The Gallery of East Atlanta's Monster mash-up





The Gallery at East Atlanta Tattoo's group art shows continue to draw fans of the lowbrow style, the Monster Mayhem opening on Friday night proved. This show struck a particular chord, not only with the huge crowd that jammed the narrow gallery hallway and back-side patio but also shop/gallery owner Dirk Hays. "I've loved monsters since I was a kid," says Hays, who poured over copies of Creepy and Eerie magazines growing up in Opelika, Ala. This is the fourth show at the gallery, which opened last September. Ideally, Hays would like to have four big seasonal shows with four smaller ones dropped in between. But considering attendance at these events have gone from 300 to more than 500 (at April's Damn Dirty Ape show), don't be surprised if they do more. "More and more people are coming to check out these shows," Hays says.


The show was a happy mixed-bag of pop-surrealism, kitsch and color, once again tapping into a weirdly cool zeitgeist of the horror-movie culture that sprang from the 1930s movies and is revealing itself throughout this summer starting with Monster Bash at the Starlight Six Drive-In. The more than 50 artists blurred the lines between irony and authenticity at this show, particularly Buddy Finethy. By day the corporate artist for Mellow Mushroom, Finethy has a few other irons in the fire when he's off the clock, including his Atlanta GI Joe Collectors Club. On Friday, he showed off his "Thinking Man's Frank" acrylic on paper (pictured, at right), a making the tongue-in-cheeky connection between self-taught and more formalized art. Vinnie Blanco made a particular impression with his "Terror on the Beach" (pictured, above) in which two living-dead hot-rodders careen through a blood-splattered haze in their warped dune buggy, surf boards in tow. It's alternately scary and hilarious.

"Nobody else is showing this kind of art work in Atlanta, and that's the most gratifying thing I've heard from people who come to these shows," says Hays. "A lot of the people that come here seem to appreciate this imagery, this lowbrow, pop-surrealist stuff. The monster theme is a big part of the lowbrow culture."

The party outside was especially fitting, with a tatted-up bartender from Blastoff Burlesque making sure folks knew of their Aug. 2 Go West! show at Alcove Gallery, corn dogs courtesy of Pallookaville, and a heady mix of ska and rock tunes spun by Boss Jonezy from Southern Soul Sound System.

Monster Mayhem will be up on the walls through June 28. Gallery hours: Thursday-Saturday, 5-8 p.m. Next up: 4 on the Floor, featuring works by Jessica Elaine Blinkhorn, Dave MacDowell, Emma Mount and Brandi Read. The opening reception is Saturday, July 19, from 7-11 p.m.


(Photos by David Lee Simmons; for more photos, see the gallery below)


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