Inside the gallery of Sunset Boulevard comic book outlet Meltdown on Saturday night, Los Angeles was imagined as a sometimes whimsical, sometimes disturbing fairy land filled with cracked skateboards, smog monsters and grotesque starlets, where laborers became superheroes and St. Shakey watched over the girls working the Santa Monica and Highland intersection. It was as though excerpts from a Francesca Lia Block novel had come to life in mixed media, a scene strangely normal for anyone who has ever been cut off by the billboard model in a pink Corvette while cruising the 101 or bumped into a guy wearing a dollhouse as a hat when strolling Hollywood Boulevard.
"There are a lot of fibs and fables going on in L.A.," says Aaron Clarke, who initially conceived of the LA Myth project in 2007 and co-curated its second installment with Denise Chavez. That constantly blurred line between fiction and reality was depicted by a large cast of artists, most of whom work by day in animation or other highly visual aspects of the entertainment industry.
"The cool thing about the art scene that is going on right now is that it...is very cartoon nostalgic," says Clarke. "The people out there doing animation are, at night time, doing this kind of pop art. It has the same language as the animation industry, there are characters and icons, the same thing as advertising."
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The artists' interpretations of myths across Los Angeles were vast. On the food front, Jorge Gutierrez (El Tigre) dreamt of the perfect burrito and Kyle Neswald depicted a taco truck that transforms into a robot named Optimus Picante. Within the realm of creatures, Danelle Vierkant's sculpted beasts ran amok through the city and Holly Conrad created a series of familiars that she imagines might help job-seekers the way they assisted wizards and witches in British mythology. Other artists took a conceptual route, like Lloyd Matthews, whose three-panel piece "Plagued" combined plague masks with birds, bats, photography and candle wax to reference creation myths and represent "balance" between disparate viewpoints.
"I think that this year we were trying to get the artists more involved in trying to get together and promote themselves and kind of meld with the L.A. community," says co-creator Chavez. "We wanted the artists to connect with LA Myth in a way, kind of what you would see if you walked around, what mythical creatures run L.A. every day."
LA Myth runs through February 21 at Meltdown Comics & Collectibles.