David Sandlin's road to damnation is studded with pit stops -in the Biblical sense- from adultery and avarice to venality and zealotry, and he's happy to lead you on your way in this lyric paean to southern gothic guilt, shown here for the first time in New York.
In one long, continuous room-circumnavigating drawing, Sandlin takes you on a journey of alphabetic depravity, relating a tale of jealousy, murder, and-well, you just have to come and see-all in lilting iambic pentameter:
"Our acme of ardor, was it only a fable, Was it the adultery and avarice that made it unstable Like a television soap opera coming over the cable?"
The Alphabetical Ballad of Carnality, the latest installment of Sandlin's sprawling epic series "A Sinner's Progress," is perhaps his wittiest. This flowing cycloramic drawing, over 60 feet long, depicts thirty-two images in sin-drenched color illustrating one man's sordid spiral into depravity. Every letter of the alphabet gets titillating, tongue-twisting treatment in rhyme as each luridly illustrated image seamlessly segues to the next. Sandlin's love of inventive language, especially puns, finds full expression here, tracing a lineage to traditions for which he claims a congenital affinity: Irish literature and American country music.
Looming above Sandlin's adults-only abecedary and backlit in lurid barroom lights is a frieze of wooden cutouts, Hangover Hollow. A bestiary of tortured creatures caper and prance across the walls, gleefully playing off the human drama unfolding in the drawing below.
The drawing exhibited here is the original artwork for Sandlin's 2006 book, published by Fantagraphics Books, in Seattle, Washington. Steven Heller, in his review in the New York Times, called the book a "comically grotesque series of disturbingly funny tableaus about the upside of eternal damnation, filthy lucre, and masochistic mendacity."
David Sandlin's paintings, prints, books, and installations have been exhibited extensively in New York and elsewhere across the United States, Europe, Japan, and Australia. His comics and paintings have appeared in Blab!, The Ganzfeld, Hotwire, Raw, and many other graphic venues. He is a recipient of grants from the Pollock Krasner Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Penny McCall Foundation, among others. An instructor at the School of Visual Arts in New York, Sandlin was also the 2007-2008 Lamar Dodd Professorial Chair at the University of Georgia.
Kim Deitch: A Retrospective will display original comics pages and other work covering the artist's entire career to date, beginning with full-page comic strips drawn for the East Village Other in 1967 up to recent graphic novels including The Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Alias the Cat, Shadowland, and Deitch's Pictorama. The exhibit will also feature rarely seen work including elaborate preparatory drawings, hand-colored originals, lithographs and other prints.
Kim Deitch was born in Los Angeles in 1944, the eldest son of Oscar-wining animator Gene Deitch (Tom Terrific, Munro). Deitch studied at the Pratt Institute, traveled with the Norwegian Merchant Marines and worked at a mental institution before joining the burgeoning underground press in 1967. As an early contributor to the East Village Other and the editor of Gothic Blimp Works, Kim Deitch was among the first members of the underground comix scene that would explode with the 1968 publication of Robert Crumb's Zap #1. Forty years later, he stands alongside Crumb, Bill Griffith, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, and Art Spiegelman as one the most notable and consistently prolific artists to emerge from that milieu. In addition to his comic books and graphic novels, Deitch's work has appeared in such venues as RAW, Weirdo, Arcade, Details, the L.A. Weekly, McSweeney's, Nickelodeon Magazine, and The New Yorker.
"Kim Deitch's career spans the post-war history of avant-garde comics," said curator Bill Kartalopoulos. "And throughout it he brilliantly weaves vast intergenerational narratives that enfold a deep history of American popular entertainment, from the past to the present and into the fantastic outer reaches of his meta-fictional universe. Distinctions between fiction and reality blur in Deitch's work just as real madness bleeds into the visions and schemes of the artists, entertainers, and hustlers who populate his world. The result is a rich narrative tapestry as compelling and breathtaking as Deitch's densely layered, tightly woven, and intricately detailed black and white comics pages."
Deitch's body of work stretches outward from comics to embrace a spectrum of visual-narrative modes, including extra-textual single images and illustrated prose modeled after Victorian illustrated fiction. His most recent book is Deitch's Pictorama, a collection of illustrated fiction produced in collaboration with brothers Seth and Simon Deitch. The exhibit will highlight Deitch's career-long experimentation with text/image modes.
MoCCA will publish an original poster and 1" button featuring Deitch's artwork in association with the exhibit. The Museum will also host a series of talks and events related to the exhibit. For more information please visit: http://www.moccany.org
Please join us at MoCCA on September 12th to celebrate Kim Deitch; A Retrospective. The artist will be present and refreshments will be served!".
Event: Kim Deitch: Opening Reception "Free and open to the public" What: Opening Host: Kim Deitch: A Retrospective Start Time: Friday, September 12 at 6:00pm End Time: Friday, September 12 at 9:00pm Where: MoCCA: The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art
I'll let the images speak for themselves except to say that everybody and everything was delightful and wonderful. I've said this before, but it bears repeating: what a great month it's been to be a graphic novel fan in Seattle.
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