How do you cut a bowling ball in half?

Jace Laakso holds it down on a table and goes to work with a hacksaw, turning the ball until he’s cut all the way through.

How do you cut the plastic off the outside of a wooden bowling pin?

Well, for that one Laakso started with the hacksaw then used scissors to cut away bits and pieces until he’d bared the wood-grain interior.

Why do any of this?

For a bowling-themed art show, of course.

Laakso has always been interested in bowling balls, buying up dozens at garage sales over the years. He cuts them and stamps metal onto them to make three-dimensional sculptures.

“The form has always fascinated me,” Laakso said. “It’s round, it’s kind of planetary, it’s like mother earth.”

His interest waned recently, but there were still about a dozen bowling balls at his house, just waiting to be turned into art.

So he started asking other Missoula artists if they’d be interested in putting their own spin on the bowling-ball medium. As more got involved, bowling pins were thrown in, and Bowl-A-Rama was born.

"Bowl-A-Rama" opens at the Zootown Arts Community Center on Friday, July 13, and features around 30 bowling ball or bowling pin pieces by 30 different Missoula artists.

“We have everything from Sasquatch and clowns to hand-painted with acrylic paint to mixed-media sculptures,” program director Patricia Thornton said.

The works delight and amaze, totally irreverent and wildly creative.

Bev Gleuckert made the Sasquatch using pieces of fur and wire for arms, so he can be posed.

David Wilson painted one like a Greek urn, but with Mexican luchadors wrestling on the sides.

Betsey Head sculpted a “Kangasaurus” – a combination kangaroo/dinosaur – around one pin.

Jennifer Leutzinger covered a ball in Dubble Bubble wrappers and filled the finger holes with chewed gum.

Laakso had two pieces, one made from a pin, the other from a ball. “Ziggy the Spider from Mars” is a space-age copper, brass and bowling ball sculpture made from the aforementioned cut-in-half ball with metal fins. It even rotates.

“You’re ready to have a ball with this one,” Steve Gleuckert cracked while giving “Ziggy” a twirl.

Gleuckert’s piece, “Bowling Pin Heart Beat,” features a cut-in-half pin, with mirrored insides and a hammer striking a heart.

“It’s a challenging thing,” he said, holding a pin, “when someone says ‘hey, do something with this.’”

After the second Friday opening, Thornton said there will be a bowling party at Westside Lanes (who donated the pins).

"Bowl-A-Rama" will be up for three weeks, and a silent auction will run through that time, with proceeds going toward ZACC student scholarships and College of Visual & Performing Arts scholarships.

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Arts and entertainment

arts reporter for the Missoulian.