Downtown gallery brings the ho-ho-horror
At the tender age of 12, I made a startling discovery: I could check out Stephen King books from the library. Perhaps the librarian was fooled by my maturing breasts, but my parents were hip to the fact that King did not write for a preteen reader, so I hid the books under my bed. When not devouring them under the covers, my heart pounding, the fear of getting caught was almost as scary as the nightmarish images King’s words conjured in my immature mind.
The Creepshow: A Tribute to Stephen King is the twisted brainchild of artists Jeremy Montoya, Jon Sanchez and P.Nut, and it offers a chance to delight in all kinds of nightmarish images. The trio count themselves fans of King, though admittedly the celluloid creations more than the written works in some cases. Describing the show modestly as “a collection of friends that P.Nut got together,” Sanchez says everything—the artists, the art, the venue—came together almost supernaturally, down to the lucky Friday the 13th opening.
“Stephen King is an artist that, even if you haven’t read him, you’ve seen a movie, you know who Stephen King is,” P.Nut says. King’s domination of the horror genre has often overshadowed his works that rely not on the paranormal but on the horror humankind exhibits through greed, malice and mental instability. In its realism, Annie Wilkes’ fanaticism in Misery is more frightening than werewolves or evil clowns. Well, maybe not evil clowns.
Montoya’s contributions to The Creepshow include a silkscreen film poster for Pet Sematary complete with eerily glowing reanimated cat eyes. His connection to the film goes back to his childhood. “My parents didn’t take us to too many movies,” he says, “but the movie I remember most was Pet Sematary.” Montoya’s mother, eager to see the film, bribed him and his younger brother with candy on the condition they stay under a blanket. Montoya didn’t stay under the blanket.
Sanchez took a less sentimental approach to his film poster. Maximum Overdrive was a bold move by King; he had grumbled frequently and loudly about previous big screen adaptations of his work, so he decided to take the reins and direct his own story. King, alas, proved only that he should stick to writing. Maximum Overdrive is awesomely bad and delivers little more than wacky ways to die. (Projectile soda can to the face, anyone?) But Sanchez’ poster glorifies what is good and memorable about the film: the Green Goblin truck and the AC/DC soundtrack. It’s a better homage than the film deserves.
Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is admittedly King’s least favorite adaptation. Sure, Kubrick changed the ending and the focus of the story, the dirty rat. But in all seriousness, have you seen the film? The Shining was a good book, but Kubrick made a masterpiece of terror. Nicole Riner’s giclée print, “Overlook Hotel,” gives a subtle nod to which version she prefers: The hexagon pattern and border repeating “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” are details exclusive to Kubrick’s film. Augustine Romero’s oil “Redrum” lays the creepiness on thick with REDRUM scrawled in crayon below a portrait of the two little girls inviting Danny to play with them—forever and ever and ever.
Carrie, the tragic tale of a telekinetic teenager wreaking havoc on her abusive classmates,p inspires more than one stunning piece. D.J. Outlaw’s “Every Girl’s Dream?” rains a fountain of blood over Carrie’s empty prom dress, commanding your gaze as soon as you climb Downtown Contemporary’s black staircase to the gallery floor. Opposite that is Christian Gallegos’ offering, “The Curse of Blood,” an enormous chalk-like depiction of Carrie praying at her altar. The image seems innocent enough, but we know psychotic, bible-thumping Margaret White—the real terror—is near.
And, of course, Pennywise. Shudder. As terrifying clowns go, IT’s Pennywise has to be the most terrifying. Even without the razor-sharp teeth bared, Pennywise is “everything you ever were afraid of.” Amy Saenz has two takes on Pennywise: “IT with Balloons” packs a lot of creep into a small image, but “IT Teeth” leaps off the canvas into your nightmares. Without showing the dreaded clown, Santi Rivera’s “They All Float Down Here” recalls Georgie’s encounter with Pennywise at the storm drain, the gloss of the paint reminiscent of the rain and, presumably, Georgie’s tears as he is ensnared by Pennywise. Oh yes, we all float down there.
Can’t get enough of the King? The love continues later this month at the Guild Cinema. The Alibi Midnight Movie Madness Stephen King X-mas Special Maximum Overdrive and Pet Sematary double feature runs Friday and Saturday, Dec. 27-28. With two films for one price, you’ll have funds left over to pick up Sanchez’ and Montoya’s corresponding posters, available at both shows.
The Creepshow runs through Jan. 17 and closes that night with a party at 6pm, one last chance to revel in the onslaught of horror this show provides. Let the sanguinary warmth keep you in its embrace during the cold, dark winter months.
Runs through Jan. 17
Downtown Contemporary Gallery
105 Fourth Street SW
Hours: Tues. and Thurs. 11:30am to 6pm, Sat. 12pm to 4pm and by appointment