On Saturday, June 23rd, Phone Booth Gallery premiered an incredible new exhibit, “A Distant Winter”. This three-person exhibition features all new work from the minds of Ken Taylor, Martin Ansin and Rich Kelly, each of whom contributed a series of limited edition prints, and original paintings. All three artists were in attendance and to be completely honest, it was an amazing evening.
The exhibition conjures up images of frigid terrains, risk-taking and adventure. Melbourne-based artist Ken Taylor, a prolific illustrator and designer, makes exquisitely detailed, bold fantasy and merges his interest in the otherworldly with his interest in nature. Flora and fauna appear in his renderings of stoic heroines, who look like mythic beings from a fantastic future.
Martin Ansin’s smart graphics, which have recently appeared in Rolling Stone and The New Yorker collapse whole stories into single, simple and striking scenes. For this show, he muses about the Alaskan wilderness through a triptych in which red billowing flags and futuristic vehicles interrupt an expanse of wintery white ground. Figures in heavy red and white uniforms prepare to launch their sleek machines.
Rich Kelly, whose highly stylized, comic comments on pop culture often appear in posters for bands like Flight of the Concords or the Hold Steady, considers iconic adventurers, particularly Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. The two men were the first to set foot conclusively on the peak of Mount Everest. Despite constant public debate over which of the two was really first to the top and a few public disagreements over what actually happened in the last leg of the climb, Hillary and Norgay remained friends for life.
Thus, “A Distant Winter” weaves together multiple ideas of distance, closeness and coldness. Factual circumstances coexist with imaginary ones and the careful artistry of Taylor, Ansin and Kelly is as cool as any expanses of white snow could ever be.
Rich Kelly’s muted color palette and slanted, historic perspective fit perfectly as it was sandwiched between the bold, rich red, black and blue of Ken Taylor and Martin Ansin’s futuristic renderings. As impressive as the prints are it was breath-taking to see their original works. I found myself looking at each one over and over and each time I would find something new that would catch my attention and boost my appreciation even further.
Each artist was beyond accommodating with their time. They signed every print fans brought, took pictures and engaged everyone they came in contact with. Gallery owner Garry Booth and his staff helped make the event a massive success with their friendly demeanor and constant communication to the masses as we huddled eagerly outside the gallery. Personally I got there at 3:30 and didn’t leave until 10 but the time flew by. I was fortunate enough to purchase the Martin Ansin set and I am extremely excited to get it framed as I have already cleared off some wall space.
The exhibition will remain on view through July 24, 2012, at Phone Booth Gallery, (2533 East Broadway, Long Beach, CA 90803,Wednesday-Saturday 12-5pm 562.415.8822) and on Phone Booth Gallery’s website. I HIGHLY recommend that you go see it in person. The art is incredible and despite how incredible it looks on the website, the web just doesn’t do it justice. Ya gotta go see it in person.