Wishing All of My Readers a Beautiful Christmas!
Public Enemy — Kings of Hip Hop and inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — are now an Action Figure Play Set, that you can own! Featuring four of the central members from the 1980s; Terminator X, Chuck D, Flavor Flav and Professor Griff, imagine the fun urban adventures you could have with these guys! The highly-detailed figures were designed by comic book artist Ed Piskor, who wrote and illustrated Hip Hop Family Tree, a series of educational and historical comics which document the early history of hip hop culture. Available for just $60 (what a bargain) from Press-Pop Toys, Inc.
Photographed at Five Points Festival
I feel no shame admitting that I had stuffed animals on my bed into my thirties. Despite being a grown adult with a day job, I still love and collect toys, and I especially have a sick fetish for Designer Art Toys. This is why the annual Five Points Festival is my jam. Thanks to this awesome blog, I was able to score press passes once again to this year’s Five Points Fest, which took place the first weekend in June. Since Geoffrey is no longer on-the-scene, so to speak, I brought along my photographer and Partner in Squee, Jamie, and we spent about 5 or 6 hours trawling through hundreds of tiny toys and using the words “Cute” and “Adorable” about one hundred million billion times, each. Just being serious. While many designer toys are limited editions that can sell for hundreds of dollars, it is also possible find dozens of captivating art toys at Five Points Fest that can be yours for as little as $10 each. Please enjoy my photos of some of the toys that we found to be most squee-worthy, and you will see how easy it can be to build an affordable toy collection that adds joy to your life.
Do you like Buff Monster? I sure do. This Hot Pink version of his Mister Melty creation is a limited edition that was selling in the Clutter Magazine booth for about $275, I think. That sounds like a big chunk of change, but consider that this piece is also a highly-collectible work of art. Clutter is a generous sponsor of Five Points Fest so I want to give them a big Shout Out, right now!
These cute little guys are called Squash Buddies ($8 each) and, yes, they are scented! Top Trenz is the manufacturer and they were found in the PIQ booth.
PIQ is also where I discovered this shameless Pusheen rip-off series of Fat Cats called Meowchi, by Tasty Peach Studios of Japan. Don’t be fooled by imitations! Demand Pusheen!
Why did I take a picture of the box but not the toy? Clever Idiots, indeed. Sushi Cat sells for $7.99.
Hey look; more cats for you Cat Lovers! This slothful feline is part of the Lazily Sitting Cat Series by Vivi Cat. There are nine different poses to collect (9 Lives = 9 Cats) which sell for $12.50 each, and they are from Pop Mart toys.
More Five Points Action After the Jump!
JeongMee Yoon’s photograph, Jeeyoo and Her Pink Things (2007) from The Pink Project (2005 – ongoing) inspired this diorama of Pink Girls Toys, which provides a launching focal point the new exhibit, Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color up now at the Museum at FIT.
The idea that pink is for girls and blue is for boys is ubiquitous today. Already conspicuous in the 1950s, when it was part of an ideological push towards gender conformity, the pinkification of girl culture really took off in the late 1970s and 1980s.
I could have stood in front of this breathtaking Shrine to Pinkness forever.
Please enjoy a few more detail shots of this Pink-Lover’s Paradise!
Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color Will Be on Exhibit Through January 5th, 2019 at The Museum at FIT, Located at Seventh Avenue and 27th Street in NYC.
If you happen to be a fan of character-based, pop culture collectibles — which includes dozens of items encompassing such must-haves as enamel pins, plushies, art toys, limited edition / designer vinyl toys and action figures, monsters, model kits, art prints, novelties and seemingly endless subcategories of amazing swag — then the Five Points Festival, which took place in Greenpoint, Brooklyn over the weekend of June 2nd and 3rd, 2018 is the only place you want to be. There’s a lot to distill in this recap, so we are going to get right to it. If you weren’t at Five Points Fest, here is just some of what you missed!
You can’t really talk about Five Points Fest without at least mentioning Kidrobot, acknowledged worldwide as the premier manufacturer and retailer of limited edition art toys, signature apparel and lifestyle accessories. Their booth was crammed full of goodies like these pocket collectibles.
Artists Kathie Olivas and Brandt Peters have designed a new mini figure series called Dark Harbor, which Kidrobot manufacturers and distibutes. We’ve been fans of Kathie’s work forever, so these super cute little guys are fun to see!
Eric Althin’s Sad Salesman designer toy and vinyl collection started as a labor of love and has grown into a family of endearing characters inspired in part by Eric’s young son and daughter.
The Dessert Oracle came home with me to join my collection!
Eric’s Pink Astral Wizard (created in a now sold-out limited edition just for this show) also won Sad Salesman an award for Breakthrough Artist! Congratulations!
Jim McKenzie is a formerly New York-based artist who has enjoyed great success with his unique hybrid character creations such as the Pumpkin Crab, Racoonicorn and the Pugglepillar, as well as his adorable Scarecrow who is, literally, scared of crows. Jim recently relocated to live the dream out in Burbank, California so we were happy to catch up with him at Five Points Fest!
Jim painstakingly hand sculpts all of his creations.
He also does amazing digital paintings. Jim McKenzie!
Frank Ape is another character that has evolved from the street to the merchandise market thanks to the innovative vision of his creator, Brandon Sines.
Here is Geoffrey hanging out with Frank Ape on the exhibit hall floor. Hilarious.
Do you like Rock Stars? I get yer Rock Stars right here. Meet Matthew Lineham, who makes all kinds of wildly collectible merchandise featuring his own charicatures of famous rock stars from back when pop music did not yet suck. His shit is the shit.
Check out these David Bowie Valentine Cards, which are just insane.
If I was a person who still bought T Shirts, I would have to own this Halloween-themed Robert Smith design for sure. Twenty Bucks? What a bargain! I hope that you are doing a Google on Matthew’s website (M Lineham Art) right now because I am not going to make it easy for you by adding any hyperlinks to this post. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Husband a wife team Kelly and J. Spencer Shill work with both original and appropriated characters for their Jellykoe line of prints and soft toys. Do you like Uglydolls? Check out these out Mini Monsters that Kelly sews from Spencer’s original designs. Ugly Cuddly!
Ron Swanson Fans: this one needs to go in your TV room right now. And this Pennywise poster; just brilliant.
Move over, Barbie and make way for Pidgin, the fabulous creation of New York sculptor and doll maker Joshua David McKenney. A reinvention of the fashion doll, Pidgin is a medium for the language of style! All dolls begin life from an identical sculpt, and are then hand painted and styled by Joshua, so that no two are alike. The dolls have ball joints, so they’re fully posable and can be interacted and played with, as well as being a unique work of art!
If you were at the fabulous Ramones and the Birth of Punk Exhibit out at the Queens Museum a couple of years ago, then you may have seen the art of Naoshi, who created a very memorable Kawaii-influenced picture of the band!
Naoshi also works with sand (called Sunae in Japan) to create colorful tiny pictures, and makes enamel pins of her characters. Oh, the cuteness. You can find her shop on Etsy.
Five Points Festival proved to be an ideal place to pick up original paintings, drawings and other unique wall art that you’d otherwise have to scour dozens of galleries to find — if you could find them at all, because a lot of these guys are underground, baby!
Look at this cool and affordable Monster art by Justin Lieter! You can see the top of Justin’s head behind the number 5 on the Kewties sign!
Do you like Sharks? I sure do. This awesome grinning shark character is the signature creation of the street artist known as Sharpy. I think his work is just fantastic.
Chil Pepper (which, genius) is the creation of Mike Grossman and is part of his Goofy Froot series of anthropomorphic fruit characters. Yes, I just typed that.
Okay, how great is this unintentional homage to The Residents? An artist named Christian Hooker (real name? Likely not) took one of photographer Gene Korman’s most iconic images of Marilyn Monroe ever, photoshopped out her face and replaced it with a giant, flame-encircled eyeball. It is so many kinds of brilliant.
Many of the artists in attendance participated in a Live Painting Event, where each artist created an original spray paint artwork on-the-fly!
Here are Chris RWK and Jim McKenzie in action!
Here are Chris and Jim again, a little bit farther along!
It was fun to watch the artists paint while enjoying tasty snacks from a selection of food trucks, like these mini donuts from Glazed and Confused!
All the paintings were auctioned off, with all proceeds going to benefit Planned Parenthood! Excellent!
We saw many very cool examples of toys and other merchandise made via the magic of 3D Printing, such as these adorable little planters from Meow 3D Printing! Check out the Pink Hedgehog!
You’ve seen his Batman Buddha on Worley Gig before, but were you aware that the artist known as 3D Mucky Chris has created an entire universe populated with Buddha-fied versions of many of your favorite sci-fi characters? It’s true!
The Tardigrade is an actual Living Thing That Exists, and now DoomCo Designs have created a Tardigrade character for all of you Tardi-fans. His name is Tarbus and he comes in variety of colors and two sizes!
Big Ten Inch Tarbus!
Tardi-great is more like it!
Here’s a bunch of other random stuff we liked enough to snap a photo (or two). Enjoy!
Is this the cutest thing in the universe or what? Presenting Mister Self Indulgence (Cherry Flavor edition) by Nouar (Martian Toys).
Mister Self Indulgence (a cherry pie with a chubby-cheeked grin who is poised to eat a slice of his own head) is a soft vinyl figure and he comes accompanied by his friend Lil’ Scoopy, who is a dish of ice cream. So cute, I can’t even live.
I am dead now, from the cuteness.
Artist Nick C. Kirk made this Pink Wookie character based on his photo of an actual Cosplayer whose likeness can be seen on the box.
GWAR Comics. I am speechless.
Topic: The Japanese have too much time on their hands. Discuss.
“Do Not Eat Me.”
Since art toy obsession is a legitimate lifestyle, you need some accessories to help you rock the look, amiright? KT Ferris Creations (#ThisShitBlinks) is a line of handcrafted Jewelry featuring hyperrealist doll eyes that open and close with the movement of the jewelry. Lovely and Disquieting!
We like these handbags by Marzipan Physics! Stylish!
Do you like Monsters? I got yer Monsters right here. This guy is called Mr. Death (2nd color Version) designed by Rockin’ Jelly Bean for their Freaky Monster Village series (sold by Black Book Toys).
Here’s a Pink Monster from Lonely Monster Toys By Elliot Lobell.
Zombie Alex from InstincToy is due for release in October 2018.
I don’t know this little guy’s name, but he looks like some kind of Monster Travelling Salesman, and he is just fantastic-looking! I found him at the booth for Mothership Toy Gallery.
Mummy Spice Version of King Creepy By Richard Strohmeyer.
One-of-a-Kind Figures by Emilio Subira (those that did not sell at Five Points Fest are available online from Mothership Toy Gallery).
I am pretty sure this Pirate Dude is called Captain Sturnbrau and he is by JPK, which are the initials of toy designer Jon-Paul Kaiser. Aaargh!
Before I forget, I must give a shout out to Five Points Festival’s primary sponsor, Clutter, which is the world’s premier magazine and media source for Designer Toys, and the originator of the Designer Toy Awards, as well as having a gallery dedicated to art toys, and doing custom manufacturing on-demand!
Thanks to Clutter for all that they do to support the community! See you next year for another rad Five Points Festival!
Whether you’re seeing his colorful works out on the street, or in the gallery, Kenny Scharf has one of the most instantly recognizable styles in the contemporary art world. Deitch Projects downtown is currently hosting Inner and Outer Space, an ambitious exhibit of Sharf’s newest works which features several distinct collections that provide evidence of Scharf’s enthusiasm for expanding his oeuvre, while staying true to the playful characteristics of his work that his fans love the most.
You can get a hint of what you’re in for before you even stop inside the gallery
The faces are melting in Kenny Scharf’s new paintings. “Things are disintegrating,” says the artist. “I am reacting to our increasingly out-of-control situation.” Scharf’s work continues to be infused by his inexhaustible optimism and his sense of fun, but there has always been an engagement with profound issues beneath the façade. Ecology, the environment, and capitalist excess have long been central themes.
Kenny Scharf’s work has always combined and contrasted the pop culture he absorbed growing up in Los Angeles with the important innovations in modern and contemporary art. His earlier work fused Dali and Disney. More recently, he has been in dialogue with Pollock and Abstract Expressionism. In the new work, he merges his distinct style with color field and stain painting. “I like to connect with every movement in 20th-century art,” Scharf explains. “I make new hybrids, taking it all in and putting it in a blender.”
Scharf is very enthusiastic about his new “sloppy style” that characterizes the major paintings in the exhibition. Rows of faces disintegrate into colorful drips reminiscent of both New York School painting and the serial imagery of minimal art. In these new works, Scharf is striving to create clear and simple forms that resonate with meaning. He feels liberated and excited, adding that “it is so much fun.”
Like his artistic colleagues from his early years in New York, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, Scharf studied cartoons as a way to intensify figurative expression. He makes use of cartoon faces to express emotion with abstract power.
In the past, Kenny found many of the items integrated into his art in the garbage,and even today he still stops his car when he finds plastic toys and TV sets thrown away on the street. These discarded plastic objects have inspired the two other bodies of work featured in the show, one being TV Bax.
The TV Bax are painted on the plastic backs of discarded television sets. Like the toys, the TV backs have a disconcerting anthropomorphic quality. Scharf wonders if their anonymous designers created these plastic covers, which are different for every model, to resemble a face.
Scharf finds these thrown-away toys and TV backs to be poignant objects, resonant with emotion. “Each of these objects carries a story,” Scharf explains. He thinks about how people might have struggled and sacrificed to buy these toys and TVs, and about the intense relationship that children and families have with them. Scharf resurrects the lives of these inanimate objects in his work. He also notes that garbage keeps changing with technology. The backs of TV sets used to have large protruding “noses.” Now they are flatter and more similar to a canvas.
Another new collection, his Assemblage Vivant Tableaux Plastiques, inspired by the Nouveau Realistes, are constructed from his stock of recycled plastic toys. These wall sculptures, which mix assorted toy parts with Scharf’s whimsical animated faces, are my favorite items in the exhibit.
Since his childhood, Scharf has been fascinated by outer space. Space travel and the portrayal of infinite space have long been central themes. In his life and in his work, he tries to eliminate boundaries and borders. As he pursues his dialogue with the great painters of the New York School, he is increasingly preoccupied with the inner space of painting. His exploration of inner space creates a dynamic tension with his passion for outer space. With his characteristic exuberance and his moral voice, Scharf reformulates his unique combination of Pollock and Pop to create a vibrant new body of work.
Kenny Scharf’s Inner and Outer Space will be on Exhibit Through December 22nd, 2017 at Deitch Projects, Located at 18 Wooster Street (Just North of Canal) in NYC.
The Goldberg Company (those responsible for the original 1978 Dolly Parton doll) fashioned an impressive set of four Divine character dolls in 1984. While the full line was on shelves in time for Christmas, most never made it under the tree. Most units were left unsold, even after being discounted as much as 90%. Goldberg was banking on Divine’s disco career creating the necessary interest to sustain the line, but it was an appeal that did not translate in the toy department.
It appeared that American girls under 12 were not ready for this kind of Barbie, which is unfortunate given Goldberg’s future plans to add six more figures to the line.
Upcoming fictionalized Divine characters included Astronaut Divine, Party Girl Divine, Divine as Shirley Temple, President Divine, Waitress Divine (Dawn Davenport) and Surf’s Up Divine.
Photographed as Part of the Lost Merchandise of the Dreamlanders Exhibit at La MaMa Galleria in NYC.
This mesmerizing kinetic art sculpture by Italian Artist Walter Rossi can be observed from the first floor front window of the Agora Gallery, located at 530 West 25th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.
Since 2000, Rossi has been working in kinetic art. He animates action toys and other found items by using a magnetic motor. The results are like theatrical presentations; often very funny and profound at the same time. I could watch them fly around all day long!
For his mixed media assemblage, Koh-i-Noor (2005) Hew Locke (Scottish, born 1959) arranged thousands of cheap plastic toys and trinkets — disposable products of the new global economy — into one edition of a series of portraits of Queen Elizabeth II (entitled the House of Windsor Series), one of which was among the most extraordinary works in the Museum’s exhibition, Infinite Island: Contemporary Caribbean Art (2007). Locke, born in Scotland but raised in Guyana, created these works in response to ethnic tensions within contemporary British society, often growing out of Great Britain’s colonial history, with that history now brought home to Britain.
The title of this Silver work from the portrait series refers to the Koh-i-Noor (“Mountain of Light”) diamond, once the largest in the world. Mined several thousand years ago, this uncut Indian treasure passed through the hands of many regional rulers and was likely cut during the seventeenth century, before ultimately being seized by Britain in 1849 in the name of Queen Victoria. The series also includes a Golden sculpture entitled El Dorado, and a Black edition entitled Black Queen.