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A regular at Stranger Factory group shows, Jason Limon is one of my favourite discoveries of the last couple years(yes, everyone else discovered him first. STILL.). He’s a really wonderful person, so I was happy that he could take some time to chat about his show opening at Stranger Factory next Friday. Jason is one of the shining stars of this scene – he’s super friendly and engaging, massively talented, and Brad and I also agree that he’s good looking.

1. You’ve been collaborating with DrilOne on some 3-D pieces lately, and we’re totally delighted at how well your styles mesh together. How did the start of the collaborations come about? Can we expect to see more of those fantastic rusty Limon-ey pieces for this show? 

LIMON: I met Dril at Gallery 1988 in San Francisco late 2009. I had a group show there which he came out to and we were able to hang out a bit. We had communicated on and off since then, but last year he asked me if I wanted to work with him and the guys at Dragatomi at their SDCC booth. So we started to plan out some collaborative dimensional pieces. I had collaborated on a few (two-dimensional) paintings with other artists but never in 3D form. So I was a bit nervous but excited about it at the same time.

Together we decided that I’d send him one of my “Ollie’s” to work on. I shipped off a blank and a few weeks later he sent some progress shots of what he was doing with it. Once I received the piece back and saw it in person I was blown away and eager to finish it off with a little more sculpting and painting. We were both real happy with the end result on that one figure and talked about doing more.

For this show I really felt the urge to paint on panels so I didn’t get to do much in the ways of 3D with him. I did mail Dril a box of my blank resin figures a few months back. He has shared some teaser pics of what he’s done with them and they are looking amazing!

CP: Look at these gorgeous Dril customs of Limon’s resins! Aaaaa…I can’t wait until next Friday.

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limonrust

2. These giant(and gorgeous!) eyes you’ve been painting and sculpting have been becoming more prominent in your work over the past year, and they seem to be out in full force for this show. Tell us more about them!

LIMON: Yes, I’ve been making lots of eyeballs for this batch of paintings. For the past few years I’ve been telling a story with my images about how plant life overwhelms the planet and makes a shift within all other living beings. The vegetation starts to infect and change the population in order to balance things out. For this show, I was thinking of an end to the story. At the end, human life no longer exists yet there are so many new species and creatures that have grown from us and all other living things. Since there are no longer people around to see these things I imagined a way where all these eyes could be there in this time to show us.

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LIMON: One of the pieces will consist of twenty four panels with eyeballs showing us a glimpse into a time that we are unable to see. I wanted to create these paintings to draw some sort of conclusion to this story that I’ve been creating so that I might be able to explore other ideas and stories.

3. What are you most excited about in your body of work for this show?

LIMON: I’d have to say that it would be the multi-panel piece I just mentioned. I normally keep a painting contained to one panel or canvas. I enjoyed developing the pattern of this one and figuring out how to make it one cohesive piece, but yet could be taken apart and make sense individually as well.

Thanks for chatting, Jason!

Hope you enjoyed that small glimpse into Jason’s marvelously creative brain! And – here is one more picture of Jason and his cat Linky, who he adamantly insists that he is not sitting on.

And if you absolutely cannot wait for the show preview to get a hold of some amazing Limon work, we’ve got his Candy Corn Ollie from the Bewitching II show up in the store right now!

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Manoukian logging his latest discovery

Stan Manoukian saw his first monster at age thirteen. Out for an early morning fishing trip with his father, the fog loomed heavily above the water at the edge of the lake. With his rod in the water, the young Manoukian waited patiently for a tug on his line. But nothing came. And soon, he noticed everything around him had stopped. The sing-song of nearby birds, the rustling of leaves on the breeze; time, he said, seemed suspended.

The boy looked back in search of his father, who was still fussing with his fishing gear at the car. Stan turned his attention back to the dead calm of the water in front of him, and that’s when he saw it. A ripple, a big one, disturbing the glassiness of the water about 10 meters away, where the fog was heaviest. His eyes grew wide. He inched his toes closer to the water, but found he was already at the edge. The ripples approached. Stan could only watch. As they grew closer, the giant head of an unknown aquatic creature broke the surface of the water. Its skin was smooth, the gaze of its one eye arresting.

"Hughmee"

“Hughmee” 9.6″ x 7.6″ mixed media on lithograph paper

“It wasn’t dangerous looking at all,” Manoukian, now 43, recalls. “It was a mix between a fish and a human, with two big arms and tentacle fingers. We watched each other for probably only a few seconds, but the exchange felt interminable. My father came back from his car and nature returned to life; the creature disappeared in the blink of an eye and suddenly I had a big fish on my fishing rod! I guess it was a present from this creature as proof of our meeting.”

Since then, the Parisian artist sees monsters all the time, and everywhere. Even in the shower. “But you know, they don’t care about nudity,” he laughs, “nudity is liberty!”

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After closing out his very successful show, Dead Wood, at Stranger Factory last month, Gary Ham is barreling full speed ahead with lots of new work and a new child on the way! He’s had a busy year, with the release of the adorable Wooper Looper and the stackable Monster Toytem, which was first seen in handmade wood form at last year’s Bewitching show.


(Ham, hamming.)

Ham graciously allowed me to hog a bit of his time for a short interview on some of his processes, tools, and artistic choices. Process images usually make me squeal with delight, and the trough of images Gary sent in are no exception. Anyway, I won’t boar you to death with my bad puns, sow let’s just move on to the interview, shall we?

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Before diving into the insanity of DesignerCon setup, we were offered the rare chance to check out the DKE warehouse. For those not on the west coast, the warehouse is something of legend — like the end scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I’ll tell ya now, it lived up to all expectations and I did my best to sneak in photos when I wasn’t busy staring in awe!

Above is one of the inner offices where you see toys you rarely see pop up in normal conventions. Further around the offices is where you see complete sets of all the Wilkowski pieces, bones, and even prototypes we will never see.

Above is just one of many many rows of stock. This where you really start to think the Ark is hidden between 16 cases of Chueh’s Target and the five stacks of Mummy Boys.

There isn’t just rooms full of stock going to your favorite retailers, there are also specific rooms. Now next to Skywalker Ranch, this might be nerd nirvana because DKE have a Star Wars room. Yes, a room filled with lots and lots of loose and in-box Star Wars toys! Here you find a herd of At-At hiding in the corner, a box of 18 power droids, fast food promo toys, a portion of a Wookiee, and much more. It is an epic sight to see, and I pretty much hung out in here for quite sometime in pure amazement.

Not to be outdone with a Star Wars room, the warehouse also has an entire book room and a plush room. Both these scream “grab an art book and belly flop into a pile of plush to read it for a few hours.”

Once again sorry for my lack of pictures because I was being a little kid at Christmas. I did get one of  DrilOne showing off his dunking skills outside the warehouse for everyone to enjoy.

Thank you again to Dov and Sarah Jo for the invitation, and check out their blog for news on upcoming toys.

Happy Hallow’s Eve, everyone! In continuing with the coverage of artists who are currently rocking my socks, it is of utmost pleasure to present a special Halloween edition and introduce you all to the quirks and creativity of one of my favourite ladies, Ghoul Friday. I discovered her work on a whim at Toronto’s FanExpo in August and have been hooked ever since. She’s from the city, makes awesome paper clay monsters and has also published her own book: Brains vs. Coffee, which quite hilariously explores the pros and cons of the consuming, enjoying, storing, preparing and disposing of each.

Friday is an ardent follower of Halloweenia, clearly. Most of us are in these parts, but she takes it to a whole ‘nother level, crafting most of the decorations herself and changing it up every year. I mean, seriously, people:

Now that’s a Halloween party we’d all want to go to, amirite? A self-taught sculptor who got her start making large-scale props for Halloween parties for nearly a decade, she took the plunge and started making her own little monsters and minions in 2009, and attended her first convention as a vendor that summer. She’s been at it ever since.

Friday’s creations are a combo of paper clay, paper mache, fabric and polymer clay, and while she’d like to say it’s because she’s a sort of eco-warrior, “a lot of it has to do with habits from being part of the Haunter community, where you build items from scavenged goods,” she explains.

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While vacationing in Albuquerque a couple of months ago, Kathie offered me the absolute pleasure of shooting some in-progress paintings for Haunted, her solo opening later this month at AFA NYC. It had been a little over a year since I had visited her studio, and the thought of documenting the work to later share with the fans was obviously a thrill. It’s why bloggers do what they do, after all, and it isn’t often that we get an intimate look behind the scenes at CP HQ.

Kathie’s studio is detached from the rest of their house in the mountains. Slipping out the sliding door of the sculpture studio and through a gate leading to the side yard, you then climb up the rocky facade of a small-but-steep incline that actually turns into cliff if you go the wrong way. Hanging a left, you soon see it: a large, glassed-in gazebo with wraparound deck. Ask Kathie about it and she’ll educate (and enterain) you on the perils of building into solid rock.

Despite its imposing size, the interior space of the gazebo is rather tight, with nearly every square inch occupied by easels, canvases, shelving and supplies. Shooting the art became a nerve-racking game of hopscotch as I tried to get the right angle without turning the canvases into dominoes.

The art shown here is only a sampling of what will be on exhibit at AFA. There are also the three-dimensional works, which were lurking in another studio in the house. Kathie’s workspace aside, there are also the toy and print studios, which I’ll document next visit. There’s also their rec room, where paintings and sculpts often spill onto tables, counter tops and any other conceivable surface. Pop into a washroom and you may see 30 some odd Stingy Jacks bathing in the tub. The art is everywhere and it’s incredible and inspiring how two artists have committed themselves so completely.

Anyway, without further adieu, enjoy the tour of Studio KO. Haunted opens Oct. 20th and runs through December at AFA NYC.

 Click through for more studio sneaks!

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Today starts a new feature on the Circus Posterus blog called Three for Thursday. Every so often on a Thursday, we will ask some of the Circus artists and fam a question picking their brains. The premise is simple, Ill ask a question wanting three answers. (yes this is a throwback to the days of zines)

For the fledgling entry, we have the yo-yo master and a man behind many scenes at Circus Posterus, Mr. Steve Brown.

Today I posed this question to Steve, “What three albums changed your life?

Now we let Steve tell us:

It’s absolutely impossible for me to do a “Top Three”. So many albums have changed my life at so many different times and places…Jawbreaker’s “Dear You” bled in to “Orange Rhyming Dictionary” by Jets To Brazil which led me to “Board of Rejection” by Gunmoll and those three albums kept me plenty sane at different points. How do I pick which album by The Clash meant more…trying to negotiate between “Sandinista”, the first album that made me really understand how much a band could push themselves even within the constraints of a major label and “London Calling” which was my first taste of white boys digging in reggae, and “The Clash” which was one of the first 3 punk rock albums I owned…it’s just impossible.

So here are three releases that meant a lot, but not until later. They didn’t rip the skies apart and change my world the second I heard them…but over the years I’ve gone back to them over and over and all of them have taken at least a decade for me to figure out how important they are to me.

In no particular order:

 Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

The first DK album I actually heard was “Plastic Surgery Disasters”, and it was loaned to me my freshman (sophomore?) year of high school by Sean Mahan. I don’t think Sean realized the impact that he had on me in high school, probably because I never told him. He was one of the coolest people I’d ever met. There was a weird little trio of him, Patrick Billard, and Todd Blumenthal. Those guys had already forgotten more about music than I knew, and I would desperately eavesdrop on their conversations and furiously scribble down band names to look for later. I would beg, borrow, and steal to scratch up money to go to Einstein-A-Go-Go (an all-ages indie rock club at Jacksonville Beach) on the nights I knew they were going, to see bands I’d never heard of. I wanted to be cool so badly, it hurt. And those guys were just effortlessly cool.

So one day, Sean loaned me two cassettes…one was “Scratch N Sniff Car Crash” by the Swamp Zombies (I will maintain to this day that their fourth album, “A Frenzy of Music and Action”, is still one of the best albums ever released) and “Plastic Surgery Disasters” by the Dead Kennedys. He did this after my very disastrous attempt to strike up a conversation with him and Todd about some band that I was pretending to know something about in order to fool them into thinking I was cool. Todd was a hilarious guy who was also deeply sarcastic and could sniff out bullshit a mile away, and he quickly called me out on mine. Sean, I think, just felt bad for me when he saw the flush of burning humiliation creep in to my cheeks and he kindly rooted around in his backpack and handed me those two cassettes, saying only “I think you might like these.”

He was right. I did. I absolutely loved them, in fact. So much so that after my first listen that night, I wrote and dispatched letters to both bands’ record labels asking for a catalog and more information about those bands.

Doctor Dream Records informed me they were out of the first two albums by the Swamp Zombies, but sent me a catalog and some stickers. Alternative Tentacles sent me a loose cassette of “Fresh Fruit”, a catalog, some stickers, and a note that said “The case for this was smashed, but the tape works fine. It’s DK’s first album…if you like a band, always start at the beginning.” It wasn’t until years later that I saw someone get an autograph from Jello Biafra and recognized his signature…and realized that he’d written me that note and sent me the tape.

I played that tape until it died, and then bought it on vinyl and then again later on CD. And to this day, any time I hear a band I like, the first thing I do is hunt down their first release. Always start at the beginning.

Click More for the remaining two albums that changed Steve’s life Read More

So Halloween is kind of a big deal in these parts and we’re all stoked to bits as fright night creeps ever closer. We have two cracking exhibitions in store for the event: our second annual All Hallow’s group show, Bewitching II, and Dead Wood, a mini exhibit from the great Gary Ham. Our Steve Brown recently caught up with Gary to gab about the show and the surreal spookery he’s bringing to Route 66 Oct. 5th.

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Steve Brown: Let’s talk about your upcoming exhibition, Dead Wood. What’s the story with this new group of work?

Gary Ham: With the show taking place in October along side the Bewitching show, I thought it would be a lot of fun to keep my theme to creatures of the dead and an overall Halloween feel. I love drawing monsters and working in wood, so Dead Wood felt like the perfect title for the show. Usually the monsters might lurk behind the trees, but in this case, the trees became the monsters.

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I’d be willing to bet that most of you know Dennis Larkins’ work and don’t even know it. Despite his expansive, 40-year-plus art career as a 3D painter and being one of the major players in LA’s Lowbrow movement in the ’80s and ’90s, Larkins is probably best known for his rock art, having created some of the Grateful Dead’s most famous gig posters for their now legendary stints at the Warfield in San Fran and NYC’s Radio City Music Hall in October 1980.

Like many artists, Larkins was well accustomed to having parallel careers, working as a scenic artist, set designer and rock n’ roll art director, while still actively pursuing his own artistic exploits. In the late ’80s, he went from Dead artist to Disney Imagineer, designing exhibits and attractions for Disneyland and Disney World.

But then there was the other side of Larkins’ work: the sci-fi nerdery, the dark humor, the sculpted dimensional relief … this is where it gets particularly interesting, at least from a designer toy standpoint.

Let me put it this way: the whole premise behind the toy movement was to redefine the canvas; to take characters from a 2 dimensional world and reimagine them in 3D. To make them tangible, ‘real’, and in a form that is more interactive for the collector. Well, Larkins had a similar idea about 30 years prior, but did it without abandoning the canvas. Instead, he started building upon it. Using foam, rubber and various plastics, Larkins pioneered a whole new chapter of conceptual realism. By applying a combination of low- and high-relief sculpture right onto the canvas, he’s able to create the illusion of an entire scene popping out at us. Some paintings have many layers, some only a few, but even his ‘deepest’, most complex pieces never exceed five inches. This was entirely new to the art scene in the 70s and transformed the canvas’ expressivity.

I recently caught up with Larkins to discuss his work, his plans with Stranger Factory and his move back to Santa Fe, NM, from LA after a 20 year absence.

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In anticipation of their exhibition at Stranger Factory in just under two weeks, artist sisters Miss Mindy and CJ Metzger were gracious enough to share a few words with us about Circus:Folke! Have a read and discover their pasts, artistic passions and the types of works they’re preparing for our oh-so-fortunate eyes. Enjoy!

MISS MINDY

The circus has always been an inspiration to me, maybe because I feel like I belong in one. The gaudy glitz of it all, the silly faces and the animals that I would love to see in my own bizarro traveling show. If I could create a circus that was miniature, and hidden in some crazy little forest, surround by cotton candy eating munchkins and pixies in killer outfits, that would be the bees knees.

I decided to mix all my artistic ‘loves’ in one pot for this one …. Inkwork, sculpture and painting. I’ve created some special little ‘players’ that have their own story to tell and show a taste of the imaginary circus in my head. It’s been in there since I was kid. My sister and I would put on parades, adorn out trikes with flags, and dress up in silly outfits from ‘The crazy dress up drawer.’ I guess you can say I never really grew up, and am happy to share that with you.

CJ METZGER

I was born of circus folk – not from tight rope walkers or sword eaters – but raised in a household buzzing with eclectic, eccentric and creative band of artists, inventors, teachers, and actors that shaped my world. From an early age, all that gorgeous and weird stuff that they generated was just part of my every day visual experience. You grow up in that environment, and you can’t help it – it’s in your blood for good.

In my first show with sister Miss Mindy titled “le monde est une cirque” (the world is a circus), over ten years ago, I began expressing my views about the world through these hybrid girl and animal creatures and characters, and from there, developed a love for using these folk portraits to tell stories and document feelings. Elements of “Circus” have always remained in my work, but for this show in particular, I imagined my perfect circus would be a band of the artists, inventors, and actors – shown as hybrid human animal characters, performing/existing in beautiful, theatrical, and unusual ways – all with unique backstories. Here, I was compelled to create work that both delights and sadden the senses, that evokes a sense of theatricality and that reveals these characters as the unique, beautifully adorned, revered, or misunderstood characters they are.

They are modern folk portraits, telling stories in their tattoos, their costumes, and their sometimes precarious predicaments – perhaps not so different than us all.

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