Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Garbage Pale Kids at G1988

There are few staples of American culture more celebrated and cherished than these small pieces of card stock which so cuttingly parody our own foibles. I refer to of course, the Garbage Pale Kids.

Topps and The Hundreds teamed up with Gallery 1988 (the world's #1 destinations for pop culture art) to bring together 100 of your favorite artists to create some new "Kids". I was honored to be invited to take part. I give you my submissions into this show: Ingrown Tony and Butter Side Don.

You can see all of the resulting artwork Friday September 2nd at Gallery 1988 (Melrose). More surprises and information about the show is still to come!! Stay tuned.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Weirdos in Love

Crazy 4 Cult 5 at Gallery 1988 (Melrose)

Raise your hand if you are tired of the cynical, jaded attitudes that seem to have taken over and wiped out all but the touchiest, feeliest dolphin huggers of the world! In the pop culture world at least, it seams like it's just not cool to actually love anything or anyone. Ironic love of Members Only jackets and Phil Collins, yes. But I think a lot of folks now have a hard time coming out and saying they are really into something or someone. I guess that is too risky. We love songs about people who torch a car to spite an ex-lover. But when it comes to stories about people who love each other where things turn out just fine, people don't want to hear about it.

Seriously?! What exactly do we all have to be so bitter about? I say anyone who thinks it's unsophisticated, unrealistic, or immature to love life and be optimistic for the future is missing out on life itself.

-End Rant-

For this year's Crazy 4 Cult at Gallery 1988 I painted a series of small pieces I'm calling Weirdos in Love. These are four pieces are inspired by some of my favorite films: Harold and Maude, Wild at Heart, Napoleon Dynamite, and Better Off Dead.

I love the characters in these films because by the end of the story they grow up a little (or a lot) and decide to give love and life a real chance.

I hope these paintings can help make love and passion cool again! ....I guess we'll see.

Go And Love Some More
Water color and ink on Claybord, 5"x7"

You Got Me Hotter Than Georgia Asphalt
Water color and ink on Claybord, 5"x7"

There's More Where This Came From
Water color and ink on Claybord, 5"x7"

Language Lessons
Water color and ink on Claybord, 5"x7"

The 5th piece in this series is a bit larger and will part of I Know You Are But What Am I? The Pee wee Herman tribute show at Gallery 1988's Venice location.

Opening reception: Friday July 8, 7-11pm (show is up through July 30, 2011)
7020 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038,

Friday, June 10, 2011

Shaping America's Lexicon One Painting at a Time

Help me invent new words! Here's the story:

While growing up, films like The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Vacation, She's Having a Baby, Sixteen Candles, and especially Ferris Bueller's Day Off were a huge influence on me. They helped shape my expectations about life and my teen years. I think the humor and insight in every John Hughes film is timeless. Last March Gallery 1988 paid tribute to the Master of 80's flicks with a group show called The Road to Shermer. I was honored to be a part of it!

So how does an artist come up with concepts for a show like this? Well, it's just about presenting your own ideas, memories, and sense of humor on the subject matter. One thing that always struck me about John's films was the fashions. The styles seemed amplified a bit beyond real-world fashions. I think the clothes really helped convey the characters and make them larger than life. And for me, it all seemed to culminate in their hats. I went with my first thought, which was to paint a catalog page of all the memorable hats from Hughes' films.

Hats By Hughes, Acrylic on wood panel, 15"x20"

Cameron Frye's "bestie"

After this piece was completed, the idea that a newsboy style hat (like the one worn by Alan Ruck in Ferris Bueller's Day Off) is actually called a "bestie" stuck with me. I started calling my own newsboys "besties" and maybe its a testament to my ego but I decided other people should call them besties too.

So I wrote a definition and submitted it to I love the idea of John Hughes films, the show at Gallery 1988, and my own painting all coming together to make this new meaning of the word stick! If you love Mr. Hughes, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, cool hats, maybe even my artwork, please take a second to click this link and give the definition a thumbs up!

Urban Dictionary: bestie

Then try to use the word in a sentence every day. Perfect!

-Ben Walker

P.S. The Road to Shermer received an amazing amount of press! So now my "Hats" piece has been featured all over, including Vogue Italy's website. Bello!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Camp Firewood

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of
Wet Hot American Summer

Friday, June 10th, Gallery 1988: Venice will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of an event that changed my life; The release of the film, Wet Hot American Summer. How did it Change my life, you ask? Well, after seeing this film I began steering all conversations toward this movie.

"Oh your cat has bird flu? Dang that's a shame. You know what else is a shame? The fact that you haven't seen Wet Hot American Summer!"

So I was thrilled when G1988 asked me to be part of their group show commemorating 10 years of this film's existence. I painted this piece depicting my favorite moment in the picture, the climactic end to a chase scene when camp councilor Victor Kulak jumps over a single hay bale.

Jeez, I had a series of images sketched out but I ended up devoting the rest of my time to creating a set of wooden signs directing you to Camp Firewood or Town. It was a fun change of pace. Turning plywood into an aged and cracked sign almost felt sculptural. and yes, I own a dremel and love it. Apparently I'm also really into working with text and titles right now because I keep adding it to all artwork. This sign is the first project I've done that's just about type and icons rather than characters and such.

I give full credit to my girlfriend Amanda for the idea of making a sign. And we were both so psyched on how well it turned out that we decided to put together a little photo-shoot inspired by the film. Here are best pics from the day.

Camp Firewood opens Friday, June 10th from 7-10pm (on display through June 29, 2011)
Hosted by the film's director & Co-Writer: David Wain!

Gallery 1988 (Venice)
214 Pier Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405