Haskins beams with pride beside Jude Buffum's “Saved By the Bell”…

Gallery 1988, the tiny room on Melrose with the big vision, has emerged as a legit mecca of popular culture as fine art. Their artists are of a generation less restricted about ideas of what art can and should be, and dammit, if a rainbow frisbee with Fred Berry's face on it moves someone… so be it!

Their current exhibition, “Idiot Box,” opened last night and the celebration of “television's guilty pleasures” didn't disappoint. (We'd actually take exception to some of the subjects based on that theme. No guilt at all about Twin Peaks or Freaks & Geeks, those are required viewing… Small Wonder, okay that makes more sense.) A variety of showpieces from the sublime to the ridiculous (and in the case of a mirrored lightbox with the pop visage of Charles Nelson Reilly, both) graced the walls while guests, particularly of the twentysomething variety, await the night's special guest… Dennis Haskins.

Perusing the telly visuals

Mulder and Scully greet a pantheon of TV aliens (“The Truth Is Out There” by Aaron Jasinksi)

…while gallery-goers grok the theme tune on the headsets.

Born before 1980? We'll explain… Dennis Haskins played Mr. Belding on Saved By the Bell – the Saturday kids-com celebrating its 20th anniversary – and his flummoxed principal became the icon of dodged authority for early '90s teen set. Admittedly, we're of the generation before (our hapless principal of choice was Ed Rooney), but Haskins charms the crowd, doles out autographs and goofy photo ops, and we can't help but be impressed with his observations on a SBTB video game-styled piece. “Look at that…it's like Robot Chicken, only this time, Screech wins.” Ha! Belding's one of us.

“S.Urkel Jerk” – thanks, Alex Pardee, for the next six months' worth of nightmares!

Keith Noordzy discusses his “Play-Along With the Snorks.” (Great shirt.)

Muggin' with Hasky.

Ayyyy!: Shark jumping as high art. (“Happy Days” by Ryan Sanchez)

“Idiot Box” is open at Gallery 1988 through April 23rd; click here to preview the entire collection.

LA Weekly