By Jamie Solis
Vintage films are known to have an intrinsic cult following. Maybe it’s because they remind us of the matte simplicity that’s fading in our digital society, or it could be the growing appreciation for classic features—when storylines were still unique and theatrics took fearless risks. Either way, we find ourselves attracted to old school cinema and the bold propaganda-esque designs that adorn their artwork. Regardless the reason for our fantastic obsession, posters from motion film’s past have been re-imagined, reinvented and redesigned using various forms of media at “Double Feature: the Mad Art of Midnight Movies.” Twenty-five venturous artists eagerly present their current interpretation of a cult movie classic poster on display, while you can compare them with the exhibited originals. Come recognize the silver screen’s transformation of taste and vision over the years.
Right away, it’ll be clear that these artists are not thinking inside the box, fighting against the structure of a rectangle display and creating large commanding works. Upon entering the Main Street Gallery in the heart of Downtown Pomona, you’ll instantly be directed towards Coma by Matthew Blansett. Using wood, acrylic paint and wire, Blansett emphasizes the hanging man that appears as a mere afterthought on the busy original. The man is suspended by wires to large letters above him that spell out COMA. Purples and blues shadow the suspended man’s body and face, giving off a creepy appeal—which may come from the overall state of mind you have while enduring this strange 1978 film. Spoiler alert: The people hanging by wires in Coma were purposefully put into a coma to be used as organ donors for rich folk—definitely an eerie ending to this paranoia-filled flick.
Nearby, another intriguing piece entitled Escape from Planet of the Apes (clearly reviving the primate movie art by the same title) was created by Joe Forte. He transported this design into the twenty first century with spray paint, stencil work and his chic street style. On top of a background of irrelevant words from what appear to be vintage print publications, layers upon layers of spray painted shapes compile a chromatic ape face that commands the attention of the studio’s bottom floor. Forte’s interpretation is much more thought-provoking than the earliest piece, with endless swirls of color and a hidden image that make you feel like you’re solving a puzzle.
Standing out agleam against the neutral gray wall, Owl by Athena Hahn is also quite dissimilar if not opposite of the model midnight movie artwork it was envisioned from. There’s a silver glow that suggests this character is from a world far more mystical than here, which is spot on—The Clash of the Titans was a hit 1981 fantasy film based around Greek mythology. While the classic art focused on Medusa and Greek gods, Hahn surprises us. She completely refocuses the piece from the main characters of the film to the no less important Bubo—Athena’s heroic owl. While there are many more artists that produced works unalike its predecessor, there are many who kept consistent with the past inspiration.
Some chose to stay true to the timeless vision, while adding much more life and vibrancy. Bill Moore modernized the Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie poster using texture, while keeping true to its dark, disturbing form. Black figures hover above and below the golden ground in his reinvented piece—igniting an uneasy eerie feeling within the viewer’s chest, complete with shivers down your spine.
Artist A.S. Ashley also kept within the same scope in redesigning the cover for the terrifying love story, Magic, by keeping the focus on the mind-controlling murdering dummy named Fats. It goes without saying that ventriloquists and their dummies freak us out, however this rendition is so unnerving, it takes the fear to another level. You’ll be watching your back as you walk away. Using deep and rich colors create a three-dimensional and lifelike portrait, it proves to be the definition of spooky.
Overall, “Double Feature: the Mad Art of Midnight Movies” is full of surprises; we recommend stopping by Amy Maloof’s color photographs entitled, Mattie—an amusing interpretation of supernatural horror film Carrie. This assortment of imaginative and engaging works will be on display through July 27, which includes countless unmentioned film adaptations including Bonnie & Clyde, Barbarella, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, The Elephant Man and many more. These visionary pieces will solidify that art cannot repeat itself—you certainly will not be seeing double.
“Double Feature: the Mad Art of Midnight Movies” Main Street Art Gallery at the Pomona Frame House, 252-C Main St., Pomona, (909) 868-2970; www.pomonaframehouse.com, www.facebook.com/george.cuttress. Thru July 27. Open Tues.-Sat., 11AM-6PM; Sat., July 13, 6-9PM; Closing reception July 27, 6-9PM. Free.
*above artwork by Vonn Sumner. Pink Moment, oil on canvas, 24×36.