Art Gets Creepy
I can finally quench my thirst for bloodthirsty humanoid war pigs. Awesome.
Jessica DuVerneay has a definite idea of what Cellar Door Gifts & Gallery should and should not be.
She has a master’s degree in library science, and a librarian’s attention to organization shows in her business plan. She compiled a long list—columns of what Cellar Door is, columns of what it isn’t. She describes it alternately as a “goth / hippie / punk rock thing” and “low brow / high quality.”
DuVerneay sells hand-grenade-shaped Christmas Tree ornaments, vegan soap, and books on screen-printing and other DIY art. A theme is difficult to nail down with regard to the gifts. But the art is a different story.
When I walked into Cellar Door for the first time, I was struck by the vibe. The art is equal parts early Tool video, animated sci-fi movie Heavy Metal and Tim Burton. Though the paintings on the wall by are by different artists, they all exhibit a marked creepiness—they’re not gross or unreasonably edgy, just creepy.
An emaciated Chihuahua wears roller skates. Bunny rabbits carry firearms. A “My Little Bonie” assumes the persona of Wendy O. Williams, the crazed lead singer of punk band The Plasmatics. Humanoid war pigs stalk invisible enemies inside a display case. There’s even a sheeple plate.
As DuVerneay is quick to point out, The Cellar Door is not really a “landscape painting” kind of place.
The art is equal parts early Tool video, animated sci-fi movie Heavy Metal and Tim Burton.
“The gallery is about local, creepy, handmade,” she says.
Her dark tastes notwithstanding, Jessica cordially greets a steady flow of the curious who peek in. As I stand by, a middle-aged couple comes in with a young girl and I expect them to do a quick about-face. Much to my surprise, they look at everything in the store. They opt for brain-shaped ice cube trays. The store is definitely edgy, but apparently it’s also appropriate to take a 12-year-old girl to.
A small art space in the back of the store features a series of oddly focused photographs of people in bunny masks taken in the Bosque by photographer Chip Simons. They’re dragging a giant carrot across an open field in one print. Bunnies are a recurring theme present at the Cellar Door, and they get real sinister real quick.
The store sits in one of the few remaining old-bungalows-cum-businesses at the end of the Bricklight District on Harvard. It’s a perfect fit among the quirky shops and businesses in the area.
DuVerneay says she tries to stay away from mass-produced merchandise and wants to eventually carry 100 percent local stock. She says there’s nothing in the store she wouldn’t buy.
Artists don’t have to be professionals to have their art hanging in Cellar Door. DuVerneay will accept work from hobbyists. She expects a certain standard, however. She won’t just hang a sketch out of a notebook. She is happy to look through a portfolio but wants it done by appointment.
“I want the art professional and ready to go,” she says.
DuVerneay is planning a juried exhibition called Unhappy Holidays. She’s looking for art that exhibits a certain disdain for the holiday season; none of the usual cheery dreck. There’s a $100 prize for best in show. Submissions must be e-mailed as attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Monday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m. Up to three submissions are allowed and work should be of professional quality. For more information, visit cellardoorgifts.com.
Cellar Door Gifts & Gallery
147 Harvard SE
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