Walk into Stranger Factory (109 Carlisle NE) and you’ll find an abundance of creatures looking back at you. Creepy monsters, robots with glowing eyes and a variety of vinyl figures cover the walls and shelves. And while you may think space men, a skeletal bride and a monkey with boxing gloves have nothing in common, the uniting component is definitely coolness.
This month, Brooklyn-based artist Andrew Bell takes over the Main Gallery. Bell’s long history here goes back to 2011, the gallery’s inaugural year, and includes his cute but dentally menacing (chocolate) Kisses of Death at the Bewitching III group show last Halloween. Fittingly, it was during Bell’s 2012 show at Stranger Factory that the idea for Factory Strangers sparked.
Combined, the show’s acrylic-on-resin sculptures tell the story of an ominous factory in a world short on resources and long on corporate greed and toxic waste. Bell presents the chain of command from the towering “Overseer” with vestigial eyes down to the lowly capacitors and resistors, unwilling conduits for the transference of energy. Outside the factory, the “Environmental Impact Team” survey the wasteland in their hazmat suits, and the standalone “Factory M.A.N. (Mobile Autonomous Node)” roams without purpose, consuming resources only to vomit pollutants.
Bell’s imagination is evenly matched by his ability in multiple mediums. The woodwork in the five “Extraction Station” pieces shows both a skilled hand and a macabre sense of humor: Tiny skulls and swirls decorate the tables upon which children’s souls are sucked out for conversion into precious energy.
For the toy collectors, a blind box from Bell’s Mardivale Dunny series—a collaboration with graffiti artist Scribe—makes for a modestly priced piece of art to take home immediately.
Bell completes the show with selections from his monster-a-day project, carried out over the last seven years. The ink and pigment drawings feature monsters too cute to be creepy, more forlorn than scary. The über-adorable “i honestly did not know that would happen…” depicts an apologetic cephalopod holding the smoking ray gun that ventilated his oafish friend. But the two monsters morphing into one being in “i want you to hold me closer…” and the oozing monster who just wants “…hugs?” express the desperation and loneliness that imbue the majority of Bell’s drawings.
Revive your joie de vivre with Into the Abliss, works by Bwana Spoons and Martin Ontiveros in the Project Room. Spoons and Ontiveros are well suited to hang side by side with their vibrant color and bizarro creatures. Ontiveros’ crisp lines lend a cartoon vibe to his monstrous creations, while Spoons draws inspiration from nature, the swirling lines of psychedelic color creating a hypnotic landscape populated with peculiar beings. Spoons supplements his paintings with some lovable vinyl monsters in need of a good home.
The phantasmagoric worlds populated by Bell, Spoons and Ontiveros’ creations are available for your gaze and purchase through April 27.
art by Andrew Bell (Main Gallery)
art by Bwana Spoons and Martin Ontiveros (Project Room)
Continues through April 27
109 Carlisle NE
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11am-6pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-7pm, Sunday noon-6pm