Review: Exhibit Translates Screen Icons to Canvas

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

A Japanese schoolgirl, a slick sword-wielding blonde and a bathrobe-wearing deadbeat were among hundreds inside a hot and cramped Chelsea gallery, wearing outfits inspired by directors Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers.

Spoke Art, a San Francisco-based transient art gallery, held the opening night of their “Quentin vs. Coen” art show in two small rooms at the Bold Hype Gallery in Chelsea on April 7. Hundreds of eager fans waited in a line that spilled into the streets to see the director-themed art show, where one had to push through crowds to simply walk around the gallery.

Directors Exhibit

Most original artwork showcased was sold during the show

The exhibit was open for three days and featured work from more than 100 artists in a variety of media, from oil and ink to fabric, including a Gogo Yubari-inspired spiked yarn flail from “Kill Bill” and a felt captive bolt pistol from “No Country for Old Men.”

The exhibit played songs from various Tarantino and Coen brothers soundtracks and served free “Lebowski”-themed White Russians. The bartender’s tip jar referenced Mr. Pink’s rant against tipping from Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs,” of which Mr. Blue responded, “You know what these chicks make? They make shit.”

Costumes were suggested for the event, although only a few attendees dressed up in character. Among those was a man dressed as pedophilic bowler Jesus from “The Big Lebowski” in all purple with a do-rag and bowling ball.

The crowd was very responsive and most of the original artwork sold at the show.

The majority of the work in the show was inspired by Tarantino’s films, including, “Pulp Fiction,” “Reservoir Dogs” and “Kill Bill.” One religious-inspired painting depicted “Pulp Fiction”’s Fabienne as a solemn, wide-eyed saint holding a plate of the syrup-drenched blueberry pancakes she craves in the film.

The Coen brothers-inspired artwork followed the same pattern, mostly focusing on their films “The Big Lebowski,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and “Fargo.”

The Coen section’s most original piece was a glass-encased life-size silicon toe, complete with nail polish and hair, inspired by Bunny Lebowski’s severed

This was Spoke Art’s first installment of their pop-culture themed “versus” series, pitting two stylistically similar directors and allowing viewers to choose favorites. On their website Spoke Art said, “We’d love to do future shows on [Jean-Pierre] Jeunet and [Marc] Caro, Larry David, and Stanley Kubrick.”

Spoke Art has hosted other director-themed shows, including “Bad Dads,” a tribute to director Wes Anderson, in San Francisco.

Both Tarantino and the Coen brothers have distinct styles, violence galore, and actors who tend to appear in each directors’ films.

Four Greg Gossel portraits of an enraged Jules from “Pulp Fiction” and a perplexed Dude were placed alongside each other as the gallery’s focal point. The blue-hued silkscreen paintings included newsprint, paint and comic book motifs.

Tarantino definitely won the show’s “battle” in terms of presence and preference among attendees.

Artist Gwendolyn preferred Tarantino. “I gravitate towards his imagery. There are many Western elements, which I like,” she said. Her “Kill Bill”-inspired oil painting “Pussy Wagon” depicted the obnoxious yellow truck Beatrix Kiddo stole with red “blood” splatters across the canvass.

Gallery attendees Peter Vega and Patrick Pawloski both chose Tarantino as well. “Tarantino’s a film buff and so are we. His style is very consistent, while the Coen brothers are all around.”

Dave Perillo, however, artist of “The Dude Abides,” a graphic print with chronological stills, chose otherwise. “I’ve never not liked a Coen brothers film, but that’s not the same case for Tarantino,” he said. “He writes his women’s dialogue like a guy. I don’t buy the idea of the women in ‘Death Proof’ talking about obscure 1970s car movies.”

Not all attendees could choose a favorite between the two. Author Michele Carlo referenced both directors’ violent-natured films with her final decision.

Rather then choosing a favorite, she said “Bring back [MTV’s] ‘Celebrity Death Match’ and let the claymation decide.”