At the Little Stars show, parent shows her children “Peter Pan” plush art by Wendy Crabb.
This past Saturday I enjoyed fantasy art hopping between two galleries only five minutes apart. I had work of my own in one of them. Little Stars, a show inspired by J. M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” at Cella Gallery in North Hollywood, opened at 2:00 pm and ran till 5:00. The gallery had art hanging but was also made into a beautiful play area for kids, with little tables set up for coloring Wendy Crabb’s Peter Pan-themed sketches (the sketches were copied onto white paper for kids to color however they liked) and a large dress-up tent suspended from the ceiling and filled with costumes, the tent also handmade by Wendy Crabb. Behind the coloring tables was another table with cookies and cupcakes, storybooks, and a small screejn with different Peter Pan movies running continuously. It was the most kid-friendly gallery opening I’d ever seen, and it was feel-like-a-kid-again eye candy for adults as well.
A Captain Hook marionette puppet handmade by Daniel Saks for Little Stars.
The hanging art was not your run-of-the-mill either. In addition to the handmade tent, two large handmade marionette puppets by Daniel Saks (my husband) were hung to look as if they were flying. During the week, Daniel is a set designer for the CBS comedy “How I Met Your Mother.” Outside of his regular work, he is a builder of all things fantasy—Frankenstein laboratory machinery (some of which will appear in a sculpture show at Copro Gallery next month), sets of all kinds for theater productions, and fantasy masks and sculptures. (At Son of Monsterpalooza in Burbank this past October, his Dr. Pretorius mask received a generous contest prize.) Puppetmaking is a relatively new venture for him, and the success of the Little Stars show will likely inspire him to make more.
The walls featured art by all four participants: Wendy Crabb, Johanna Wright, Daniel Saks, and myself. Wendy Crabb’s pieces included paintings, handmade Indian-style arrows that attached to the wall with magnets, and beautifully sewn plush portraits of Peter Pan characters. Johanna Wright, a children’s book writer and illustrator from Portland known for books such as “Bandits” and “The Secret Circus,” contributed numerous charming paintings, many Pan-themed (among them London at night, the Lost Boys’ tree house, Captain Hook’s pirate ship, and a friendly-looking mermaid--but don’t be fooled by her friendliness!). Daniel contributed two elegant drawings of a ship’s figurehead. My paintings and drawings, as usual, explored the darker side of the show’s theme. (Ever wonder what Hook’s crocodile would look like if X-rayed to reveal Hook’s hand and the ticking clock? What might Captain Hook’s complete hook collection look like, and how would a croc’s jawbone look as a display case?)
At Little Stars, a wall of paintings and children’s books by Johanna Wright.
After the opening of Little Stars, I had a sumptuous celebratory dinner at Ca’ del Sole (deadlines for two shows behind me—whew!), then arrived at about 7:30 at Halloween Town to find a line two blocks long of people getting rained on in their blackest finery, patiently waiting to get into the crowded Classic Monsters show. When people are willing to wait in the rain, you know it’s got to be for something good…and the artwork in this show was just jaw-dropping. Who doesn’t grin with wary admiration at the classic horror characters like Dracula, Frankenstein and his Bride, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, and Mr. Hyde, especially when they’re painted, drawn, and sculpted by some of the most talented hands in the world of horror art? Rick Baker, the Oscar-winning makeup artist whose credits include “An American Werewolf in London,” “The Howling,” “Ghost Story,” “Men in Black,” “The Frighteners,” “Ed Wood,” and “Hellboy,” had paintings in this show that demonstrated what a truly skilled artist a good makeup artist really is. Renowned sculptor Mike Hill, who has done work for companies such as the Franklin Mint, Sideshow Toys, DC Comics, and Tussauds Waxworks, contributed life-size Frankenstein and Bride figures so real-looking that viewers did double-takes to be sure they weren’t looking at human models. In addition to the stunning photorealistic work by these horror-industry professionals were unique takes on the classics by fine artists and illustrators known for their distinctive scary styles. The show has strong dual appeal because it has both characters and artists that legions of horror fans want to see. (Photography was not allowed at the Parlour Gallery and there is no “sneak preview” of the show images on Halloween Town’s Web site, so I played it safe and didn’t include any of their images here.)
“The Eternal Reenactment of the Shooting Deaths of Lillian and Frank” (oil on wood), one of my paintings for Odditorium Detroit.
Odditorium Detroit was held at District VII Gallery in the Rivertown district of Detroit, Michigan, November 30 and December 1. (I was fortunate enough to be represented at Odditorium Detroit by four of my paintings and a variety of T-shirts that I make for my company, The Mighty Squirm.) Kristine Diven and Micho Detronik are the curators of a vast space (97 by 37 feet, with three stories) and since 2010 have been hosting large shows that combine 2D and 3D art, technology, science, and performance art. I pored over the numerous photographs and videos posted by District VII before, during, and after the two-night event, wishing I could have been there with my artwork and trying to form a complete mental picture of it. Odditorium was described as “an Art and Entertainment event of natural and unnatural disproportions,” showing “the odd, the freakish, the unexplainable...where Ripley’s meets Twilight Zone, and nature and science meet denial and disbelief.” If you can imagine mad doctors and scientists, circus freak shows, and taxidermists all combining their resources to create an environment for fine art and performance art, you’ll have an idea of what this show looked like to me from the photos and videos District VII posted. Performances and speakers included Dabls of Mbad's African Bead Museum, speaking on "voodoo and other ancient healing practices"; Adina Gamal and Detroit Shimmy performing "Queen of the Damned"; and Abida Blaze performing “Rituals.” Featured artists and collectors included Mark Arminski, Bethany Shorb, Dustin White, and Shaun Strak. The popularity of the show, which was attended by hundreds, has already ignited a decision by District VII to plan another Odditorium for the near future.
Little Stars is running through Dec. 15 at Cella Gallery, 11135 Weddington Street, Suite 112, North Hollywood 91601. For more details, visit http://cellagallery.com. Classic Monsters is running through Dec. 30 at Halloween Town’s Parlour Gallery, 2921 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank 91505. Visit http://www.halloweentownstore.com for more details. Odditorium Detroit ran for two nights (Nov. 30 and Dec. 1) and a sequel show has already been proposed. To learn more and see photos and videos, visit http://districtvii.com.