Think Tank Gallery Presents: Dude, Monsters! – A Group Show (2012) became the first show of ours that got any real press, because of that gained the Think Tank its first massive audience, and largely defined our image from that point out. Curated by the talented Luke Pelletier in his first of two collaborative shows with us, it became my first exhibit rocking the straight-up director role.
Tasked with pulling together a list Luke selected of over 20 artists, to which I added a handful that I curated myself, Dude, Monsters! became an eclectic show full of illustrators, conceptual artists, video artists, sculptors, painters, street, and skate artists. The show's title was born of the idea that social misfits of all kinds have long divided off into subgroups outside of their communities, but that with the advent of the internet, zines, true street art, and alternative art spaces, these at times differing communities can now come together to create a new type of community. Our artist list couldn't have fit this theme any better.
The now-Cali-loved muralist Nosego had his first show in LA, Brandon "Monk" Muñoz created his most impressive installation to date ("dripping" halfpipe, above), Luke curated his first Cali show, Kaleb Higgins opened his series of hundreds of stencil portraits of LA citizens, and Jimbo Phillips and Michael Sieben graced our space with their historic work. Aside from the nearly impossible task of creating a 17-layer, 242-piece installation for my artwork (below), and handling the responsibility of hundreds of kids skating in the gallery with beer, my largest roles were managing the marketing campaign for the show and tying together the show concept and those of each individual bringing his own social "monster" onto our walls both in hanging and in pulling out a press release from such a diverse basis of creativity. I also created the stupid tagline at the front of the gallery that everyone took pictures in front of (above).
While we didn't work with any corporate sponsors for this exhibit, I definitely had to work multiple "brands" of diverse artists into one production and as cohesive a message as I could. To do this, and to provide a large base of content from which to pull for our marketing, I collaborated with Think Tankers Neema and Lonnie to produce a series of four artist spotlight videos highlighting Dude, Monsters! talent, as well as a recap video of the opening night.
Hitting Tumblr's Radar, Vans' blog, Fecal Face and more, the spotlight series did a good job of creating a light mood for the show while tying in a diverse and often intense and exciting pool of talent under the umbrella of the show idea. Shot brilliantly by Neema with minimal distraction, and edited to perfect comedic timing by Lonnie, the idea of the show got across without the need to say it in so many words, and our biggest party up until that point owed all of its success to this skilled duo.
Selecting interviewees and coordinating schedules, manning cameras, assistance in directing, interviewing talent, designing title plates and cover images were among my tasks for this campaign. We also put together an interview-based zine to fit Luke's idea, including a print spotlight of every artist in the show, given away for free at the opening. The complete series of five videos, released a week apart from one another through the show's opening (and advertising our closing party) can be seen below:
The most exciting installation work in Dude, Monsters! was definitely Monk's surreal half-pipe, with which I helped a bit in terms of layout and experience design (you can see its creation in the recap video below). The work of the impressive list of artists that Luke selected to cover the walls was the main draw, but because it was a group show for which I was selected to participate and it was seeing some decent coverage, I wanted to make sure that I put together a work of art that captured the "monsters" theme and also made a physical impact.
Working with 242 records, I conceptualized a basic American flag shape with red, silver, and blue-painted vinyls painted over with a 17-layer stencil portrait of Michael Jackson. To stay on point with the show concept, the portrait faded from left to right so that only a silhouette remained. Referencing the American child molester as the worst type of monster by public perception, and the media's outcasting of Jackson, the most famous human on the planet at the time, as the culprit of such abuse, the piece exhibits the joys of his stardom fading.
A team of five helped me through six sleepless nights of painting and hanging the work, still installing as doors opened. DJ Nina Tarr spun vinyl in front of the work for the duration of the opening reception. You can see more photos above and some of the creation and installation process in the video recap below: