When visitors walk into the Englers’ Sewickley Heights home, they will find lots of skulls and “high-spirited and sensual” women, even in the bathrooms.
That’s the way Cindy Engler likes it.
She plans to take some of those decorative skulls and painted women — whom she said have “an undeniable sense of style” — to “hang around” Sewickley in the former Travelwares site, 429 Broad St., on Saturday and Sunday and star in her “Fashion to Passion 3” pop-up art show from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
Most of the women have come from Engler’s imagination, along with a brush dipped in various colors of oil paint.
Although the skulls are real, they come from rams, deer or other animals and are decorated with smashed glass to create a mosaic art piece or melted wax to create an encaustic craft.
The show, which will feature 30 pieces, is called “Fashion to Passion 3” because Engler, 62, has had two other pop-up solo shows — the first in February last year at the Crane Building in the Strip District, and the second at the Sewickley Fall Gallery Walk and Music Fest.
To create the skull art work, Engler orders them over the Internet, or her husband, Rich, finds them in the yard, such as one from a small deer with a broken horn.
She then buys and paints sheets of safety glass. Rich, her self-appointed manager, then takes a hammer and smashes the glass to bits. Engler picks up each individual piece with tweezers and glues them onto the skulls to create a mosaic.
“It’s meditative to me. I can get into the zone and do it for hours,” she said. “It’s time-consuming, but it’s worth it.”
At times, she also will use copper leaf on the horns of the animals and decorates with cut mirror, leather, paint, silver leaf or turquoise.
She learned the technique, which involves painting with hot wax and carving in designs, after attending an adult art camp with a friend in Aspen, Colo., for the past three summers.
At times, she uses the technique on her paintings — painting, then carving into the paint to give it depth, she said.
Engler said normally she will paint or make a piece and then sell it, but at times she gets commissioned work such as the head of a buffalo a man shot while he was in Africa which she made into a mosaic piece for him.
Engler has been painting for seven years and said she thinks her studies in fashion illustration at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and her 21 years as a fashion and photographic model have influenced her work.
When she painted, “You Make Me Quiver,” featuring women with bows and arrows, she was told it was the right time because of the popularity of the movie, “The Hunger Games,” but she said she didn’t even realize it.
“Armed and Dangerous,” featuring three girls carrying hunting rifles, recently was displayed at Allegheny Land Trust’s fifth annual Bounty in the BarN fundraiser.
Some of the girls in the paintings also are musicians, said Engler, who used to play the accordion. In a piece she is working on now of a group of musicians, one of the girls in the background will be playing the saxophone because Engler said she likes the sensual shape of the instrument.
“It goes with the curves in my the painting. The girls are all curvy,” she said.
The backgrounds of the large paintings come from Engler’s imagination, she said, or from something she has seen. Many are beach and ocean scenes. “Hat Attack” features herself and a friend at the beach. Donning sunglasses and cowboy hats, they have their arms crossed over their knees which are pulled up to their chests.
She also gets some of her ideas for shapes and poses from magazine ads she constantly cuts out and saves.
Engler, who grew up in Bedford, decided she wanted to come back to her art about 10 years ago after her children were grown. Her daughter, Ashley, 36, of Colorado, has two boys, ages 6 and 2. Her son, Dylan, 34, lives in Ohio, is a glass artist and has an 8-month-old daughter. Some of his pieces are displayed in the Engler home.
Engler took art classes from Tom Mosser when he had a studio in Sewickley and has a copy of the first painting she did with his help, “Show Me Money.” She said she occasionally still paints with him in his studio in Lawrenceville, and also paints with local artist David Noble at her own studio.
She said her goal would be to see her paintings displayed in funky scenes in a trendy restaurant or nightclub in the Caribbean.