Wes Anderson's films are the catalyst for a rich, inaugural group show at a new 'Loin School gallery called Lopo, which grew miraculously out of the back of Space Gallery. Converted from an old storage room, Lopo's three room space is big enough for multiple concurrent shows. Whether you love, hate, or are clueless about Anderson's films (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, and Fantastic Mr. Fox), the exhibition could inspire a movie marathon as you reunite with (or are introduced to) his collection of complex, idiosyncratic characters.
The show is hung salon style and is titled Bad Dads because nearly all of Wes Anderson's characters have daddy issues. Royal Tenenbaum and Steve Zissou were emotionally unavailable, and even Mr. Fox was a not-so-fantastic father. Consequently the films are populated by emotionally-scarred offspring, whose mopey faces appear among the show's many portraits. Margot Tenenbaum is one of the most-visited muses. As a tortured playwright, it's easy to see why her character resonates with artists. Her forbidden romance with her brother, Richie, is also represented. Steve Zissou (Bill Murray), sporting his signature red beanie, the signature element of his crew's uniform, the Belafonte, is also well represented. The show features many character studies in paint and collage, some literal and some re-imagined. Anderson recycles actors and Bill Murray appears in several of his films, so naturally he appears in various guises in the art. One artist painted Murray dressed as some of the other recognizable characters and renamed them "Margot Murray," or "Richie Murray," for example.
Several print series were released in conjunction with the show, including an homage to Jason Schwartzman's character from Anderson's short film, Hotel Chevalier. In the print, Schwartzman's character, Jack Whitman, is surrounded by a French translation of the memorable words he delivers to his ex-girlfriend: "I promise I'll never be your friend. No matter what. Ever." Besides Anderson's relatable characters, the art direction, music, and quotable moments in his films are easy targets for artists.
Curator Ken Harman considers Anderson one of few directors whose films have each reached some level of cult status. He gave selected artists three months to create something inspired by Anderson's characters and themes and kept the rules loose. Interest spread quickly as some of the artists' friends joined in. The show ended up featuring nearly fifty artists and seventy new works. Despite having seen several web previews of the show, seeing it in person was like walking into a huge box of fan art created by talented people with widely varying styles. But it's much more than fan art. The show is an honest tribute to the director and the misfit families he invents. If I were Wes Anderson, I'd buy the entire show.