This weekend, at Los Angeles’ Gallery 1988, one of our very favorite places to get exceptional pop culture art, The Art Awakens, a show dedicated to the world of Star Wars, takes over. The show features 88 artists contributing pieces inspired by the adventures that took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. And what’s more, the proceeds go to charity, part of the larger Force for Change initiative that has been a part of Star Wars: The Force Awakens since the very beginning.
We were there at the opening night reception for the show, and it was a total blast. Not only was it amazing to see all of the original artwork that so many wonderful artists came up with, but it was nice to say hello to the artists themselves, including Truck Torrence, who creates adorable pieces under the 100% Soft moniker (he also created all those nifty emjois that are part of the Star Wars app) and Nan Lawson, whose delicate pieces we adore (her piece for the show is really cool too). J.J. Abrams, director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and executive producer of Episode VIII, was walking around taking a look at the pieces, and Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (as well as The Force Awakens and the upcoming Han Solo-centered film) was also mingling happily with the crowd.
As we were leaving, a lovely woman who identified herself as artist Mark Englert’s mother stopped us. “You bought my son’s painting!” she exclaimed. When we introduced ourselves and told her what a huge fan of her son’s we were (and, really, we are), she told us she’d text him and say hello for us. It perfectly exemplified the spirit of the evening – fans and filmmakers and artists and artists’ mothers, all out to enjoy and celebrate Star Wars, a series of films that still inspire, endlessly, after all these years, and whose future films are proving just as exciting.
These were our five favorite pieces of the show, which will be up at Gallery 1988 until the end of the weekend (with extended hours each night). Remember to check out the eBay auction, for originals and prints, which will run into December.
Eric Tan is an incredibly talented artist who works, daily as a designer of all things Star Wars (including the packaging for all the super cool Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys). Tan said that the inspiration for his piece was watching a documentary on how George Lucas was inspired by the films of Akira Kurosawa when crafting the original trilogy. Tan took this inspiration to heart, and created an awesome, samurai-like piece for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, complete with Japanese lettering. This is one of the prints you can only get at the gallery, and it’s worth it – big, bold and beautiful. It’s one of our favorite prints Tan has ever done, which is really saying something.
This is the piece we took home (that Englert’s mom noticed), inspired by the end of The Empire Strikes Back, with Luke hanging upside down on a Cloud City platform and the Millennium Falcon coming to rescue him. The piece is done in Englert’s painterly, super-widescreen style (that still fits in an easily buyable 24” x 36” frame), and fits nicely alongside similar images he’s done for the original film and Return of the Jedi. It’s just so, so beautiful and a testament to Englert’s singular power. This is another one of the pieces that you can only get by going to the show this weekend, as if you needed another incentive.
True story: there’s an entire wall in our apartment dedicated to the work of Andrew De Graff and his “paths” series of prints, which represent the maneuvers of certain characters through an entire film (or series of films). His newest, “Paths of Jedi and Sith,” might be his most jaw-dropping yet. The massive print charts the paths of 11 characters over the course of the original six films (the helpful key is De Graff’s own), is absolutely brilliant, emphasizing not only the series’ various locations but also the generational aspect to the films. It’s mind-blowing. You can pre-order this print if you go to the show this weekend and it will be delivered in mid-December, and you should definitely do that because it is totally awesome. Looks like we’ll have to make wall on the wall for this one.
Scott C. is one of our favorite artists. We love his playful style that is both streamlined and totally intricate; even when he’s inspired by darker material, he always makes it whimsical, hilarious and fun, without ever being cloying or cutesy. When we ran into Scott at New York Comic Con, we asked him about his piece for the upcoming Art Awakens show. He told us it had something to do with Stormtroopers and that it was one of his favorite things he’d ever done. Well, now that it’s out, it does center on the villainous Stormtroopers (tons of them) and it is one of the best things he has ever done. This is one of the prints that you can get on eBay. Boy oh boy is it awesome.
Well, somebody had to do it, and we’re glad it’s Kiersten Essenpreis, whose hilarious artwork and inventive pop culture-inspired jewelry we really love. “Bowling with BB-8” is exactly what you’d expect it to be: it’s Rey sending everyone’s favorite adorable spherical droid down a bowling alley. We love Rey’s pose, with the professional bowling stance, and the simplicity of the piece (the original is currently up for bidding on eBay). This is one of the freshest, funniest pieces in the whole show and we absolutely adore it.