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Art

Nevermore Park Manifests the Fictional Universe of Hebru Brantley's Flyboy and Lil Mama

March 5, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Amy Lombard, shared with permission

Packed within a 6,000-square-foot space on Chicago’s south side is a fictional universe teeming with pinned up newspaper clippings, towers of retro electronics, and tons of vintage advertising from McDonald’s to Vienna Hot Dogs. It’s the world of Hebru Brantley’s iconic characters, Lil Mama and Flyboy, whose enlarged head rests on the floor in one room of the immersive installation, titled Nevermore Park. Moving through the pathways lined with plastic toys and paint-spattered pallets, visitors pass a downed spaceship and a brick wall of street art, elements that structure Brantley’s narrative for the surreal environment.

The Los Angeles-based artist cites the tales of the superheroes and comic books he engaged with during his childhood living in Chicago as directly impacting his current projects. “I’m in love with creating and I have so many stories I want to tell,” he tells Colossal. “I want my work to create a narrative that hasn’t been told before, in ways others haven’t seen expressed. I’m working to create the things I wished existed.”

Although Brantley created many of the objects specifically for Nevermore Park, he also amassed thousands of pieces of real ephemera that create a strong undercurrent of Chicago’s history as expressed through pop culture, toys, magazines, and found objects. The periodicals lining the newsstand, for example, belonged to his grandmother. “She had saved a number of them and it created a unique opportunity for me to incorporate these real historical artifacts into my body of work for visitors to experience. Everything weaves together with the goal of staying authentic to the stories I wanted to tell,” he says.

Nevermore Park, though, is intended “to be a total sensory experience,” inspiring Brantley to collaborate with WILLS on the audio component, offering a soundtrack that he says visitors always ask about. “Bringing people into a space they wouldn’t normally occupy with sounds that are familiar, amplify the story and culture even more,” he writes. “Sight is an important aspect of the experience but so is the sound piped into each section.”

If you’re in Chicago, there are tickets available to visit Nevermore Park through May 3. Otherwise, head to Instagram to keep up with Brantley and see what’s next for Flyboy, Lil Mama, and Nevermore Park.

 

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Art

Laughable High-jinks of Cartoon Rivals Tom and Jerry Are Recreated Perfectly in Sculptures by Taku Inoue

December 31, 2019

Grace Ebert

Japanese artist Taku Inoue isn’t letting anyone forget the most outlandish moments of Tom and Jerry’s notorious cartoon feud. Through his sculptures showing Tom Cat flattened from sliding underneath a door and Jerry Mouse molded into the shape of a cheese slice, the artist recreates the iconic animated pair’s most painful and hilarious accidents. In the American cartoon series that premiered in 1940, Tom most often finds himself in unfortunate mishaps as he tries and regularly fails to capture Jerry. Many of Inoue’s pieces center the show’s slapstick humor, featuring Tom’s contorted body as he’s stuffed into a water glass or duplicated to resemble bowling pins. Follow all of the artists’s comical sculptures depicting the forever rivals on Twitter and Instagram. (via deMilked)

 

 



Art

Insect Illustrations Inspired by Looney Tunes Characters and Horror Movie Icons

June 22, 2019

Andrew LaSane

UK-based illustrator Richard Wilkinson (previously) imagines new insect species inspired by familiar faces from popular culture. Two of his more recent series cover both ends of a fantastical spectrum, with bugs designed after horror movie villains and children’s cartoon characters.

For his horror icons Family: Timorpersonae collection, Wilkinson pays homage to classic slashers and newer terrors including Jason Voorhees, Pennywise the Clown, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the demon Valak. For each insect’s zoological nomenclature, Wilkinson creates a Latin phrase that serves as a description of the character or their respective film. For example, his Freddy Krueger “A Nightmare on Elm Street” piece is titled Insomnium ulmusvicus: insomnium from the Latin insomnis (sleep), ulmus (street), and vicus (elm).

For his Family: Insanusmelodiae series, Wilkinson incorporated the faces of iconic Looney Tunes characters into the bodies of beetles and bugs who inherited unfortunate but funny traits from their cartoon counterparts. “Their distinctive characteristics include loud and often odd vocalizations and the very distinctive fast and erratic movements,” the artist wrote in a statement. He added that the “most peculiar aspect of the Insanusmelodiae’s behaviour is their clumsiness. They often meet their end under a falling stone or twig, or after falling from a long drop. Their wings, also vestigial, can produce enough uplift to keep them in the air for a moment or two before they fall.”

To see more of Wilkinson’s buggy mashups, fly on over to his Instagram page.

 

 



Art Design

Send-Ups of Pop Culture and Capitalism Hidden in Retail Stores by Obvious Plant

April 26, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

The next time you’re in a grocery store, pharmacy, or toy department and spot a subtly unusual item, it might an Obvious Plant. Jeff Wysaski, the man behind the meme, has been creating and depositing strange flyers, placards, and packaged products in conventional retail outlets for several years. His creations are often a send-up of a popular pop culture phenomenon like Sesame Street or The Avengers, and feature chuckle-inducing copy, alternately quippy and filled with intentional typos. From a lonely Bert to Barely Any Ketchup (made by “Hardly Foods”), Obvious Plant items have become increasingly elaborate over the years, and Wysanski makes some of his designs available for purchase in an online store.

You can follow along with Obvious Plant’s quirky interventions on Instagram. If these are up your alley, also check out Chindōgu, a concept and subsequent community of designers of useless products, first popularized in 1990’s Japan by Kenji Kawakami.

 

 



Design

R2-D2 Appears to Sit on a German Hillside Thanks to a University Observatory's Star Wars-Inspired Makeover

April 1, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Sci-fi superfan Hubert Zitt has given the Zweibrücken Observatory of the Natural Science Association a pop culture-inspired makeover. The paint job, completed in fall 2018, replicates R2-D2’s signature blue and white markings on the already perfectly droid-shaped building. The observatory has become a destination for Star Wars fans who trek up the hill—sometimes in costume—to pay homage and take a photo with the larger than life R2-D2. Zitt, a sci-fi enthusiast, is known for his writing and lecturing on Star Trek in addition to his 20 year professorship in computer science and engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Zweibrücken. (via My Modern Met)

 

 



Art

Popular Cartoons and Mascots Unwind to Reveal Realistic Depictions of Their Human and Animal Inspirations

November 7, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Dutch artist Stefan Thelen, a.k.a. Super A (previously here and here) removes the fantasy from classic pop culture characters like Batman and Mickey Mouse to reveal more realistic interpretations of their cartoon constructs. An owl peers out between the gaps of its cartoon self in a painting of a scene from Sleeping Beauty, while a white cat with piercing orange eyes pokes its paw out of a spiraled depiction of Hello Kitty.

The new works, which are part of Thelen’s ongoing series titled Trapped, are currently on view at the Brand Library & Arts Center for his solo exhibition Domestication curated by Thinkspace Projects. You can see more of his mash-ups of pop culture figures and their human and animal inspirations on his website and Instagram. (via Arrested Motion)