A young girl with sparking green eyes and
a brunette ponytail is kneeling in front of an urn. Instead of planting flowers, she's attempting to grow a childlike penguin sitting atop a pink bunny atop a giraffe atop a blue sheep atop a kangaroo.
The image, "Ascent of Animals" by painter Matt Pasquarello, is just one of the 30 original works to be presented at the "Art Dorks Rise" exhibit, which opens Friday, Oct. 4. The group show at Space:Eight Gallery in downtown St. Augustine features 30 international artists from the Art Dorks Collective. It's also one of the largest contemporary art shows to arrive in Northeast Florida.
So just what is the Art Dorks Collective and why is it such a big deal? Back in 2004, Atlanta-based artist Brendan Danielsson started an online art blog called "Art Dorks." The site attracted a slew of like-minded lowbrow and surrealist artists who eventually banded together to organize group shows in several galleries across America. The term lowbrow art — also known as pop surrealism — is credited to Juztapoz magazine founder Robert Williams, who used the term to describe styles that were directly opposite of "highbrow" art, including art from hot-rod culture, punk rock, and graffiti and poster designs.
The blog shut down in 2006, but the group stayed together until its last show in 2008. The new "Art Dorks Rise" event in St. Augustine will be the first time the collective has shown together in more than five years. It features some of the original Art Dorks members as well as some newcomers.
Rob DePiazza, owner of Space:Eight Gallery, has been a fan of Danielsson's work since 2007, when he saw it featured in Hi-Fructose Magazine.
"I immediately knew I wanted to do a show with him, and we started communicating," DePiazza said. "Due to his schedule and us closing the gallery for a couple years due to construction, it wasn't until 2011, when I reopened the space, that we reconnected."
Over the past year, Danielsson and DePiazza tossed around ideas for a Northeast Florida-based event. "What began as a solo show turned into a small Atlanta-based group show which then morphed into the ‘Art Dorks Rise' show, once Brendan decided to resurrect the collective," DePiazza said.
Most artists from the second generation of Art Dorks are considered lowbrow, but DePiazza says the 30 original pieces to be exhibited are in a "plethora of styles, mediums and formats."
Danielsson, the creator of Art Dorks, produces work that mirrors a cast of carnival-like characters on very bad acid trips. There's "Randy," a blue-haired, silver-chain-wearing, gap-toothed guy who looks like he's drugged out on crystal meth. Then there's "Green," a melancholy woman in shades of emerald and jade whose face is unjustly sagging.
Other work featured in the show includes Aeron Alfrey's macabre imagery and Charles Glaubitz's illustrations influenced by myth, mysticism and quantum physics, as well as those of award-winning illustrator Kristian Olson, who creates both digital and traditional media that reflect an other-worldly sense of mystery and fear.
"I believe this to be the biggest collection of major new contemporary artists to ever display in Northeast Florida," DePiazza said. "I have to give credit to Brendan Danielsson for entrusting Space:Eight to host this exhibition, and I'm extremely humbled at the opportunity."
According to DePiazza, quite a few of the artists featured will be in attendance for the exhibition's Oct. 4 opening. There will also be music by DJ Damian Lee, and Bold City Brewery is on hand with some cold libations. The show, for which admission is free, runs through Nov. 30.
DePiazza is so excited about the show, he took out a full-page ad to promote it in Hi-Fructose Magazine, one of lowbrow art's premier publications.
"All of these artists are of big-name magnitude. They all are known internationally and have the accolades to back it up," he said. "I hope all of Northeast Florida art lovers take advantage of this chance to see the work of these amazing artists in person, as well as meet a number of the Dorks at the opening."
Star rain/Lluvia de estrella from charles glaubitz on Vimeo.