Spooks on the loose… in Los Angeles!

Opening on September 3rd and running until September 22nd, 2010, Gallery1988 in Los Angeles (in conjunction with The Autumn Society of Philadelphia) will be home to an exhibit of original artwork inspired by the classic 80s era sci-fi/fantasy/horror comedies GREMLINS (1984), GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) and THE GOONIES (1985).  Now at the quarter century mark, these one-time box office hits and pop culture milestones have trickled into the American collective consciousness, where “Who you gonna call?” and “Goonies never say die!” have become the modern equivalents of “Follow the yellow brick road” and “As God is my witness, tomorrow is another day. ”  Even though the merciless Southern California sun has burnished me throughout these summer months a deep raw umber, you can color me excited!

I’ll be perfectly honest here.  I was drifting into my mid-20s when the first of these movies came out.  Although I queued up to see all of them (though I think I caught THE GOONIES on video cassette rather than in the cinema), I was not really part of the target audience.  I was at that age a freshly minted college graduate, bound (eventually) for New York City and diving with blind abandon into the wealth of foreign and independent American films that were the stock-in-trade of that wonderful New Haven art house the York Square Cinema.  Occasionally I ventured, usually at the prodding and in the company of friends, to the local multiplex off I-95 in Orange and that’s where I saw these particular popcorn munchers.  I liked them well enough but they were to me a mere moment’s entertainment, the equivalent of a meatball sub and a can of Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry Soda.  I liked GREMLINS the best, found GHOSTBUSTERS to be amusing but scattershot (nonetheless I saw it more than once – movies were 0nly a buck or two back then, cheaper on week nights), and I was borderline annoyed by THE GOONIES‘ nonstop cacophony of juvenile loudness.  All of this to say, then, that I was more than a little taken aback (aback to the future!) by how happy the poster on the left made me feel when I found it online last week.  Artist Tom Whalen foregrounds my least favorite of the three movies with the centered likeness of THE GOONIES‘ pinheaded Sloth Fratelli (played under all that latex by the late John Matuszak) and yet… and yet… it made me smile.  I suppose my reaction might best be likened to the wave of affection you feel when looking at an old family photo that wasn’t especially flattering to you at the time but which preserves a moment you’d rather not have lost to the passage of time.

Although all of the pieces that have been entered into the upcoming show at Gallery1988 are by professional fine and graphic artists, they represent the best kind of fan art, the perfect blend of adoration and acuity.  Fan-based art at its worst strives only to recreate something in one medium that was excellent originally in another; I find a lot of fan art to be stiff, awkward, and airless.  The interpretive works collected in the 3G show are a the tonic to pulseless homage, opening up the imagery, making it bigger here, more personal there, playing with the perspective and the colors in the way that urban myth trickles through the culture to serve as a celebration of our oral tradition.  These pieces by Tom Whalen, Glen Brogan (top), Brandon Schaefer, Erick Braddock, Andy Ristaino (above), Kim Herbst, Scott Derby, Ian Glaubinger, Oliver Akuin (below, left) and others are like cave paintings thrown up on the wall so that future generations can see what we saw and know what we knew.  And yet despite their origins in pop culture, these works also perform the key function of higher art – they elevate us, inspire us, and return to us the raw materials of dreams… and nightmares!

Gallery1988 co-founder and curator Jensen Karp offers his insights on the philosophy behind the 3G show:

In the past, artists may have been inspired by the “masters” or taught in art school to only utilize Picasso, Matisse or Rothko as inspiration, but we’re dealing with a new generation of artists: a group largely influenced by pop culture. Films like GREMLINS, GHOSTBUSTERS and THE GOONIES live in such an important place of our childhoods, and hearts.  Seeing creative pieces inspired by these films has been such an incredible experience. Movies like these are works of art in themselves, so its not a shock that they each double as such strong inspiration for these artists – and we’re so honored to house the exhibit.

Yeah, what he said!  Artist Tom Whelan offers his own perspective:

The 3 movies that inspired this show are excellent examples of what made the 1980s so magical for the kids of my generation. Just the right blend of comedy/sci-fi/horror, fantastic creature effects, and inspired original stories are all blended expertly in these films. It was such a thrill to be able to re-visit GHOSTBUSTERS, THE GOONIES and GREMLINS and bring a cherished piece of my childhood into my current work.

I also got in touch with GREMLINS director Joe Dante, who had this to say about the impending tribute:

It’s amazing to me that 25 years after the fact, Gremlins is still inspiring (if that’s the word) people to comment on it. I guess there was something about the mid-80s, or  maybe it’s just cyclical. We were invoking the 50s then, today it’s the 80s. Go figure.

September 3rd is my birthday, so I’ll be making a trip to The 3G Show opening as my own present to myself.



6 Responses Spooks on the loose… in Los Angeles!
Posted By dukeroberts : August 27, 2010 11:34 am

Too bad it’s in New York and not in Jacksonville. I would definitely go see it. We are semi-obsessed by pop culture these days, so it makes sense that it would be reflected in our art. I recently went to see an exhibit of painted portraits of jazz artists and an exhibit of photographs of Marilyn Monroe and art inspired by her. I saw these two exhibits on the same day at two separate museums. If this art can be appreciated by those who do not know of the great works, if people can be drawn in by popular art such as these types of exhibits, it may inspire some to look further back to appreciate the masters. That may be a stretch, but this type of art could serve as a gateway for some who would otherwise have no interest in art. I welcome that.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 27, 2010 11:34 am

Too bad it’s in New York and not in Jacksonville. I would definitely go see it. We are semi-obsessed by pop culture these days, so it makes sense that it would be reflected in our art. I recently went to see an exhibit of painted portraits of jazz artists and an exhibit of photographs of Marilyn Monroe and art inspired by her. I saw these two exhibits on the same day at two separate museums. If this art can be appreciated by those who do not know of the great works, if people can be drawn in by popular art such as these types of exhibits, it may inspire some to look further back to appreciate the masters. That may be a stretch, but this type of art could serve as a gateway for some who would otherwise have no interest in art. I welcome that.

Posted By rhsmith : August 27, 2010 1:07 pm

I actually don’t think it’s a stretch at all. An early interest in monster and horror movies was my gateway to an appreciation of classical music, poetry, literature, fine art, architecture, history – you name it. Horror movies have it all; or at least they used to. Not so much anymore.

I think you took that last image too literally – the exhibit is in Los Angeles. That wonderful NYTA design is just one of the brilliant works featured in the 3G show. I really can’t wait to see it.

Posted By rhsmith : August 27, 2010 1:07 pm

I actually don’t think it’s a stretch at all. An early interest in monster and horror movies was my gateway to an appreciation of classical music, poetry, literature, fine art, architecture, history – you name it. Horror movies have it all; or at least they used to. Not so much anymore.

I think you took that last image too literally – the exhibit is in Los Angeles. That wonderful NYTA design is just one of the brilliant works featured in the 3G show. I really can’t wait to see it.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 28, 2010 12:48 am

Ah. Los Angeles. Even further away.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 28, 2010 12:48 am

Ah. Los Angeles. Even further away.

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