. 23 at Studio on 4th. Each painting will have a reserve of $100. A $10 entry fee includes live music by local musicians C.C. Gable, Sturdy Beggars and the Greater Christian Ministry Band & Choir serving up, respectively, jazz, English folk/rock and gospel music.