Pop! Pop!

Weezy Guadalupe by Chase Heard

Pop! Pop! Art Exhibit

By Michael Hamersly

Pop culture and art have been intertwined since the ’50s and early ’60s, when whimsical works by Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein and Warhol helped shatter the elitist – some say snobbish – viewpoints long espoused by the art community. Everyone is now familiar with the kitschy images of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis, Campbell’s Soup cans, comic books and iconic rock ‘n’ roll album covers, which suddenly were forced to be taken seriously, to the chagrin of countless critics schooled on the classics. Doesn’t stand up to Rembrandt, Van Gogh or Monet? That’s not art!

On Saturday night, more than 30 local, national and globally renowned artists will continue this modern ethic by showing new, original works inspired by pop culture at the opening of Pop! Pop! – an exhibit running through the end of July at Fort Lauderdale’s designer toy store-slash-mini gallery PinkGhost.

Fittingly, the night will feel more like an indie-style party at a hipster nightclub (minus the booze), with cool, ironic tunes blasting, artsy types strolling about and free sweet treats circulating courtesy of Buddha Belly Cupcakes. But the evening’s focus won’t stray from the art, which promises to be eclectic.

“It’s such a wide range,” says Alex van Clief, a local photographic artist who is curating her first exhibit. “We’ve got art covering things from fairy tales to the TV show Lost to the band The Flaming Lips. It’s really nice. We even have stuff from the show The Golden Girls – a painter sent us four portraits of the lovely ladies, with the edges of each picture colored gold.”

Betty White probably won’t be at the exhibit (darn!), but you can see compelling works by Dan F. Birch, Patrick Fatica, Helena Garcia, Justin Rose and many more. Other topics covered (skewered?) include a four-foot abstract of Little Red Riding Hood and five-inch pieces depicting teen-scream idols the Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana.

Participating artists – some were contacted by Van Clief out of the blue after she saw their works online, and others have had an ongoing relationship with the organizers – didn’t always find it easy to adhere to the exhibit’s decidedly broad requirement: to create a new work that clearly makes some sort of comment on pop culture.

“We had some pieces that were on the borderline,” says Van Clief, “and we said, ‘Well, what do you mean? Why is this pop culture? This is a zebra.’.”

Other pieces that made the cut – all are available for purchase, from $18 to $1,800 -include a unique take on Mother Mary with the face of rapper Lil Wayne. Then there are the small drawings of the villains from Masters of the Universe, the He-Man guys.

Van Clief, who has a BFA in photography from Syracuse University and will soon pursue a master’s degree, got into art through her father, who “does everything – wood carving and drawing and watercolor, but his primary focus is oil painting.” His depiction of Frodo and Sam from The Lord of the Rings is part of the show.

“Obviously it sounds completely like nepotism,” saysVan Clief, “but it’s not. He’s really talented. It’s funny, because he has these very formal oil paintings, and then these two hobbits.”

Van Clief stops short of giving her father full credit for her artist’s eye, pointing out: “My brother is a lawyer and has absolutely no interest in art. But he prides himself on his stick figures.”

Pop! Pop! Art exhibit opening reception, 7 – 10 p.m. Saturday, June 20, PinkGhost, 21 W. Las Olas Blvd., Ste. B, Fort Lauderdale; 954-616-1403 or www.pinkghost.net.
Details: Free; runs through July.



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