Sunday, June 29, 2008

Creepy Peepers!

Today I decided to do a post about some fabulously creepy paintings. The thing that ties these particular paintings together is the element of the "malevolent stare". I would imagine painting something that creates an aura of fear without being totally corny would be quite difficult. These are fun but also just a bit scary.

This one is the quintessential "creepy painting", Henry Fuseli's "The Nightmare" (this is one of several versions).

While the swooning lady is wonderfully overwrought, the sheer terribleness of the squatting homunculous thing (Who incidentally has the same repugnant look on his face as this old woman on the bus I take into work who gets bent out of shape when anyone tries to sit next to her) and that messed up horse complete the gothic spectacle.

Then we have Henri Rousseau's "The Snake Charmer"...this painting impressed itself upon my childhood brain as many of Rousseau's paintings did...this one is unnerving because of the unnatural darkness of the character in the sunlight. That element along with the magical weirdness of the snakes (why is she calling them?) and forest created an palatably sinister aura (and it always made me think of a sasquatch, frankly).

What's hard to see in this image is the white eyes set into an almost featureless face...


This is a painting of our old pal, "Lucifer" by Franz Von Stuck. I find this image to be particularly unsettling because I'll have nightmares occasionally in which I sudden happen across some malicious demon creature peering at me intently and it often looks similar to this. I like this concept of "the devil" because it's much more frightening than some little red goat dude with a pitchfork. THIS guy looks formidable and evil.

And finally, we have "Calm Sea" by Arnold Bocklin. This one is great because it has that sassy red-headed mermaid rolling seductively around a rock, which is nice until you notice her underwater companion! Not as attractive as his lady friend. Once again- creepy staring!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Roq La Rue is Ten!!

image by Femke Hiemstra

Way back in 1998 I opened Roq La Rue. I can't believe it's been ten years. It seems both like yesterday that I opened and then at the same time is seems like forever ago. Back in the "olden days" I think there were like 5 galleries that regularly showed work like this- not there are zillions. It's quite amazing. Back then I knew the Lowbrow genre was special- but I don't think any one thought for sure it'd be the juggernaught it is today.
I'm having a special anniversary show to celebrate- then I'm closed for a month to do some gallery remodeling and have a freakin' vacation!

Roq la Rue's Tenth Anniversary Show
Featuring: Mark Ryden, Marion Peck, Femke Hiemstra, Brian Despain, Travis Louie, Scott Musgrove, Lisa Petrucci, Shag, Liz McGrath, Andrew Hem, Glenn Barr, John Brophy, Viktor Safonkin, Anthony Pontius, Tin, Kay Tuttle, Ronald Kurniawan, Chris Crites, Johnny Bergeron, Mia Araujo, Mike Leavitt, Gabe Marquez...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Juxtapoz Museum Show/ Todd Schorr

I've been interviewed many times and I always get asked the same questions- mostly "what got you into this style of art?", meaning Lowbrow/Pop Surrealism. I always mention how I was turned on to it by picking up Juxtapoz magazine. For many years the magazine was almost indescribably important to me, and many other dealers, artists, and art fans. The magazine has changed it's format over the last few years, and while I hear its financially doing better than ever, it has left behind the elements that made it so important for so many people back in the "good old days". Change is inevitable, but it's still a little sad for people like me, because we no longer feel it's "our" magazine, in the way we used to. I suppose it has importance to a younger, more street art oriented group now. Anyway- a museum exhibition based on that "Juxtapoz aesthetic" that you probably already know about opened in Laguna Museum the other day, and frankly, it looks fantastic. I was planning on going but obviously I had other more pressing matters to attend to. I'm sorry I missed it! Jamie at Supertouch was the editor at Jux for 10 years, and he has a good photo recap on his site. One of the stars of the show (besides Ryden's "Creatrix"),the giant mouthwatering Todd Schorr ode to King Kong. I think Todd is one of the greatest of the Pop Surrealist artists, no question. If I ever win the lottery, first order of business is getting a huge Schorr painting.

oh muh gawd.

Dinosaurs and giant apes, two great tastes that taste great together. Put your art snobbery aside and just give into the awesome.

images by Sketchypad's Flickr, yoinked off Supertouch

Monday, June 23, 2008

Darren Waterston Part 2

I've blogged before about one of my very favorite painters, Darren Waterston. Today I got a notice that he has a bunch of watercolors available at Greg Kucera Gallery in order to raise some dough to fund the creation of a "cycle of 26 large paintings about St. Francis, titled "Bay of Weepers" for a proposed museum exhibition." If you've thought about picking up a Waterston now is a good time, there are some fantastic pieces in the new series. A couple are a little too "pretty" for my tastes, but most have what I call a "beautiful-rotting-jungle-in-the-moonlight" vibe that Waterston is a master of.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hating the Game, and Maybe the Playa Too

Jamie over at Supertouch blog has a very, very interesting blog about an huge "art show" happening in LA. The gist being that the "artist" followed the careers of mega hype magnets such as Banksy and then decided to be an artist himself. Is it parody or is it not very good art? Is the art world so screwed that this guy REALLY just made half a mil? I have to say mostly I was impressed with what Jamie wrote, I have a soft spot for anyone who calls bullshit on stuff, especially the amorphous world of art economics.
Check it out and feel free to let me know what you think!

From the show. By the way- the other thing I hate as much as car commercials are "Pop Art Marilyns". I hate them so much I almost get a headache just thinking about it. Not even Leonard Nimoy can save it.

Friday, June 20, 2008


I always hate it when blogs I like don't update regularly. Like this one. However- I just wanted to check in and say I have not abandoned this blog- I've just spent a week in Victoria BC with my family, as my grandmother just died. Margot Hanington was so, so dear to all of us, in addition to being the matriarch of the family, and we are all stunned and full of sorrow at her sudden death. She hung on after her heart essentially exploded, just enough for us all to rally lightning speed from all over the globe to say our tearful goodbyes (I blubbered like a baby at her bedside, a fact I'm slightly sad about because I know she would have wanted to comfort me and was not able to- but then again, I'm glad because I got to say the things I really wanted her to know, and that is much more important).
She then went out without a fuss- exactly as she would have wanted. The frailty of life, the love of family, and the hope of new adventures once one makes that final exit has my brain in a bit of a spin. I'll update this blog soon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Zallinger's "Age of Reptiles" Mural

If you were a nerdly, dinosaur-crazed child in the 70's odds are you remember this:

This is an image of the world famous "Age Of Reptiles" mural painted by Rudolf Zallinger for the Peabody Museum in the 1940's. Looking at it now, the creatures, although still totally majestic (and well, awesome), look oddly stilted. That vintage T Rex looks mighty stumpy. At the time though, this was the top of the line conceptualization of dinosaurs.
Here's a pic of more of the mural:

"In April 1942, before beginning on the actual mural, Zallinger undertook 6 months of studies with Yale and Harvard scientists, and then 18 months of preliminary art work. Zallinger painted The Age of Reptiles mural from 1943 to 1947. For this magnificent achievement he received a Pulitzer Award for Painting in 1949."

Even though we have more realistic, souped up versions of dinosaurs these days, it's easy to see the magic these murals contained, igniting wonder about the prehistoric world in a million young squirming minds. You can see what an updated, more scientifically correct mural would look like now. (While cool "art wise" I have to say I prefer the look Zallinger's! The colors on the new one make me think of an extreme sports drink.)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Chris Reccardi/Chris Crites Show

Chris Reccardi "Ravenswood"

I have a big show coming up with LA artist/animator Chris Reccardi, and Seattle painter Chris Crites this Friday , partly why I've been incommunicado lately. I have a little stack of neat stuff to post the meantime here is a little sneak peek from the new shows.

Chris Crites "Uzi"

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ted Zourntos

Sloan Fine Art has a show with Ted Zourntos. This show- all in black and white- features abstract paintings that are a mix of oil, enamel, acrylic and silicone. I think they are ultra fantastic, and love the images they evoke in my brain almost Mandelbrot style.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bethany Marchman

I just love this sweet little painting by Bethany Marchman, entitled "Stitches". I like that it has a sort of "Bride of Frankenstein" feel. I also like it because it makes me think about my sister who had brain surgery and took it all in remarkable stride, joking that her giant stitched incision made her look "like a moccassin".

Ray Caesar

I have to admit I hadn't been keeping up too much with what digital artist (which seems like such a simplistic way to describe someone with such an exceptional talent and vision) Ray Caesar had been up to- but just saw this breathtaking image on the flyer for the upcoming Hi Fructose Group Show at Copro Nason.