Friday, August 23, 2013

Kooky for Kustom Kulture II

Leave it to old chucklehead over here to tell you about something cool with only days left to go experience it for yourself.  For well over a month, the Huntington Beach Art Center has played host to "Kustom Kulture II," a collection of paintings, sculpture, photography, poster art, automobiles, and artifacts that documents Southern California's Kustom Kulture scene - but we hadn't had the chance to go until yesterday.

Nick, Mary, Ben, Erika, Mr. Tiny, and Fabian
Tell the truth, if you saw this group headed towards your gallery/museum,
you'd quickly flip the sign to closed and lock the door, wouldn't you?

It wouldn't be much of a Kustom Kulture exhibit without the big names - Robert Williams, Ed Hardy, Von Dutch, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, George Barris, et al.  Many more artists were included and if my reporting skills weren't so abysmal, then I might have remembered a few of their names and credited them accordingly.

I liked this piece less for the masterfully-executed, mixed-media renderings and more for
the story of the artist who in a few short sentences described his Jayne Mansfield
encounters from supper club floor show, to shoe shopping, to decapitation.

I loved seeing Dali stuck inside of a surrealist landscape.
More than anything I love that frame; I'm a sucker for a gaudy, gilt frame!

Now that's a lucky cat!
In photograph, these almost look like two-dimensional paintings, 
but they are incredibly-detailed, sculpted figures - even the slobber!

Look at these cornballs pretending to be art connoisseurs.

George Barris was here.

Mary and one of the Munster Koaches.
I know that it is a showpiece, but if I have one complaint it's that it is way too shiny.  I want tarnish and cobwebs!

Erika puts on a very special, Munsters-themed performance.

When it comes to lowbrow art, I only like it one way - lowbrow.  Lowbrow with overly-thoughtful, highbrow tendencies is a big turn off to me.  I think that is why so many people connect with Ed Roth's art; there was no pretentious message behind Rat Fink.  Even if Rat Fink was symbolic of something, it was of abandoning pretension and enjoying the many pleasures of life - real wacky tacky.  As much as I appreciate their work, I think some artists can take themselves way too seriously.

Venus on the half shell in giant work boots with 5 o'clock shadow and a stogie.
This is but a small extraction from a much larger work of art
by Robert Williams...I think he's trying to tell us something. 

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

They're from Boyle Heights...

I've never been a huge fan of Von Dutch until I read these words.  Amen and amen!
"Use any of my stuff you want to.  Nothing is original.  Everything is in the subconscious, we just 'tap' it
 sometimes and 'think' we have originated something.  Genes make us more or less interested in certain
 things but nothing is truly original!  Copyright and patents are mostly an ego trip." - Von Dutch

Scabbo!  Revolting and awesome all at the same time!

Of course, the star of any Kustom Kulture show is the work of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth.  It sounds bizarre, but I think there is something so wholesome and innocent about his imagery; it is like being a child, taking all of the grossest, coolest, craziest things one can think of and putting them all together.  There is no fancy training, no respect for tradition, no overt political agenda - just a reckless abandon, speed, and fun!

Lucky to have been brought up around this (k)ulture, I was particularly excited to visit again with one of Roth's most celebrated works.


Famous on screen and off, the Surfite can be spotted in the
background of this still from Beach Blanket Bingo.

Annette & Big Daddy
When my favorite worlds collide!

Shag's homage to 60's hot rod/surf culture and Big Daddy Roth.

The Surfite model kit

The installation was a recreation of the Revell model kit cover -
tiki shack, ukulele, and beach bum included.

Speaking of beach bums...I can't take these goons anywhere!

If you're in or around Orange County, CA, I suggest a little trip over to the Huntington Beach Art Center for a dose of "Kustom Kulture II."  It was the perfect way to cap off our kulturally-rich summer after going to The Egyptian Theater in Hollywood for a screening of the Robert Williams documentary, Mr. Bitchin'.

Trailer for Robert Williams Mr. Bitchin'

The "Kustom Kulture II" exhibit officially ends on August 31 but Saturday, August 24, is the closing reception and panel discussion with the curator of the exhibit and some of the featured artists.  It's never too late to get some Kulture!

Kustom Kulture II
Huntington Beach Art Center
538 Main Street
Huntington Beach, CA


Mr. Tiny


  1. Love it! So many great pieces, especially that Jayne Mansfield one! Wish I could have gone to this while I was down there recently ;-( Thanks for sharing some fantastic photos though so I could pretend I was there!

    1. Thanks Elisa! I think you guys would have loved it!

  2. It is a fact that Jayne Mansfield was not decapitated, not quite, anyway, according to the autopsy reports. She only lost HALF her head, not the whole thing. The ultimate "migraine" headache! (the word 'migraine" is a corruption of "hemikranos" or "half a head", referring, presumably to the pain being like half your head is being sawn off)

    1. So should we say "death by scalping," or "demicapitation," or "half-cap?"

  3. Do you hear that? thats the sound of me kicking myself 37,000 times for missing this... the worst!

    also - what a gorgeous crew you have!!

    1. Thank you! But don't kick yourself 37,000 times!!! Not when one good, swift kick will do the trick...Hahaha!! Sorry, that you weren't able to see it!

  4. Replies
    1. So gross...unless you're into consumable scabs! Hahahaha!!!