If you're a resident of the Los Angeles area and a horror fan, then no doubt you're familiar with the Hyaena Gallery located at 1928 Olive Avenue over in beautiful Burbank, California. In the last several years, the gallery along with it's stable of artists have made a name for themselves not only for their unique dark art, but for paying tribute to all the things we love about the horror genre. When they're not showcasing original pieces from their roster of artists, they sometimes focus on theme specific shows such as the 'Scream' exhibit and the 'Psycho' legacy shows they've hosted in prior years back. But right now, for the entire month of March, they're paying tribute to one of the horror director greats. Wes Craven.
"The Wes Craven tribute exhibit was actually something I've been wanting to do at the gallery for quite some time," explains Hyaena Gallery owner and curator Bill Shafer. "I grew up on 70s and 80s horror and Wes' films are a huge part of what I enjoy in the genre. His early films especially, like 'The Last House on the Left' and 'The Hills Have Eyes,' were so raw, gritty and disturbing. You can't watch those movies and remain unscathed, and I've always gravitated to that type of storytelling. They definitely influenced what I look for in art of any media and have helped shape Hyaena. Wes was kind enough to include art from many of our artists in 'Scream 4,' (for the "Stab-a-thon" sequence that takes place in the barn) even allowing us to do an art exhibit of these pieces before the film's premiere. That was such a boost for the gallery and really helped all of the artists involved. How do you repay that kind of generosity? I figured the best way would be to show through art how much his work has influenced the Hyaena community. We kept it a bit on the downlow, without too much advertising, because we wanted everyone, even Wes, to be surprised by what we put together."
And what the artists have put together is truly remarkable and special. One glance at the gallery's back wall and you'll spot just about all of Craven's filmography represented including 'Music Of The Heart!' Collectors will have to act fast if they want to snag original pieces inspired by 'The Serpent & The Rainbow,' 'Swamp Thing,' 'Shocker,' 'Cursed,' or (one of my personal favorites) 'Deadly Friend.' There's plenty of love for 'The Last House On The Left,' 'The Hills Have Eyes' and of course for Freddy Krueger with a handful of pieces created as a tribute to Wes' most famous film 'A Nightmare On Elm Street.' FEARNET caught up with a few of the artists to ask why they picked the Craven movie they did for this event.
D.W. Frydendall: "I chose to paint Pluto from 'The Hills Have Eyes' because when I was a kid I saw this movie for the first time and the idea of it was so terrifying it was almost taboo to watch. My brothers and I used to quote the film all of the time referring to each other as "Papa Jupe" or "Pluto." I also have always wanted to paint Michael Berryman. He's one of my favorite genre stars."
Chet Zar: "I remember seeing 'A Nightmare On Elm Street' for the first time in 1984 when I was 15 or 16 years old. I saw a tiny ad in the newspaper for it (pre internet days!) and just that creepy font in the ad was enough to get me curious. There were no reviews yet and I hadn't really heard anything about it, so I got my dad to take me to go see it. Needless to say, I was completely blown away! It was such a dark and gritty but also a highly creative film - it really felt like it was made just for a kid like me. And that's what good art does; it makes a connection with it's audience. Also, Freddy was creepy as hell. I think he was an influence on my future career as a fine artist as you can see it in my work today; lots of dark figures with hats. And it definitely was one of the films that kept me interested in becoming a make up effects artist. Being able to create a painting of Freddy was a real treat for me and also a reminder of the major influences from my childhood that have helped make me be the artist I am today. Thanks, Wes!"
Clint Carney: "So many of Wes Craven’s films have had a huge impact on my life. Take one step into my home and you’ll see how true that is. 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' was one of the first movies that I really latched onto as a kid, and it fueled my love for all things horror. Freddy Krueger was at his scariest in the first film and so I wanted to capture the essence of his look from that one. I feel very honored to be able to pay tribute to such a great filmmaker who inspired so much of what I do."
Craven himself made a surprise appearance for the opening reception this past Saturday night, March 8th and was overwhelmed and humbled by the entire exhibit. So much so that he bought a few pieces himself including Carney's Freddy pictured above and a sculpture by Cig Neutron. And while Wes himself has shown a tremendous amount of support for the Hyaena Gallery, Shafer singled out Skip Crank, a fellow artist and prop master that has worked on a handful of Craven's films as being the one to put to gallery on Wes' radar in the first place. "Skip worked with Wes for many years and is a favorite artist that we show here at Hyaena. He was responsible for talking to Wes about the exhibit and getting his blessing. Wes was fantastic through the entire process; encouraging and generous. He even signed a number of items for us to help us out. He came to the opening reception and seemed to have a great time, socializing and taking pictures with fans. He was even kind enough not to criticize the shitty wine we served him."
Despite a good chunk of the commissioned art already being sold to the general public, all of the pieces will remain on display at Hyaena Gallery until the end of March. So be sure to make a trip to Burbank to see them for yourself. We've got a picture gallery below but it truly doesn't do justice to the art until you're standing right in front of it. And if you head over the the Hyaena website, they're already teasing next month's art exhibit titled "All Outta Bubblegum." Could next month at Hyaena Gallery be a tribute to another "master of horror?" You'll just have to head over there to find out!
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