If you're going to put on an art exhibition celebrating cult films in notoriously "hip" Los Angeles, and you're going to do it at your gallery right next to Golden Apple Comics, which is like Nerd Nirvana, and you're going to invite celebrated cult directors like Kevin Smith, Edgar Wright, and Richard Kelly, well, you better know your stuff. You better be prepared to out geek any geek that wants to steal your thunder. You better be Jensen Karp.
"I'm the biggest nerd in the world," Karp, the co-owner and curator of Gallery 1988, told me during opening night of an art exhibition celebrating cult films. "You want proof? When we originally opened our name was going to be 'Anthony Michael Hallway.'" (Full article and photos of fantastic art after the jump!)
And there it is - you either get it or you don't, which, incidentally, is a lot like Karp's show. Forget "Madonna on the Rock" or "The Pieta," the only Jesus the hundreds of viewers show at this show was the one from "The Big Lebowski."
"The character of Jesus is such a big iconic character from film - he's probably the biggest icon of a show like this. And his name, of course, happens to be Jesus," artist Carlos Ramos told me in front of one of his paintings, a divinely inspired piece of work that showed John Turturro rising above an angelic host, beams of light emanating from his head and arms, holding a bowling ball. "I did a Biblical painting that would normally be Jesus Christ, but made it The Jesus. He deserves it."
Another painting, by an artist known simply as Misha, was a take-off of "The Last Supper," but with Mooby the Golden Calf at the center position, his disciples - all characters from the films of Kevin Smith - flanking him on either side.
With several paintings of Jay and Silent Bob, not to mention Smith's other work, the "Clerks" writer was by far the most cited inspiration, ("I'd paint that too if I knew the director was coming," Smith deadpanned.) but paintings honoring the New Jersey native were far from the only works on display. "Office Space," "The Professional," "Shaun of the Dead," "Donnie Darko," "A Christmas Story," and "Edward Scissorhands," were just a few of the flicks artists re-imagined in their own unique styles.
Here's Misha talking about how she drew inspiration for "Mooby's Last Supper:"
"I did a lot of listening to [Smith] talk, a lot of listening to podcasts, voiceovers from the actual films, stories," she said. "It's funny, because you're painting Ben Affleck's face and you're listening to a story about him, so there are a lot of little jokes within it, wink-winks. You've got Rufus [the 13th Disciple], who has finally made it to the supper where he belongs. Kinky Kelly and the Sexy Stud - he brought a date - Hooper X pinching Banky's butt, Dante and Randall, of course, overlooking Alyssa playing with her fingercuffs. Then Stan Lee. Stan Lee is God."
Stan Lee is God, or will be soon enough at any rate - when Gallery 1988 debuts its next show in January 2008, showcasing works inspired by the comics legend.
Smith, incidentally, bought Misha's piece...and 22 others.
To see over 40 photos from the event, click here.