Archive for the Gail Potocki Category

Welcome to the Freakshow!

Posted in Century Guild Contemporary, Exploitation Films, Gail Potocki, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 2 March, 2012 by SeanMChase

Deep down, I think we all have an attraction to the strange and unusual.  Some people don’t want to admit it and others will just as soon look away in disgust or horror, but in actuality, for a number of reasons, those that we regard as different or as strange and unusual hold a fascination for us.  Despite our best efforts, it’s still difficult not to stare awkwardly at those who live beyond the “norm” of society, those that don’t match our cultural and social expectations, or those who merely look different from us.  Often we resort to insulting terms such as “weirdos”, “creeps”, or “freaks” to describe these people whom we fail to understand.  But perhaps the greatest reason that we have this love/hate relationship with them is because they remind us of ourselves.

Perhaps there is no greater example within contemporary culture of our dualistic reaction to the social outsider than the 1932 Tod Browning horror-melodrama Freaks.  The film, which has become beloved by some and reviled by others, is considered one of the first true cult classics and even today it still manages to pack a punch.  The story is a deceptively simple tale about the companionship of a small group of sideshow performers and what happens when their inner circle is threatened by “normal” folk – the other great outsider.  One of the aspects of the film that created such an outrage and controversy when it was initially released was the fact that unlike almost any other film of its day, director Browning chose to use real life human anomalies to portray the characters of the story.

Today, this makes the film an interesting contradiction in that it is at once both an exploitation film and an empathetic look at the lives of those who are rejected by the mainstream culture.  However, ironically the film which served as a cautionary tale about judging one based upon appearances was almost unanimously panned by critics who had no desire to see “living monstrosities projected on the screen“.  During later years as viewers re-examined this flawed masterpiece of vintage shock cinema, they were struck by the seeming contradiction of a film that exploits the subjects that it attempts to advocate.  In spite of this controversy and indeed partially because of it, the film has endured for 80 years now and is regarded as a classic of horror cinema.

Director Tod Browning and a few members of his beloved consortium of freaks.  This promotional photo was taken on the set of the 1932 film, which would gain notoriety among filmmakers and critics, as well as shine a light (a somewhat unflattering one) on what goes on behind the scenes at the circus sideshow.

Yet the real stories of the sideshow freaks and the characters that populated the world of the carnevale spectacular are perhaps just as unbelievable and shocking as those of their fictional counterparts in Browning’s Freaks.  These “freaks” and others have been resurrected via the skilled hand of modern symbolist painter Gail Potocki in a series of paintings that must be seen to be believed.  So, if you dare read on, and you must, I shall share with you a glimpse into a world of grotesqueries, oddities, and anomalies that once scandalized the general public and left the faces of outsiders forever emblazoned in the minds of the world.

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Heavy Metal Meets Heavy Art

Posted in Century Guild Contemporary, Gail Potocki, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 20 January, 2012 by SeanMChase

Art and music.  Music and art.  Both mediums require not only inherent talent and dedicated practice, but also of an understanding of human emotions and ideas.  The two compliment one another well, and why shouldn’t they?  For centuries, artists have taken their inspiration from song and sought to endow their work with a visual lyricism just as composers and musicians have aspired to paint images in the minds of those that listen to their music.  But sometimes art and music come together unexpectedly.

Gail Potocki is an immensely talented contemporary Symbolist painter whose artwork is daringly original and yet evocative of the great painters of the 19th Century.  Metallica is arguably the most successful American heavy metal band ever and their long career has been rewarded with multiple awards, bestselling albums, and a worldwide fan base.  Who would have predicted that two seemingly different creative forces would come together?

Today, January 20th, 2012, one of Gail’s paintings will be prominently featured at the opening of an art exhibition held at Exhibit A Gallery.  The exhibition is called Obey Your Master:  Art Tribute to Metallica and will showcase a diverse group of artists with eclectic influences as they use the visual medium to pay homage to the popular metal band’s songs.  Each piece of artwork will be an interpretation or celebration of one of Metallica’s songs.  While Gail’s painting for this show has been revealed on the gallery’s website, the title of the painting has been kept a mystery to all until the showing.

Here is her painting,  “Through the Never,  inspired by the song of the same name of the self-titled fifth album by Metallica.

"Through the Never" by Gail Potocki (2011, Oil on linen, custom frame).

All that is, was and will be
Universe much too big to see
Time and space never ending
Disturbing thoughts, questions pending
Limitations of human understanding

Too quick to criticize
Obligation to survive
We hunger to be alive

Twisting, turning through the never
All that is, ever
Ever was, will be, ever
Twisting, turning through the never
– Metallica
in the song “Through the Never

When asked why she chose this particular song, Gail answered, “I chose this song because it had somewhat vague and abstract lyrics and fit well with how I like to approach my paintings.”  She went on to explain the symbolic motifs in her painting and how they correlate with the lyrics.  “The lyrics of this song seem to be meditations on the idea of eternity and mortality and that was the direction that I took this painting in.  For example, the octopus has been used in many cultures to represent the unconscious and the universe, so I placed the tentacles behind the woman to represent the never ending cosmos.”

A detail from Gail Potocki's "Through the Never" showing in close-up: the tentacle, the black bird, the woman with the poppies, and the needle passing through her hand.

Detail of "Through the Never" in which the lifeline thread can be seen tightly wound around the woman's thumb, cutting off her circulation, and foreshadowing her demise.

“The red poppies strung around her neck are a symbol of oblivion.  One end of the string is wrapped around her finger and it begins to turn blue.  This foreshadows the inescapable inevitability of death.  The needle, on which the poppies are thread, pierces through the lifeline on the woman’s right hand while her blood flows down and in to the mouth of the black bird below.  This to me represents the continuous cycle and flow of all life.”

Another detail of Potocki's "Through the Never". This one shows the precision with which she created the black bird that is both the ultimate manifestation of the beginning, the end, and a new beginning... life, death, and rebirth.

The broken egg on the tail of this bird represents renewal and birth.  I used a blue light radiating from a unidentified source on the left side of the painting to further represent the idea of the mysterious unknown.  I tried to have a reason for everything in this painting;  there is very little that was included for aesthetic purposes alone.

Looking over Symbolist and Art Nouveau works of the past can provide further insight into Gail’s masterful approach to her painting.

In Carlos Schwabe's "Spleen et Idéal" (1896), one can see similar visual motifs such as the violent waters, the menacing and inescapable tentacles, and the wings. This painting by Schwabe, was by no coincidence, also inspired by another medium. Its themes and title were appropriated from Charles Baudelaire's poem found in his book "Les Fleurs du Mal" (The Flowers of Evil), which deals with decadence, sensuality and the inevitability of death.

In this Jugendstil poster for "Frommes Kalender" by Koloman Moser, you can see a combination of Symbolist and Art Nouveau styles. The Ouroboros (the circular self-devouring serpent) is an ancient symbol that is often found in Hermetic iconography. It can represent numerous ideas such as the ongoing cycle of life in which the older generation is consumed by the younger generation, or spiritual renewal, but it has also been used by some to suggest the transcendental concept of the psyche overcoming the limitations of the body or the physical world. In this case, the ouroboros is accompanied by an hourglass, a symbol of time and mortality, while the beautiful woman dressed in dark could be interpreted as holding it as the key to her own longevity.

After acknowledging the long tradition of artists interpreting music, lyrics, and poetry into visual medium I became curious as to what Gail’s favorite example of this might be.  Here’s what she had to say: “All the 19th century Symbolist painters were heavily influenced by the literature and poetry of their times.  I love so much of it, but I am particularly fond of Fernand Khnopff‘s ‘I Lock the Door Upon Myself‘ which was inspired by Christina Rossetti‘s poem ‘Who Shall Deliver Me?  His painting pays homage to her work but is an incredible painting in its own right.

Fernand Khnopff's 1891 painting "I Lock the Door Upon Myself" inspired by poet Christina Rossetti's poem "Who Shall Deliver Me?" written in 1876. Khnopff was a Belgian Symbolist painter and he followed very much in the footsteps of the British Pre-Raphaelite movement, of which Christina Rossetti's brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was a founding member.

Gail’s painting “Through the Never” and other contemporary works of art inspired by Metallica can be viewed at Exhibit A Gallery during the public viewing from January 23rd – March 23rd.

Exhibit A Gallery
Address: 1086 South Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90019
Phone #: (323) 954-7295
Open Monday – Saturday: 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
For more info, please visit:

– Sean

SNEAK PREVIEW: “Grand Guignol II: HÄXAN – Satan + The Women who love Him”

Posted in Austin Young, Century Guild Contemporary, Century Guild Events, Gail Potocki, Grand Guignol, Malleus Rock Art Lab on 21 October, 2011 by j.a.

"Your first look at 'HÄXAN - Satan + The Women who love Him'"

Just over 40 hours until decadent Hell is unleashed upon Chicago…

Austin Young’s 1999 portrait of avant-garde diva Diamanda Galás lures you in to bear witness to the sensual horrors Century Guild has curated; Georges de Feure’s 1893 Japonist conjuration of wickedness “Friends of the Devil in the Flesh” and Gustav Klimt’s ultra-seductive “The Witch” (1919)  are but a few of the number of important works documenting magical women.

If you look closely, you can also see Italian Art Nouveau master Adolfo Hohenstein next to modern Italian artists Malleus, painter Gail Potocki, and sculptor Stanislav Szukalski adding to the ambiance…

If you’re in Chicago, you DO NOT want to miss what we have in store for you.  For more information, click HERE.


GRAND GUIGNOL II: HÄXAN – Satan + The Women who love Him

Posted in Austin Young, Century Guild Events, Chris Mars, Dave McKean, Dean Karr, Gail Potocki, Grand Guignol, Malleus Rock Art Lab, Michael Hussar, Steve Diet Goedde on 15 September, 2011 by j.a.

HAXAN - 22 October 2011

Century Guild invites you to investigate the dark and sensual wilderness of two of history’s most vilified figures: THE WITCH and her dark master, SATAN.  “Grand Guignol II: HÄXAN – Satan + The Women who love Him” explores not only turn-of-the-century artists’ fascination with these embodiments of evil, but also brings together a roster of acclaimed contemporary artists who’ve rendered their dark visions for a one night only special exhibition.  This event marks the one-year anniversary of Century Guild’s showroom, which opened its doors in Chicago’s industrial Kinzie District last October for the beyond capacity show, “Grand Guignol: An Exhibition Celebrating the Legendary Parisian Theater of Terror.”

Artworks include original historical posters from the French theater of terror Le Théâtre du Grand Guignol, antique works on paper by Gustav Klimt and Alphonse Mucha, a selection of 19th century Devil imagery, and modern contributions from contemporary painters Dave McKean (cover illustrator of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman), Michael Hussar, Gail Potocki, and Chris Mars; photographers Dean Karr (video director for Marilyn Manson), Austin Young, and Steve Diet Goedde; Italian poster art collective Malleus, and more.

The event will take place October 22nd, 2011 at Century Guild (2041 W. Carroll, C-220.)  The event is open to the public from 7-10 pm, and formal or dramatic costume attire is required.  No one under 21 will be admitted.

Century Guild was founded in 1999, and specializes in artworks 1880-1920, with emphasis on Art Nouveau & Symbolism.  They have placed artworks in museums and top collections around the world.  Works previously in the Century Guild inventory are on permanent display in The Art Institute of Chicago, The Detroit Institute of Arts, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The Century Guild showroom is available for scheduled viewings.

To contribute to the production of the exhibition book, visit our Kickstarter page HERE.

For more information: or Jack @ 800.610.2393

Countdown to Nitrate + Kinogeists II

Posted in Century Guild Contemporary, Century Guild Events, Dave McKean, Gail Potocki, Silent Cinema on 19 March, 2011 by Thomas Negovan

It’s one week until our Silent Cinema Art Exhibition, and the hanging of the art is almost finished!  I thought that you might like a sneak peek at the exhibition…

(It does appear that there was more dog-cuddling than hanging.  This is not entirely untrue.)

See you soon!


Nitrate + Kinogeists: next weekend

Lyta and Michaelanne // Chloe and Gail

Nitrate + Kinogeists: next weekend

Pup support is important to art hanging: Dave McKean's Metropolis (2009) and Orsi's Raspoetin (1925)


Nitrate + Kinogeists: next weekend

Nitrate + Kinogeists: underway

Nitrate + Kinogeists: next weekend

Nitrate + Kinogeists: next weekend! Dog tricks? Perhaps.

Nitrate + Kinogeists: next weekend

1920s pottery + original silent film advertising lithographs: The Picture of Dorian Gray (1917), Whitechapel (1920), The Love of the Temple Dancer (1926), and Blonde Poison (1919).

Nitrate + Kinogeists: next weekend

Michaelanne sweeps, and...

Nitrate + Kinogeists: next weekend

Lyta finishes making sure the floor is clean.

And Miles To Go Before We Sleep. (2: In which we are brought up to date.)

Posted in Century Guild Contemporary, Century Guild Events, Cursed Pirate Girl Radio Drama, Dave McKean, Gail Potocki, Jeremy Bastian, Olympian Publishing, Stephanie Leonidas on 15 February, 2011 by Thomas Negovan

We’ve added another voice to the Cursed Pirate Girl radio play… joining Stephanie Leonidas (Cursed Pirate Girl), Robert Boulter (Narrator and Mister Spekle), Dave McKean and Grant Morrison (the Swordfish Brothers), and Randy Couture (Sharky)- in the role of the indomitable Captain Holly…  John C. Reilly!  Yay!

After a wonderful day including armor, Dungeons & Dragons, vintage guitars, and… wait for it… CLOWN PAINTINGS!  John lay down the voice for the surly villain with a delivery that exceeded my already high expectations.

Thomas Negovan with John C. Reilly, reading the part of Captain Holly.

"Yer a cruddy little stowaway!!!"

"Yer a cruddy little stowaway!!!"

After San Diego Comic Con last summer, we’ve been going SO nonstop I haven’t had even a moment to post a “real” blog update.  We had gallery construction:

Lyta may not have opposable thumbs, but has found that her snaggletooth makes an excellent demolition tool.

An amazing opening night party:

Barbara Staples, Gillian Hastings, and Lady Jack at the opening night Grand Guignol event.

Lady Jack lounges amidst some of the more macabre artworks...

Opening night at Century Guild: Grand Guignol. Because Good Taste shouldn't be a subculture.

Then a bunch of shoots for a TV show that we can’t talk about (but whose premiere commanded four million viewers…), travelling to negotiate some fabulous artifacts away from Shaolin monks and Parisian bordello owners, and preparing for our next show: LOVE AND OTHER VIOLATIONS, this coming weekend!  Celebrate love and lust with us on February 19th if you’re in Chicago.  6-9 pm, we’re feeling the Valentine’s Day spirit!  Here are some of the artworks for this weekend’s show:

Ekstase by Dave McKean

Eve by Gail Potocki

Yolanda, Los Angeles 2000 by Steve Diet Goedde

Original poster advertising Les debauches d'un confesseur, a seminal S&M novel from 1883

Danae by Gustav Klimt (period lithograph, produced by Klimt)

Please note:



Saturday, 19 February 2010 at Century Guild

6-9 pm

Finis by Gail Potocki


…and Miles to Go Before We Sleep (1: final San Diego photos.)

Posted in Antique Fairs, Century Guild Contemporary, Century Guild Events, Comic Conventions, Gail Potocki, Jim Rose Circus, San Diego Comic Con, Steampunk on 15 February, 2011 by Thomas Negovan
Rod wrangles the teeming hordes of Thomas Jane fans for us.

Rod wrangles the teeming hordes of Thomas Jane fans for us. His signings in our booth caused a bit of a traffic jam. (Ok, MORE than a bit, there was a whole security contingent issued to sort the mayhem.)

I am averaging about one post a decade at this pace.  Let’s relive the magic and splendor of Comic Con with the belief that if a picture tells a thousand words, you are about to experience a million word essay!

It is always magical to see Brian Froud and his wife Wendy, the artists who created the visuals for The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.  (Photo taken by Dave McKean, director of MirrorMask, the third of the three Jim Henson fantasy films.)

It is always magical to see Brian Froud and his wife Wendy, the artists who created the visuals for The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. (Photo taken by Dave McKean, director of MirrorMask, the third of the three Jim Henson fantasy films.)

Jim Rose is right: San Diego Comic Con is full of the strangest things one will EVER see...

Jim Rose (holding up a vintage poster for his Circus) is right: San Diego Comic Con is full of the strangest things one will EVER see...

An example of the insanity...

An example of the aforementioned insanity... From Art Nouveau... to LEGOs! In only twenty paces!

Because Michaelanne LOVES "CHiPs"! Her first celebrity connection at Comic Con? Erik Estrada!

Melissa auf der Maur (Hole, Smashing Pumpkins, Rufus Wainwright) was lovely... I suspect that her aura is a Heavy Metal loving teenage boy spinning a Pre-Raphaelite dream.

MAdM and Lee Moyer signed a poster for her "Out of Our Minds" environmental music and film Friday and Saturday.

I can't believe that the League of Steam convinced Gail and Stuart to do a circle of electrocution...

I can't believe that the League of Steam convinced Gail Potocki and Stuart to do a circle of electrocution...

But then I shouldn't be surprised that Holistic Health Maven and Consistent Overachiever Stuart did it TWICE.

As much as Michaelanne loves Erik Estrada, it doesn't come close to how much Gail Potocki LOVES Paul Komoda!!! Here she is with his pendant "The Kiss".

And before we knew it, it was midnight on Sunday. The neckties came off, and after hours of blood and falling timbers the truck was packed full of Art Nouveau goodness.

Thanks also to Steve Diet Goedde, who also signed in our booth but is strangely absent from photos!  The curse of the photographer, I suppose…