By Constance Stotzer. Showing at Blackbird.
The Greatest Show on Earth
Step aside, Circus Circus. Blackbird Studios is turning into the Big Top for its next group exhibit, The Greatest Show on Earth. From clowns and fire-breathers to tigers, mystics and bearded ladies, the art on display and performances happening for First Friday will all explore and celebrate traveling circuses.
Artist Lisa Dittrich: “In ‘Clara Queen of the Big Top,’ I was attempting to capture a stolen moment with an aging circus woman. Where others may find sideshow entertainers grotesque or frightening, I am attracted to their beauty. I like to think that when these performers came to town that perhaps their presence would give someone with similar traits the courage to celebrate themselves.”
Peter Mengert: “’The Crow Sisters’ were inspired by the real-life Fox sisters, who were famous mediums, but the similarities end there. The Crow sisters are triplets who lose one sister and both parents under mysterious circumstances. Part of their story takes place in Haiti, and there is a little voodoo myth [referencing] Papa Legba’s. Veve [a Haitian voodoo symbol] is shown in the painting.”
Blackbird Studios, 1551 S. Commerce St., blackbirdstudioslv.com
The Bunny Trail
For eight years, Juan Muniz has been blazing a trail through the Arts District: beginning with a First Friday sidewalk booth, progressing to solo shows in local galleries and not long after hopping into exhibits from Los Angeles to Taiwan. A contract with a Strip gallery means this exhibit at 303 North Studio will be his last downtown show. In his farewell exhibit, Muniz discusses the origins of the bunny-suited character, “Filipe,” and vows not to forget his roots.
Muniz: “I will for sure miss First Friday shows and openings at the Arts District. That is where it all started, and that is where I feel at home.
“’Felipe’ was created about seven years ago after my friend and fellow artist Danny Roberts advised me to do a show based on a single character. I created this cute little bunny with a mask for a face with two holes for eyes. I did a show solo called A collection of self portraits that look nothing like me. I painted every piece based on what I was going through at the time — love, stress, anger, fear. … I never believed anyone was gonna understand any of the paintings [or] what the hell this blank-face bunny was doing, but I was wrong; the emotional impact that Felipe brought out in people was huge!”
303 North Studio, 107 E. Charleston Blvd. No. 115 www.facebook.com/303NorthStudio
Six Years of Solitude
The iconic mask of the famous Mexican luchador “Blue Demon” adds surreal curiosity to the photos of local photographer Antonio Gomez. Donning the mask, a solitary figure inhabits quiet, empty landscapes — floating in a deserted pool, standing under a street lamp, provoking a strange contemplative experience as the viewer builds mental narratives around the masked figure.
Gomez: “I started the series about six years ago, on a trip to Mexico. Exploring an outdoor market, I discovered the Luchador mask and thought it would be interesting to photograph someone wearing it. Since that day on, I carried the masked with me everywhere I went, and each time I found an interesting location, I asked my son to don the mask for a new picture. Months and years went by, and before I knew it I had several hundred images. Solitude became one of the most evident common threads within the work.”
Brett Wesley Gallery, 1112 S. Casino Center Blvd., www.brettwesleygallery.com
The Big, Big World of Garilyn Brune
Large women wearing revealing dresses, stilettos and showgirl outfits stare down viewers, insisting upon full-figured sexiness. The drawings of L.A. fashion illustrator Garilyn Brune offer up bold women challenging the perception that sexy has to be skinny.
Brune: “I am an artist of size. I have been a big person pretty much all of my adult life, so I know well how society looks at and judges big people. In particular, I know that, as hard as the road has been for me, it can be even harder for women, who are generally judged by their appearance even more than men. Size discrimination is one of the last socially accepted bigotries. In my work, [women] do not suffer from society’s disapproval — far from it, they are celebrated.
“’Gossip Girls With Butt Cleavage’ was created by me after the following event: A metrosexual friend of mine loved hanging out with me in the gay bars, but one time we decided to see how the ‘other half’ lives. As we walked into a jazz bar called Simply Blues, there were two BBW’s (big beautiful women) dressed in very skimpy little dresses and sitting at the bar. They were totally glamorous in my eyes. … I loved that they were oblivious to the criticism and odd looks from the other patrons. They had found that core within themselves that allows them to love themselves as they are at that given moment, and be able to walk out that front door and face the world.”
RTZvegas, 1017 S. First St., Suite 195, www.rtzvegas.com