At times, Ryan McCann's piece for “Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary Show,” now running at Gallery1988 (West) on Melrose Avenue, looks like a blank piece of wood. Walk around the gallery a bit, or tilt your head, and something happens. Slimer, the green, ectoplasmic blob of a ghost made famous in the 1984 blockbuster, appears on the slab hanging from the wall. Sometimes, Slimer shows up in a brilliant shade of neon green. Other times, the specter haunts in a faded hue.
McCann's rendition of Slimer was a big hit at Saturday night's opening of the traveling exhibition. You couldn't pass by it just once. The L.A.-based artist didn't want to disclose how he made the show-stopper, just that it's made of “wood and electronics” and it's a process that he's been cultivating for years. He says, “I think it's more fun to have an experience with it.”
Maybe he's right. Ghostbusters used special effects to drive a movie about paranormal phenomenon. McCann, who normally works with wood and blowtorch, is essentially doing the same thing.
If you're over 30, then you remember that Ghostbusters was a monumental hit when it was released. It brought together some of the comedy greats of the era. It had a theme song that topped the pop charts. It spawned a sequel, an animated series and related merchandise.
The original film didn't fade away. McCann, who was born in 1979, likens Ghostbusters to Back to the Future. “You just grow up with those movies,” he says. They always seemed to be playing on cable.
See also: Our photo gallery of the event
Of the movie, he recalls, “It was really scary, but so entertaining at the same time.” That hasn't changed; Ghostbusters is still an incredibly fun movie to watch, especially when you're old enough to understand the jokes that go over little kids' heads.
“Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary Show” has been in the planning stages for over a year. Jensen Karp, who co-owns and co-curates Gallery1988, says that the event was spawned from their 2012 Breaking Bad collaboration with Sony. Based on the success of that show, the media company and art gallery began brainstorming ideas for future projects.
“The anniversary of Ghostbusters was a huge deal to me and mostly to everyone who follows pop culture,” says Karp. “So, it's kind of a no-brainer from there since we knew that there were a lot of artists who would feel the same way.”
With shows like this, Gallery1988 functions not just as an art space, but as a marketing group. “We were so sick of the billboard and all these terrible ways that these companies try to advertise their movies,” says Karp. “We found a way to create an organic art show, more than anything, that's super fun and supports artists as well for their sales.” These collaborative shows are often tied to anniversaries or movie releases and they can bring in huge amounts of fans. People camp out, and the prints sell out quickly.
The Ghostbusters show, though, is a much grander event than what Gallery1988 normally does. It's a traveling exhibition that started in New York last month. The L.A. show will last until June 1, and after that it moves to Chicago before concluding at San Diego Comic-Con in July.
There's a lot of variety in the works presented in the show. Pretty in Plastic made a 7-foot tall Slimer installation. There are original works and prints as well as t-shirts and other exclusive merchandise from over 70 artists, five of whom were added to the exhibition with the L.A. stop. Because the works often sell quickly, they've allotted limited quantities at each stop and many of those are only available at the exhibition. There are also anniversary screen prints that are available for purchase online at Ghostbusters30th.com.
The demand for Ghostbusters art is real. On Saturday, the line wrapped around the corner and into an alley behind the shop. Some of the people in it had been waiting for hours.
Joshua Holtz, a 23-year-old from Santa Clarita, queued up at 6 a.m. He's a poster collector; for him, part of the experience was hanging out all day with friends who share his hobby. By the evening, he had scored a couple prints from favorite artists, as well as a T-shirt and a small Pretty in Plastic Slimer figure.
Karp says that it's great to see multiple generations interested in Ghostbusters. However, there's also a personal significance to this show. Gallery1988 just hit its 10th anniversary on Melrose Avenue and its success parallels the story of a fictional New York business called Ghostbusters.
“This movie, at its core, is about guys building a business,” says Karp. He points out that the ghostbusters succeed despite odds stacked up against them. “In a weird way, it mirrors what we do at the gallery,” he explains. “No one thought that we could have a pop culture art gallery 10 years ago and now that's all you see popping up left and right.”
That Ghostbusters and Gallery1988 celebrate milestone anniversaries in the same year is serendipitous. Even though the gallery's anniversary show took place last month, “Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary Show” has become a fitting way to celebrate that feat.
See also: Our photo gallery of the event
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