October 02, 2008

CRAZY 4 CULT 2: OPENING NIGHT


Reality finally set in again when I arrived home to discover that lightning had struck my computer. Oh, wait, that should have been the last line of this post. Well, at least it explains why I've been silent for so many weeks, and why I'm wallowing in old news here. But I'm back on the grid now, and it's high time for some hardcore blogging...

As I mentioned in my last post, I had four pieces of colored pencil art in my first art show, Crazy 4 Cult: 2. The show was, to quote Wil Wheaton of all people, "Fuh. Nuh. Muh. Nul!" But I need to rewind a bit because the good times started 24 hours before the event.

One of the great side effects of my visit to Los Angeles was that I got to stay with my friend Henry whom I've known since preschool. This was my first chance to observe him in his Californian habitat, and I was delighted to discover that his house is like a living Shag painting...



He led me to wonderful pizza and we inevitably talked until an unhealthy hour of the night. Throughout the evening I had the distinct feeling that we were existing in the future we had pondered so many times during our youth. We sat there as heads of our own households, surrounded with miraculous technology, discussing our web based careers (he works for Google, but his building isn't the one with the slide or tiki bar). Amazingly, this future turned out just as we might have jokingly fantasized in high school. "...yeah Hen, someday you'll be living in a swank retro pad up on a hillside in LA, and I'll come out to visit when my work is in some art gallery."

His place was a pleasant jaunt from Ventura Boulevard, so the next morning I strolled on down, absentmindedly singing that one line about vampires from the Tom Petty song Free Fallin'. As I hoofed down the avenue, I recognized the Sheman Oaks Galleria Mall from Fast Times at Ridgemont High and I got a gander at Mel's Drive-in from American Graffitti fame...


That afternoon I had the pleasure of hanging out in the home of fellow contributing C4C artist and Mr. Toast creator, Dan Goodsell. I've been an admirer of his since the mid 1990s when he contributed to a vintage cereal zine called Freakie Magnet. It felt like some sort of life achievement to have somehow made it into his living room. Speaking of which, he and his wife surround themselves with some really fun stuff...

I immediately recognized "Birdopolis" from the early days of Dan's Imaginary World web site.

Yes, that's the very computer where it all happens!

The stuff on the left makes the stuff on the right.

As the evening crept up we ventured to Gallery 1988 where we encountered a line of hundreds of art admirers stretching down the sidewalk and out of sight. By the end of the evening the gallery would see a record 3,000 visitors.


This was my big chance to do like in the movies and stroll past the suckers standing in line and smugly announce my name to the bouncer who would smile and motion me through the door after checking his clipboard of destiny.
"Not on the list." turned out to be his exact words. I found consolation in the fact that Dan, a real artist, was absent from the list as well. But before things got ugly (like it does in the movies) we were vouched for by the kindly wife of Oldmanmusing's webmaster, Andrew Speers.

Two guys who made the evening even better: Dan Goodsell and Andrew "Savage" Speers

I stepped inside the muggy building and nearly bumped into Superbad's Jonah Hill, but before I could produce my camera Andrew pointed out Wil Wheaton who was attempting to exit the show with his wife. I annoyingly asked him if he would permit a snapshot and he graciously suggested that we forge our way back to a painting that featured him. I only wish my photography had turned out worthy of such a task...


With this, the show had already gone from zero to awesome. Nary a month prior I was grabbing the beloved Stand by Me from the Wal-Mart DVD shelf, and somehow here I had found myself chatting with former Gordie Lachance, the kid who pointed a gun a Kiefer Sutherland and survived leeches in his underpants.

After our Kodak moment Andrew, who seemed completely at home, stepped in and introduced me as the "family portraits" guy. (The fact that Wheaton was already willing to interrupt his exit for an anonymous schmoe with a camera reveals genuine super coolness.) This is when Wil said some wonderful things about the Griswolds piece and told me that he'd even tried to get there early to buy my Torrances piece, but both of them had already sold! This double whammy of info kicked me into a euphoric stupor. Not only did this mean that I could pay off my plane ticket, but with a single Wil Wheaton-uttered sentence this self-proclaimed "artist" can no longer be preceded by the word "amateur."


Locating my work in the gallery seemed like the next logical step. I spotted it across the room in a sweet position right next to the excellent handiwork of Scott Campbell. I squeezed in for a closer look and noticed a line of text printed on the respective title cards of my pieces— "Print set to be released on Crazy4cult.com soon!" I hadn't even permitted my mind to dream about the possibility of being picked for prints (only a handful of works are selected from each show) so this news left me absolutely stunned; literally, my face could not even produce a grin for a short time. Unbelievable. (And in case you're wondering, the prints should be available in 3-4 months. Believe me, I'll announce it here when they go up for sale.)

About that time, Andrew made another introduction; this time it was Plasticgod, an artist who's work I've enjoyed since I saw it at my first ever Comic Con. This was my one big artist-to-artist moment of the evening, in which he brought up how it's harder to recreate likenesses of lesser known celebrities. Most of his work is pop culture centric, like this lineup of Johnny Depp incarnations...

After calling my wife and reporting this series of thrills I calmed down and got a chance to settle in and soak up the atmosphere. Here's how it worked: the line came in through the front door and snaked around the gallery in a nearly fixed pattern...

(Note the banner that announced that Weird Al is going to be hosting next year!)

Then after patrons got their fill, they either went to the sales desk...

Gallery owner Jensen Karp (right) and his girlfriend Chrissy (middle) take care of business.

or they pushed through the exit and headed into Golden Apple Comics next door...


...where they wove through the aisles and made their way out the back door...


...which emptied into a parking lot where they sold drinks and projected old Japanese Sci-Fi films onto the wall...


After I stood by myself in that crowd for a while, I figured it was time to do some looking at art. (Oh, while I was out there someone approached me and asked if I was Lost writer, Damon Lindelof.) The majority of work was truly amazing, and if I would have had the cash these would have got my money...


Kiersten Essenpreis
"After the Fire"
One of my favorite movies and probably my fave piece of the whole show. I love how odd the subject is when taken out of context, and how it makes a really funny movie moment appear so sullen.


Camilla D'Errico
"The Little Dress Up Doll"
Just gorgeous. It sold quick.


Casey Weldon
"Zissou Route"
Great concept; I like it when art can almost automatically get a chuckle out of viewers.



Dennis Larkins
"The Nine Plans of Outer Space"
Really nice execution on this Ed Wood tribute. It's even more impressive in real life because it's made up of 3-D layers.

Brandon Bird
"I Am the Night"
This one caught me off guard in a great way.

So what else? Let's see. When you hang out at any party long enough Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy is bound to show up...


I've always enjoyed it when people lean in real tight while their picture is taken but as the shot turns out, there's actually tons of room left in the frame.

Anyway, things finally started winding down as the clock neared 10 PM which was about the time my pal Henry showed up having just got off work (Google, remember?). On our last lap of the show Jensen stopped me and revealed who bought what of my work...

Michael Rapaport will be able to place the Torrances on his fireplace mantel, and...


Jonah Hill is the new owner of the Griswolds!

I certainly think it's awesome that these Hollywood inspired works were enveloped by Hollywood. Suddenly I am like the toenail of a cultural beast that is eating itself.

So yeah, the experience was simply off-the-charts phenomenal; a surreal blessing beyond what I even dared to imagine a few months ago as I sweat over those waxy portraits, covered in pencil shavings, hunched in front of my screen door at four in the morning on a weeknight. Reality finally set in again when I arrived home to discover that lightning had struck my computer.


Being an artist, I make it a personal rule to only appear in black and white photos.


(If you'd like to see more of the show I recommend Oldmanmusing's teriffic coverage.)

Or here's a nice video piece from G4...

9 comments:

Todd Franklin said...

An amazing experience! Way to go and I can’t wait to see what pieces you create for next year!

Savage said...

Darn cool! Congrats! It was great to meet and hang with you. Look forward to seeing you and more of your work again. Thanks for the linkage!

The Vintage Reader said...

Wow!!! That looks like an amazing show. Glad your work did so well, too!!!

Anthony said...

all of this post is amazingly crazy. i also really like the pee wee piece. it seems so dark without context.

Kirk D. said...

todd- oh, man, next year. I can only pray they let me in again. I've got to meet Weird Al!

savage- thank YOU for hanging out. I was expecting lonely and awkward and you made it warm and fun. You were like the magic host of the night, always in the right place at the right time. It was a pleasure, and I hope our paths cross again.

Thanks Vintage Reader- Who'd of thought LA would be so kind after Tulsa chewed me up and spat me out.

anthony- You know, the inspiration for my pieces is actually that old family portrait that you bought from that sale. I hope you look at upon it daily with much delight.

Jamey Clayberg said...

YES. great post KD and congrats on the sale/inclusion/experience. Awesomeness.

Rozum said...

Congratulations, Kirk. That was a great report on opening night. It really captured all of your enthusiasm, and the excitement of making those art sales. I agree, the Pee-Wee piece s terrific. The image, combined with the title is truly enigmatic if you don't know the context.

Michael Duggan said...

Thanks, Kirk!

REALLY enjoyed this!

Happy to see you sell some art and have some fun rubbing elbow's with A-List Hollywooder's like Jonah Hill and Dan Goodsell. Thanks for sharing. Take care.

- Michael Duggan

Kirk D. said...

thank you, thank you J.C. and rozum. Yeah now I'm officially spoiled as far as art shows go.

michael- you bet, glad you enjoyed it!
So are you the Michael Duggan who played a doctor in Superman Returns?