The movie sank like a corpse on The Sopranos. Still, the game -- created in 1949 -- is as big as ever. And despite the DOA screen version, its conceptual possibilities are far from bankrupt. A living, breathing Clue game is the theme of artist Robyn Nichols' twentieth anniversary show November 22 at the Pearl Gallery.
"I tend to do theatrical openings," Nichols says, "and when I came up with 'Let's do a game,' I at first wanted to play poker. I had never played Clue. Once I did, I was sold."
Nichols is known more on the coasts than in Kansas City, where she has stayed since her days at the Art Institute. "It's so easy to live here," she says, "and only a three-hour flight to San Francisco or New York." Nichols works with metals, making everything from tableware to jewelry ("but not rings," she says). When officials at the University of Missouri-Kansas City needed an "academic mace and medallion" to honor an incoming chancellor, they commissioned Nichols.
"I didn't even know what a mace was," she says, referring to the ornamental staff that dignitaries carry during processions. "But once it was explained to me, I came up with one that is 57 inches long."
The fact that Nichols works for companies such as Hallmark and Birch Telecom doesn't mean her work is necessarily sweet or sterile. On the invitation to the Clue event, the model posing as Miss Scarlett bares more than cleavage. One nipple is covered by a metallic adornment Nichols calls an "essential -- because it's covering her essentials, I guess."
To animate Clue for the purposes of a lively party, Nichols has enlisted creative cronies like artist Peregrine Honig to play the characters. Nichols crafted the game's weapons in her trademark style, and she plans to sell most of them.
"We've got the candlestick, the revolver and the knife," Nichols says. "Instead of the rope, I've made a leather whip. For the wrench, I've embellished an old rusty one." She admits to creating new weapons as well, but she's coy about naming them.
"The show is twofold," Nichols says. "It's a themed show, and it's a business move. I'm enhancing the weapons because I'm about creating beauty."