Jelly fish belly painting at the Mesa Contemporary Arts Sound in the Ground

It's called SOUND intheground and it is an event that has to be experienced to be able to be understood. It is self described as "Sound in the Ground is 4x a year event that features music, fashion, cooking demos, performance art, spoken word, hands on activities, free snacks, a cash bar and whatever else we can think of to enhance your experience of the fab art exhibits that are showing at Mesa Contemporary Arts." I had met one of the event organizers at last year's Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival and she asked if I would be interested in being a part of this project. I told her that I would be thrilled and the rest is history. Each event has a theme and on Thursday, March 29th, 2007 the theme was Jelly/Belly. The inspiration for the theme began with a large scale 3-dimensional installation by artist Gwyneth Scally that featured a 20' painting on the wall as a backdrop to resin and cloth jellyfish suspended from the ceiling. This display was very intriguing and was the keystone of the event. Also booked for the event was a troupe of belly dancers. From there the theme spiraled out of control to incorporate as many things 'jelly' or 'belly' as possible. Someone must of mentioned belly painting and suddenly I was in like Flint!

In keeping with the theme, I planned on painting two pregnant models with jellyfish bellies. Unfortunately the first model had to cancel, but fortunately I found a volunteer to have her belly painted. She wasn't pregnant so her belly was flat, but it still qualified as a belly painting. She mentioned that she was a pieces so I opted to add a pair of fish around this jellyfish painting. Here are two images of her painted. The first is with Scally's jellyfish display and the second is in front of another art peice made up of onion skins. Click on each picture to enlarge the image.

Pieces and jelly fish belly painting for art gallery Pieces and jelly fish belly painting for art gallery

Next up was my pregnant model. There was no doubt that she was showing and in fact she was just days away from her due date. She was very patient as I painted this jellyfish and thankfully she didn't go into labor before we had a chance to take the following pictures.

Jelly belly pregnant painting at Mesa Arts Center Jelly Fish belly pregnant painting at Mesa Arts Center Jelly belly pregnant painting at Mesa Arts Center

After these paintings and photoshoots, I took a moment to check out some of the acts which included Attack of the Giant Squid, Tucson Puppet Works, Rocketline, and Djentrification. Of course I also took in some of the wonderful snacks which obviously included jelly beans. With plenty of time to spare before the event came to a close, I had the pleasure of painting one more volunteer belly from amongst the event attendees. I kept the ocean theme up but no jellyfish in this one, just a tranquil sunset with a ship silloughted on the high seas. Here is one shot of this painting.

Volunteer belly painting of a ship silohuetted against the sunset sky

A Photographer from Phoenix NewTimes was on hand taking pictures. Here below is a shot of one of my painted bellies and another shot of me painting another belly. The tag lines for these images were "THAT'S A WHOLE LOTTA BELLY, BABY!" and "THIS DUDE LOVES HIS JOB." More images from the event can be found on-line at

Jelly Belly Painting from NewTimes Mark Greenawalt painting a belly in Mesa

There was also a nice quarter page image of me painting in the April 5th issue of College Times magazine. Here is that photo, shot by photographer Ryan A Ruiz.

College times photograph of belly painting

Sound in the Ground has a myspace page with even more images of their events at


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Unless noted otherwise, Photography and Artwork by Mark Greenawalt c2007

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