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Gallery 1988: LA's Temple of Cult Movie Art

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Gallery 1988 has been a fixture on LA’s pop art scene since Jensen Karp and Katie Cromwell opened the gallery on the corner of Melrose and La Brea in 2004. One of its most popular yearly shows is Crazy 4 Cult: Cult Movie Art—with fan art inspired by some the best-loved cult movies. Think Donnie Darko, The Big Lebowski, Rushmore, Clerks, A Clockwork Orange, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, etc.

To celebrate the first four years of the show, Gallery 1988 and Titan Books has just released the 176-page hardcover coffee table book Crazy 4 Cult: Cult Movie Art with an introduction by filmmaker Kevin Smith. Artists in the book include, Shepard Fairey, Shark Toof, Ruben Rude and more than 100 others.

We e-mailed Karp a few questions about the book, cult movies, the upcoming Crazy 4 Cult show (which opens next week), and posted a few of our favorite images, above, for your perusal.

How many works/designs did you include in the Crazy 4 Cult book? And how many did you have to choose from?

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JK: That's a good question. I don't even know. I know the book is around 87 pages long, but there are sometimes a bunch of pieces on one page. You kinda stumped me, mostly because we got a lot of art in that book! Considering we easily chose from around 500 pieces of art, you can understand how #1 it might be a tough job #2 we might not want to have to count or categorize any cult art for quite some time. It was a very tedious task, but we couldn't have asked for better looking pieces.

What was your selection process in curating the book?

JK: We worked hand in hand with Titan on curating the book. It was almost the March Madness of Cult Movie art. We would send lists back and forth and notes by email, and we curated it down to what you see today.

Do you have a favorite piece in the book?

JK: My favorite piece is also the only one hanging in my house, which is the Greg "Craola" Simkins Edward Scissorhands/Nightmare Before Christmas hybird [see image above]. When the idea for the show first popped in my head I imagined pieces just like that one. It seems like the blueprint now. Someone who can take their own style and vision and pay tribute to a source of inspiration in their artwork, which is a cult film or films. It just reminds me of the moment I realized, "I think other people might like this idea too."
What's your favorite cult movie?

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JK: My favorite movies all seem to be cult-driven in some way. I'm equally obsessed with Wet Hot American Summer (which are celebrating the 10th Anniversary of that movie with an art show in our Venice location right now actually), Albert Brooks's Defending Your Life and the Tom Hanks gem The Burbs. I once forced an artist to do a piece based on The Burbs, and I think we sold 5 copies. So....I'm a little hesitant to suggest Defending Your Life.

A lot of the art (and movies) in the book are very dude you think cult movies are a guy thing?

JK: I don't think so, only because we know we sell a lot of the art to girls. I think it might depict mostly men in the pieces, but we proudly sell to a lot of geek women very excited to see Office Space, Big Trouble in Little China or Neverending Story depicted in the Crazy 4 Cult art pieces. Dudes just might be quicker to wear nerdy shirts to display their pride. 
What can Angelenos expect to see in the upcoming Crazy 4 Cult 5 show (July 8-30)?

JK: We always say we don't show "fan art," we show "show artists who are fans." We have some brilliant pieces in this year's show, and with the release of the book, we're really celebrating the history of the show that started as an idea that was laughed at by established LA galleries, and now has a serious tradition in the city (and usually a serious crowd opening night). Also, Sunday, July 10th, at noon, we'll be holding the book release party, where a lot of the featured artists in the book will be in attendance to sign your copy of the book.