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Opening Night: “Melancholy Menagerie” at Fullerton Museum

Few images are more prevalent throughout art history than the eye, the window to the soul. The road that led to the popularity of the ‘big eyes’ style is not a straight one. “Melancholy Menagerie: A Gaze into the World of Big Eyes”, which opened this weekend at Fullerton Museum Center, archives its many twists and turns. While the source of this style can be argued, one thing is certain- it sparked a popular art culture internationally. Read more after the jump.

Few images are more prevalent throughout art history than the eye, the window to the soul. The road that led to the popularity of the ‘big eyes’ style is not a straight one. “Melancholy Menagerie: A Gaze into the World of Big Eyes”, which opened Saturday at Fullerton Museum Center, archives its many twists and turns. While the source of this style can be argued, one thing is certain- it sparked a popular art culture internationally.

The exhibition begins in the late 1950s and early 1960s, a time when portraits of highly stylized bug-eyed waifs by American artists Keane, Eden, and Lee became trendy. At the same time in Japan, a young Osamu Tezuka was studying Western design from Disney animators. Their techniques inspired him to create his famous big eyed characters like Astro Boy and Princess Knight. Tezuka’s work provided the foundation of anime and manga, an unprecedented contemporary movement, which found its way to America through mass distribution.

It is carried on by a new generation that includes exhibiting artists Tim Burton, Camille Rose Garcia (featured here), Sas Christian, Mark Ryden, Yosuke Ueno, Kelly Vivanco, Camilla d’Errico, Fawn Gehweiler, and more.  Coincidentally, Tim Burton is also working on a bio film about Margaret Keane’s artwork entitled “Big Eyes”. Their paintings appear alongside children’s toys such like Blythe and Pity Puppy dolls. On the inspiration behind his work, artist Yosuke Ueno said, “An adventurer makes his way without fully knowing what lies ahead. When I am working, I can’t even imagine the outcome, and then suddenly, see a brand-new, beautiful path.” The same can be said about the ‘path’ of a style.

“Melancholy Menagerie: A Gaze into the World of Big Eyes” is now on view at Fullerton Museum Center through July.


Curator Kelly Chidester with artist Yosuke Ueno.


Yosuke Ueno


Yosuke Ueno (detail)


Sas Christian


Kelly Vivanco with her work.


Kelly Vivanco


Tatiana Suarez


Sarah Joncas


Liz McGrath


Fawn Gehweiler


Pinkytoast (detail)


Camille Rose Garcia (detail)


Ana Bagayan and Matthew J. Price

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Hi-Fructose attended last night's premiere of Tim Burton's biopic, "Big Eyes" at the theatre at Ace hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. The premiere was also attended by leading actress Amy Adams, notable fans and gallerists including Mark Ryden, Marion Peck, Andrew and Shawn Hosner of Thinkspace Gallery, Greg Escalante of Copro Gallery, and Margaret Keane's own San Francisco based Keane Eyes Gallery, to name a few. "Big Eyes" chronicles the journey of Margaret Keane's popular big-eyed waifs, from humble beginnings to her abusive relationship with Walter Keane, who locked her in a studio and took credit for her art for years. Photos from the premiere after the jump!
We've just received a box of issues of Hi-Fructose Vol. 34 signed by cover artist Margaret Keane herself! We will be making these available on Thursday at noon PST in our online store. Hi-Fructose will donate 100% of the proceeds to UNICEF. Only 40 of these issues will be available for purchase, with a limit of two per person. Thanks very much to Margaret and the Keane Eyes Gallery for making this possible.
Our 34th volume of Hi-Fructose kicks off 2015 with a bang. We start off with the carpet sculptures of Faig Ahmed, then present the paintings of Joanne Nam, then delve into the public stick sculptures of Patrick Dougherty. We're proud to present Big Eyes icon Margaret Keane on the cover with an exclusive interview with the artist by Long Gone John and an introduction by Megan Besmirched! Also we're excited to offer a fantastic 16-page insert featuring the mixed-media works of Gary Taxali. Then we showcase Tricia Cline's amazingly strange and detailed sculptures, Jonathan Viner's paintings, and Floria Sigosmondi's photographs and exclusive interview. Then we revisit the assemblage sculptures of Kris Kuksi with a major feature showing his latest exhibition, plus the new William Mortensen book, Click Mort, and much more, all in one perfect bound issue! Pre-order the issue here and see a preview below.

In 2011, we went behind the scenes of Tim Burton's expansive retrospective at LACMA, where he described an exhibition as a place of "excitement, mystery, discovery, life, and death." His career is the inspiration behind "Nightmare in Wonderland", an ongoing show series entering into its second phase on April 11th at Distinction Gallery. A play on The Nightmare Before Christmas, the exhibition title refers to just the tip of the iceberg. The artists, which include newcomer Atsuko Goto (covered here), Yoko d'Holbachie (featured in Vol. 6 in 2007), Natalie Shau, Dan May, Kukula, Lola, Calvin Ma, Naoto Hattori, Scott Radke, and many more, have chosen to portray a large variety of Burton subjects.

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