Bryant Phelan of O'Faolain Leather. Photo by Stepanie Parsley

Pyramid purse by Bryant Phelan

Bryant Phelan describes his leather handbags and belts that he designs for his luxurious O’Faolain line as wearable art. Indeed, Phelan’s products make Gucci and Louis Vuitton and Chanel bags look dowdy; they are masterpieces of design and construction.

Which is why the Thea Foundation chose Phelan as the featured artist for its The Art Department exhibition, “Artcessories,” opening May 3. The Art Department’s quarterly shows focus on singular Arkansas talents, including Joshua Asante (photographs), Katherine Rutter (drawings of fantastical beasts) and Sandra Sell (sculpture), just to name a few.

In his blog, Phelan writes that he struggled at first to decide what to exhibit at Thea. “I know that there are many periods of art that inspire individuals and I want everyone to have a great experience at my show,” he says in the blog. So he decided to make bags for the show that o would refer to “iconic art periods (i.e. Egyptian, Greek, Renaissance, Art Deco, Surrealism, Pop Art and Minimalism to name a few).” On exhibit will be diverse styles, from clutches to backpacks, Thea says in its press release about the show, and all will be available for purchase. Phelan will be on hand to talk about the “artcessessories.”

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Tickets are $20 and cover heavy hors d’oeuvres and an open beer and wine bar. Flyway Brewing is donating the beer. The show will run through May 31.