Our own Senior Art Correspondent (aka featured artist) Ben Jensen (aka Way Bad) was on-hand at the One Foot On A Banana Peel art show in Chicago last Friday night, so we asked him how it went – and we got more than we bargained for. Ben was cool enough to give us the full scoop on all the talent as well as hook us up with some swell photos of the action from Ian Vecchiotti. As we posted last week, the show was a massive gathering for DIY artists from far and wide, artfully curated by fellow-artist and Chicago resident Luke Pelletier. Anyway, enough shit talking, let’s turn it over to Ben for some art #knowledge.
Hey, internet! I’m Ben Jensen, a super rich, successful and famous artist that you already know and love. Right now, I’m part of a group art show in Chicago called One Foot On A Banana Peel. It was curated by Luke Pelletier and features drawings, paintings, prints, video installations, murals and more from 19 different miscreants, I mean artists, most of it with a heavy focus on partying and skateboarding. Opening night was Friday, November 22nd, 2013 at the Co-Prosperity Sphere in Chicago. I heard there was gonna be free beer, so my wife Nina and I dropped well over a grand on planes, hotels, and a crippling burrito habit to cash in.
So, we went all the way from our home in freezing cold Ottawa, Canada to freezing cold Chicago, Illinois (a town I gotta admit I’d never heard of before this show) for the opening night. And Dopamine 36 has asked me to take YOU there with me – and I will – through the magic…of WORDS (you can’t see me right now, but I’m dramatically flourishing my hand over my intense gaze, and it’s completely mystifying and enchanting you). Grab hold of my robe and let’s go!
It took a while for us – me, my wife (sorry, ladies and gay dudes) and her two friends from Providence – to find the gallery cause the robot lady on the GPS was obviously getting paid by the 90E and was CONSTANTLY trying to put us on that highway, even when we were like two blocks from the place.
We finally knew we found it though when we came to the building whose front windows boasted an insanely rad gorilla/skulls/skateboards/bananas mural Luke Pelletier and Austin England double-banged out for the show. There’s an old saying about pictures being worth more than words, and this is it: “Words are for nerds, let’s look at photos on the internet instead.” That said, here’s a photo of the mural:
I didn’t think things could get any better than that mural, so I considered just leaving right then and there to catch an early flight home, but I had to pee, so I went inside the gallery. The washrooms were in the back left corner, and each offered a choice of toilet or urinal. I went urinal this time, but made a mental note to also try the toilet before I left. I found the washrooms clean and orderly, and had no trouble figuring out which was the sink and which was the toilet (something I end up getting wrong about 95% of the time). I knew I was gonna be covering this for Dopamine 36, so I made a note that the soap was a nice, fresh scent, but I forgot to track down the owner and find out EXACTLY what it was. Sorry, gentle readers.
Time to check out the art. Even though the show had a whopping 19 artists in it, everything definitely seemed to fit together. Similar themes – skateboarding, tattoos, daggers, pizza, beer, skulls, palm trees – snaked their way through most of the pieces. But not all: Miles Jackson’s hyper-detailed, pen and ink Edward Gorey-ish pieces; Dillon Froelich’s swollen-limbed figure paintings; Nathan Brown’s vividly colored, sculpturesque paintings;
John F. Malta’s angular, bank robber cartoon characters; Alex Bradley Cohen and Katie Kimmel’s ’80s pop-art-style sculpture/mural installation; and Bryan Peterson’s psyche-y video installations all playing simultaneously on stacked TVs were all exceptions.
I’m always stoked to see Jeff Kubasak’s to-the-point, pun-heavy pieces, and his little paintings of curb cuts and painted parking blocks made for some satisfying spot porn for the skaters in the crowd.
Tim Olson of Tim and Eric fame – no, not of FAMOUS Tim and Eric fame; of NOT famous Tim and Eric fame; the ones sponsored by Michael Sieben’s Roger Skateboards) – was there with his pieces: renditions of classic ’80s skate decks re-imagined to star an orange cat (in frames made from old skateboards by Nate Joski). Seeing the detail and fine brushwork on those tiny things in person was mind-blowing.
You might be familiar with Austin England’s stuff, especially since the ramp mural he did for Brooklyn Projects has been lurking in plenty of recent photos of pro skaters shredding. The batch of stuff he had in this show was no departure, and it was some of my favorite stuff I’ve seen by him.
Brad Rohloff’s pen and ink drawings of ghosts and knives and his trademark creepy hands with the impossibly long fingers got me stoked.
Michael Hsiung’s fat bearded dudes made an appearance, Two Dudes One Board style. It was awesome to see one of his pieces in person.
Teddy Kelly had a couple big pieces in there; both were nice vivid, geometric beach scenes featuring boobs (Crowd-pleasers).
Yarrow Slaps had some of his folk-art-y character pieces in there, and he also dipped into the pun bag (‘Iceberg Slim’ was the title of a painting of a real skinny iceberg).
Suzi Kemp had some rad prints with ghosts, skulls, apples, and snakes. My wife meant to buy the one with the coffee pot before we left, but she forgot. Bummer.
Sheryo and The Yok (both of King Brown Magazine) each had an intricate, funny, vacation-and-horror themed ink piece.
And obviously, Luke Pelletier had an entire WALL of productivity. He had what must’ve been 20-pieces of his trademark super-colorful island vacation/pattern/cinder block-oriented paintings on riveted canvas (so he can stretch it out without losing any surface space to the back of a frame). His pieces featured some slogans I love like ‘everyone has a hard time paying the rent,’ ‘everybody hits every single red light,’ and ‘I heard you got that job.’ My favorite piece of his was the devil riding the jet ski.
Oh yeah, and there were eight pieces of mine in there, too. I don’t really feel the need to describe them. Just imagine the BEST ART you have ever seen in your life and we’ll call it a day.
Everybody’s art was so awesome, I can only assume what happened was: when everyone found out they were gonna be sharing walls with the great Ben Jensen, they frantically stepped their game up.
The show was rad, there was free beer, free zines, a good turnout, I got to meet some dudes I’d only known from the internet before, and I got to take shelter from the brutal, Chicago-in-November cold.
And that’s the end of my write-up. If you’re in Chicago, all that shit’s gonna still be up at the Co-Prosperity Sphere (3219-21 S Morgan St) for a little while longer, so go check it out. And by ‘check it out’ I mean ‘buy my stuff.’
END ARTICLE (All photos by Ian Vecchiotti)
(Ben Jensen (center) with his wife Nina (left) and show curator and fellow PBR enthusiast Luke Pelletier)
Check out the video re-cap of the event below: