Also check out our slideshow by Nanette Gonzales on The Pancakes and Booze Art Show
Some gallery owners organizing a show might draw inspiration from their college degrees in art history. But when Tom Kirlin curated his first art show, he was inspired by college memories of drunken pancake breakfasts.
Three years ago, Kirlin, a 33-year-old Arizona native, was working in Hollywood as a cameraman when he rented a warehouse downtown and threw an art, alcohol and pancake party for an artist friend.
“It was something that I always did in college,” Kirlin says. “You'd go out and drink all night long, and then the only place that's open for 24 hours is IHOP.”
The Pancakes & Booze art show, billed as the largest underground art show in Los Angeles, takes place locally about once every three months now. The latest installment, a “Best of” show representing over 100 Pancakes & Booze artists, happened this past weekend.
On Friday and Saturday night a team of bouncers checked the IDs of the several hundred visitors to a downtown warehouse by the 6th street bridge. Inside the massive space was live music and walls covered in canvases.
The wildly diverse pieces ranged from a $70 painting of a zombie Cartman from the television show South Park by former tattoo artist Mike Vanderhoof to $2900 for an abstract expressionist work by award-winning painter Ashleigh Sumner.
“I just pick what I think looks cool,” Kirlin says. “I'm not a gallery snob.”
Some of the participating artists have also been featured in mainstream art galleries, while others, such as such as Danny “Dizz” Russo, have only done the underground circuit and haven't sold any work yet.
“For me its just about generating the fans,” Russo said, next to a clay skull he sculpted in front of a live audience.
By the pancake line outside, Venice beach-based artist Vinny V 3-D aggressively hustled his spray paintings, which jumped to life when guests put on special 3-D glasses.
It was chilly inside the warehouse, but that didn't seem to bother the dozen or so young women parading around the dance floor in bikinis, stilettos and sequined Santa hats, who were modeling a swim wear line.
Kirlin has had enough success with the show that he's now able to hold it in other cities across the country. He said he averages about two shows a month.
In Minneapolis, he throws the show at an old night club. In San Francisco, owners of a mainstream gallery let him borrow their space to convert into his underground show for the evening.
“There are a lot of galleries that are hard to get into,” Kirlin says. “And there's so many artists out there that are just coming up and just want a place to exhibit their work, and I give them that outlet.”