Gallery 1988 has released a second book of art from their wildly popular, annual Crazy 4 Cult exhibition. The gallery, which has two locations on Melrose Ave – 7201 (East) and 7308 (West) – has been the home of pop culture-inspired art since its opening in 2004.
In the introduction to Cult Movie Art 2, gallery co-founder Jensen Karp (a former rapper) explains that he and partner Katie Cromwell wanted to find affordable art that appealed to their demographic and interests, but could never find any in actual galleries to buy.
The Crazy 4 Cult exhibit, which features art inspired specifically by cult favorite movies, was co-created with Scott Mosier and Kevin Smith, who host the celebrity-packed shows.
The current collection, Crazy 4 Cult: Say Hi to the Bad Guy runs at G1988 West until November 9th. I stopped by the tiny gallery recently to check it out (see photos – and interview with Jensen Karp – after the jump). The eye-popping colors of most of this kind of art made a nice contrast with the spotless white gallery interior. There was also an impressive amount of prints for sale in the back of the gallery. If you’re flipping through them, make sure you look at the backs of each board as there are prints on both sides.
While the art features bad guys at the show – one popular one is Pris from Bladerunner – the book’s art includes heroes, lesser characters and collages of characters or scenes from different movies. Turning through the pages was a fun experience that reminded me of movies I haven’t seen or thought about since I was a kid, like Monster Squad! It also reminded me that I still need to see some common favorites, like Strange Brew.
After checking out the book and exhibit, I got the chance to ask Jensen Karp some questions about the gallery:
LA Beat: In the book’s introduction, you write that G1988 was the only pop culture gallery that existed, when it opened in 2004. Is that hyperbole or do you know this was true? Why do you think no one had come up with this idea before, especially in a place like Hollywood?
Karp: No, that’s definitely true. We know this for many reasons, one of them being how much we were made fun of. We searched high and low for someone to relate to, and just no one had committed to it. Some people would have a show here and there, but no one just made the decision to make that their focus until we came along. I think people just had too strict of traditional preconceptions on what an “art gallery” was, even in the epicenter of pop culture. It was either wine and cheese and pompous price tags, or nothing at all. We sort of thought that was bullshit and wanted to try what interested us. So we made that decision and were willing to live or die with it. Luckily, ten years later, it worked out.
When did you open G1988 West? Why just a few blocks down the same street?
We opened G1988 West about 6 months ago now. We have had other locations in the past and San Francisco and Venice, but the truth is, most of our attention has always been on Melrose, which is where we started 10 years ago. We’ve become well known on the block, so we wanted more presence here and the ability to run two shows at once within walking distance of each other. So we decided to it, and since we opened it’s been great. We can also work with more studios and properties this way, like our past shows with Breaking Bad and LOST.
How do you decide which exhibits go up in which gallery? Is there a theme for each one?
It’s really just a timing and size thing about which show goes to which gallery. The smaller shows would end up at East, just because it’s smaller space, and larger group shows usually end up at West. Our shows don’t ALWAYS have themes, but there’s usually always a through line.
Who are your current favorite artists? All-time favorite artists?
Right now I’m really into a few artists we’re constantly showing like Mark Englert, Anthony Petrie, Justin White, Mike Mitchell, Scott C, Alex Pardee, Ian Glaubinger and Cuddly Rigor Mortis. As far as our Hall of Fame over the past ten years it would be Luke Chueh, Olly Moss, Greg Simkins and Audrey Kawasaki.
Do you have a favorite movie that artists tend to reference in these Crazy 4 Cult shows?
Well, my favorites are the ones that no one ever references, like The Burbs, Dragnet, Nothing Bout Trouble and Clue, but from the ones we see consistently, I like seeing Repo Man and any Coen Bros movie.
Here are some of my favorites from the book:
1. N.C. Winters’s “Descent Into Madness” (book cover above, from The Shining)
2. Mark Englert’s “You Are My Lucky Star” (The Alien floating in space)
3. Fernando Reza’s “Time Trials” (various characters that travel in time. I had to Google to figure out why the Ninja Turtles are in it but apparently there’s a video game.)
4. Monkey Ink Design’s “Never Say Die” (a nice portrait of The Goonies)
5. Shannon Bonatakis’s “As the World Falls Down” (a doll-like version of Sarah from Labyrinth)
6. Patrick Awa’s “You Are So Cool, You Are So Cool, You Are So Cool” (distorted perspective of Patricia Arquette driving Christian Slater, from True Romance)
7. Famous When Dead’s “Uncle Rico’s Time Machine” (close up of it, from Napoleon Dynamite)
8. Meghan Stratman’s “We Are Sex Bob-Omb” (cut paper collage of drummer from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World)
Album image via Titan Books website