Since the opening of it’s first exhibit in March of 2012, which featured sci-fi based pieces, Mondo has been churning out a steady stream of exhibits from their Austin-based gallery space. With each new show, Mondo Gallery has continued it’s success at staking it’s claim as one of the preeminent producers of pop-culture artwork.
Since the beginning, the gallery has incorporated original pieces of art like paintings and pencil & ink drawings, to go along with their usual screen printed and giclee poster releases. However, over the last few years, more and more of these original art pieces have found a place amongst the walls at each show. This past year, Mondo took a leap of faith and opened their first exhibit featuring only original paintings: Jason Edmiston’s Eyes Without A Face. The enormous success of that show was refreshing and seems to have given Mondo Gallery the confidence to keep attempting more of these unique concepts, including this past July’s exhibit, Sonny Day’s Mind Intern. With their newest exhibit, opening this Friday, November 13th, Mondo is opening up possibly their most ambitious exhibit to date.
Originals: A Fine Art Show will showcase a talented roster of artists tackling completely original concepts of their own choosing. To find out more about how the show came together, and what we can expect when the exhibit opens on Friday, I spoke with Mondo Co-Founder and Creative Director Mitch Putnam.
Nerdlocker (NL): So, this Friday brings us the opening of the newest Mondo Gallery exhibit, Originals: A Fine Art Show. This is the first show of it’s kind since you opened the gallery, in that the entire gallery will be showcasing both prints and original art focused not on pop-culture licensed work, but original art from some of Mondo’s best artists. Was this an idea that came up recently, or has this been somethingyou’ve wanted to do since the beginning of the gallery?
Mitch Putnam (MP): It’s been an idea that has been on my mind since we started. We absolutely love doing pop culture shows, but we also acknowledge that the parameters can be a bit restraining on the artists sometimes. With this show, we were able to grant full creative freedom, giving the artists a nice break from studio approvals, copyright lines, character keys, etc.
NL: One thing I think a lot of people have noticed is that Mondo has taken a few chances this year on new concepts, for instance Jason Edmiston’s Eyes Without A Face show. That show, while still in the pop-culture realm, was really the first show without any sign of poster for sale which is what the majority of Mondo fans usually expect to see. When that show ended up being an incredible success, did that give you the confidence that an exhibit like Originals might work, or was there still some hesitation tackling something you hadn’t necessarily done before?
MP: I think that show definitely gave us a confidence boost, as did Sonny Day’s Mind Intern exhibit. There have also been some key strategic changes within the company over the past year, further pushing us to try new things and experiment with concepts outside of our usual routine. But above all, we wanted to wait until the gallery had cultivated a really healthy fanbase. We couldn’t be more thankful for the fans and their willingness to constantly follow us down paths, they are the best.
NL: With this show being something new and unique, what was the process for setting up the show, in terms of the artists and the work they’re submitting? I know that normally, when a licensed poster or print is being released, there’s a lot of back and forth between the artist(s) and the Mondo creative team including yourself, Rob Jones, Jay Shaw, etc. With something like this, was there the same level of back and forth, or was it more of a “let them do what they want” approach?
MP: This show was pretty open creatively. We did ask for some light “heads-upping” here and there, but that’s just because we are fans and we were excited to see what the artists were working on. But outside of something terribly offensive, I can’t really imagine a situation in which we would’ve interjected with a bunch of art direction on this show. We just kind of let each artist do their own thing.
NL: Over the last year especially, we’ve seen a shift at the gallery shows. In the past, most shows were usually poster/print heavy, with a couple of originals thrown in, whereas starting with last year’s 75 Years of Batman there’s been a more noticeable mixture between original pieces and posters. Is this something you hope to continue doing, going forward?
MP: Absolutely. I think there’s a natural progression in art collecting, and it’s certainly one that I’ve started to experience myself. People generally start out just collecting a lot of posters, and at some point, most folks drift toward buying more original drawings and paintings. We are trying to have shows that appeal to every level of art collector, whether it’s a person buying their first Batman poster or a seasoned collector looking for a painting by their favorite artist. We also work with a number of painters that typically operate within the traditional fine art gallery world, so it’s nice to work with them more regularly too. I think a nice mix of posters and originals is always best.
NL: I definitely agree. Now, when choosing to do a gallery show, what’s the process of picking the artists and material you want them to tackle, and how was the experience for you this time around, with the artists having “free reign” so to speak
MP: I generally curate shows based on what would get me stoked on a fandom level. When a show is property-based, we obviously try to assign artists that will work well with the characters. But when it’s totally open creatively, I just ask the artists that I would like to see when I walk in the door of my favorite galleries. That’s most of the fun of this job, getting to actually commission things that you would like to see exist in the world. If you get too wrapped up in what will sell and what will be successful, it takes the fun out of it, so I just try to go with what excites me personally.
Nerdlocker will be checking out the opening of the show, so be sure to stay tuned for photos of all the pieces live from the opening. With such a talented roster of artists showcasing their skill, this is definitely a show you will not want to miss!
Mondo’s newest exhibit, Originals: A Fine Art Show opens this Friday, November 13th from 7pm – 10pm. The exhibit will run from November 13th to December 5th, and will be open on Tuesday – Saturday from 12pm – 6pm. However the gallery will be closed November 25th – 26th for the Thanksgiving Holiday. The Mondo Gallery is located at 4115 Guadalupe Street in Austin, TX.
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