events reviews

Crazy 4 Cult: New York

The sixth annual Crazy 4 Cult group show opened this past week; the big change is that this time around it is in New York. There is a new lineup of artists with a good mix of new and returning favorites. Looking around the net there are stories of the long lines, people camping out to see the show, and an overall amazing night of art and cult movie entertainment. Just a handful of the artists that graced the show this year are Aaron Jasinksi, Allison Sommers, Casey Weldon, Cate Rangel, Chris B Murray, Dabs Myla, Fred Harper, Jason Edmiston, Lora Zombie, Sam Wolfe Connelly, and Travis Louie.

After six installments of this show, there is some level of predictability in the art. Movies like the Goonies, Willy Wonka, Big Lebowski, Edward Scissorhands, Shaun of the Dead, Princess Bride, and Ghostbusters for example, will be a large portion of the art shown. There are so many amazing cult movies that have rarely if ever been represented at these shows. I for one would like to see some more classic horror movies, but would be just as happy if the artists delved into the massive pool of cult movies out there and just tried something new. I was actually surprised to see some pieces inspired by movies like The Burbs, The Thing, Videodrome, Zombi 2, and an excellent Suspiria painting by Michael Ramstead (shown below).

Back in 2007, Gallery 1988 hosted I am 8-Bit for the third and final time. These group shows were legendary, and helped to launch the careers of many artists we see out there today. The group show was assembled again at another venue, but it didn’t have the same feel the first three had. Whatever the full details of the decision to not show at 1988 again was, I remember reading that it might not be the best choice to keep going with the series, as the shows could lose the impact the first ones had, and the work might become repetitive which is a possibility with many themed shows. I think it was a great decision, and those first three I am 8-Bit shows are looked back on fondly by many people. Looking at the work in this latest Crazy 4 Cult exhibition there is some outstanding work, but it does feel as though the impact has lessened. Much like a cult movie franchise that keeps churning out movies, it seems the first three are always the ones people enjoy the most. Sometimes even though you may think there is more to say, maybe it’s best to stop at a certain point; much like I am 8-Bit did. Take a look at the images below, and then head on over to the website for the full show. Crazy 4 Cult: New York

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  • Reply
    Aug 15, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I’m glad you said your piece about group shows outliving their….vitalness maybe?

    I think they’re fun. I wish I’ve been able to attend more and the work made for them is often incredible, but I see these pop subjects as sometimes the natural environment for some artists(Dave MacDowell comes to mind) and to see artists that normally wouldn’t go there is interesting, but almost waters down the impact of it for artists that truly want to do that kind of work. I also think it’s a great entry for artists into art viewing publics eyes, and an awesome way to make contacts with other artists…but…I think there are so many now that it is getting repetitive and predictable, and perhaps becoming a distraction for participating artists. Would they do new and better work if not consistently participating in these types of group shows? I’m sure it’s not a problem for some but I’ve always wondered.

    I’m a novice and don’t claim to be especially perceptive about these things, but I’ve still spent some time wondering about them.

  • Reply
    Aug 16, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Excellent points. I think that is a good topic to think about. Theme shows do have some positives, as you stated. Networking, exposure, fun, and being able to see an artist you like reinterpret a specific idea. I think that point is especially powerful when its an artist that rarely does themed work, or pop culture influenced work.

    However, what does happen when an artist is participating in too many themed shows. It stands that that artist might create some amazing work, but in the long run create quite a lot of work that is linked in style, rather than the true voice or message that artist wants to get out. For example, Glenn Barr makes some amazing pop culture related works, but I enjoy his personal work a bit more. I also think he has a good balance of pop culture works, and personal. Most of his solo show as of late are all personal works, with maybe a smattering of pop culture references inside.

    I also wonder about the longevity of these types of pop culture and themed works. Being an art history nerd this is something I often think about. I know not everyone has plans for their art to last as long as possible, but Its fun to think about someone looking at contemporary art 50 years from now and not understanding the pop culture references, and needing a short description of why we liked it.

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