Giant Robot first appeared in the midst of the 'zine revolution of the 1990s as a small, photocopied digest of Asian and Asian-American pop culture. For many, the L.A.-based publication became the first place Americans read about film stars like Jet Li and Jackie Chan, Japanese street fashion and a wide variety of Asian foods that are now commonplace in Los Angeles. However, by the beginning of this decade, Giant Robot expanded beyond its reputation as a pop culture tome and became a must-read for information on up and coming artists. Yoshitomo Nara, kozyndan and Takashi Murakami are just a few to receive early exposure in the magazine.
With store/gallery locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, Giant Robot's influence on the art scene has become even more substantial. At Saturday night's opening reception of Giant Robot Biennale 2: 15 Years at Little Tokyo's Japanese American National Museum, the scope of artists represented was as diverse as it was intriguing.
Curated by Giant Robot's co-founder Eric Nakamura, the exhibit, which runs though January 24, 2010, is anchored by installations from eleven artists: David Choe; James Jean; Souther Salazar; Theo Ellsworth; kozyndan; Stella Lai (the cover artist for the magazine's latest issue); Jack Long; Albert Reyes; Jeff Soto; Rob Sato and Deth P. Sun. In the museum's Weingart Gallery is a group show featuring fifty artists, including Bigfoot, Nikki McClure, Kiyoshi Nakazawa and others. This gallery also features a photo retrospective from Giant Robot contributor Ben Clark and a kaiju (monster) display with work from Yukinori Dehara, David Horvath (UglyDolls) and LeMerde. Throughout the museum are a series of video games developed with Giant Robot-friendly artists.
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This is a fairly large exhibit, so if you plan to check it out, make sure you plan to spend a good chunk of the day at the museum, especially if you want to try out the video games. We were particularly taken by the immensity of James Jean's paintings, which will astound anyone who is a fan of his work as the cover artist for Fables, and Albert Reyes' massive installation of drawings on book covers.