Archive for Freaks

You wanted ’em? We got ’em! Come see the amazing FREAKS!

Posted in Century Guild Contemporary, Gail Potocki, San Diego Comic Con, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 8 April, 2013 by SeanChase

The days of circuses, carnivals, vaudeville, cabarets, and early cinema have always held a hypnotic sway over me and I’ve been obsessed with them since my childhood.  Of particular interest are the sideshow attractions and freak shows.  The wondrously bizarre, beautiful, and grotesque world of sideshow freaks has been a source of fascination and controversy from the time of their inception in the 19th Century, though circuses themselves date back to ancient Graeco-Roman traditions.  While today we may not have direct access to the theatrical spectacle of circus sideshows, at least not the ones that proliferated in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries and which focused on physical abnormalities, we do have certain portals into that world of entertainment that existed in the dark shadows of The Big Top.  Aside from modern sideshow attractions, which focus more on physical performance than physical deformity, there have been numerous films and works of art that have attempted to pay homage or preserve the atmospheric ambiance, the eccentric characters, and unbelievable world of circuses and their inhabitants.  Perhaps the strange allure of the sideshow can be reduced to the simple dynamics of exhibition and exploitation, but then again, most forms of art and expression can.  What is it that makes carnivals and circuses so tantalizingly mysterious to the outside world?

Perhaps the circus is the exaggerated reality that lies just beyond the periphery of our accepted social sphere.  It at once allows us a glimpse into an environment where everything is heightened, pushed to the limit (and sometimes far surpasses it), and while things may be familiar, nothing is really the same as in the lives that we know.  Though it isn’t feasible to escape our frustratingly mundane personal realities and simply “run away to join the circus”, it is possible to seek inspiration and escapism within the world of freaks and carnies.  Taking inspiration from this spectacular world is exactly what Gail Potocki has done.  Begun in 2009, the Freaks portraits series is an ongoing project for Gail, and only a few of her amazing portraits have been revealed and even more have yet to be created.  The brilliant portraits are like a peephole into the circus tents of the past.  Not only do they shine the spotlight on some truly unusual characters, but they also expose their humanity in a way that is both profound and endearing.  Each portrait embraces its subject as an individual, both celebrating their differences and acknowledging their humanity, and all the while doing so in a playfully creative manner that is fitting of Gail’s symbolist style.

The first five "Freaks" paintings by Gail Potocki!

The first five “Freaks” paintings by Gail Potocki!

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Wear Cutting Edge Art with Pride – New Shirts Now Available!

Posted in Comic Conventions, Gail Potocki, Jeremy Bastian, Malleus Rock Art Lab, Merchandise, San Diego Comic Con, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 12 July, 2012 by SeanChase

Step right up and see what wonders we have for you!

Just in time for the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con, the Century Guild booth (Booth # 2845) is debuting new t-shirts featuring the extraordinary work of Jeremy A. Bastian, the Malleus Rock Art Lab, and Gail Potocki!  These new graphic t-shirts, aside from being fashionable and extremely comfortable, showcase the work of diverse and immensely talented artists at the height of their creative apex.  Now, why should you buy one (or all) of these very cool shirts?  Because they are amazing!  Let’s take a closer look at each one and you’ll see why.

 

First off, let’s see the exceptionally cool shirt done by Malleus

Thomas Negovan ‘The Divine Eye’ t-shirt (MALLEUS, 2012)

Available in sizes small, medium, large, and extra large, and produced in a limited edition number of 80, this deep v-neck, fitted t-shirt exclusively for the ladies (sorry, guys) is made of highest quality 100% cotton, features gold foil details, and the graphic was screened using high resolution to create the best possible image.  The design appearing on the t-shirt was originally created for a poster to help promote the release of  Thomas Negovan‘s historical 2011 debut single “The Divine Eye“, which was recorded on a Thomas Edison phonograph and released as a limited edition wax cylinder.  Certainly such a feat is worthy of recognition, and indeed commemoration, but no mere work of commercial art would suffice, so naturally Thomas turned to Malleus Rock Art Lab and what they created is simply spectacular.

Thomas Negovan ‘The Divine Eye’ poster (Malleus, 2011)

Malleus is an artist collective comprised of three unique and talented individuals.  Their work is inspired by Art Nouveau, Expressionism, Surrealism, Psychedelic Art, and Pop Art.  They’ve created works for everyone from Queens of the Stone Age and the Mars Volta to The Dresden Dolls and Amanda Palmer.  When it comes to creating indelible and iconic imagery to accompany and promote the releases and tours of today’s best music acts, Malleus is already a legend.

 

And from Gail Potocki‘s fantastic Freaks series…

Freaks t-shirts collection (Gail Potocki, 2012)

Also available in BOTH men’s and women’s sizes small, medium, large, and extra large, and produced in a limited edition number of 85 each gender, these ultra-comfortable and timeless, dark grey, crew-neck shirts are made of 100% cotton and screened from high resolution to best capture the masterful work of modern symbolist Gail Potocki‘s brilliant paintings.  The imagery for these two shirts is derived from  Gail’s Freaks series  done in 2009, which lovingly pays homage to the world of circus and carnival sideshow figures from the early part of the 20th Century.  These detailed and nuanced portraits manage to not only capture the essence of their subjects, but also the imaginations of all those who see them.  Imagine the look of intrigue on your friends’ faces as you proudly wear your own shirt featuring Annie Jones the Bearded Lady or Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy!

Annie Jones the Bearded Lady (Gail Potocki, 2009)

‘Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy’ (Gail Potocki, 2009)

Of her fascination with the freaks, Gail says, “I think part of it is that they had to blaze their own trail whether they wanted to or not.  Because they are so unique and rare, they stand out like diamonds in a sea of glass.
So too will the wearers of these awe-inspiring t-shirts, which are sure to become cult favorites and collector’s items, so be sure to pick yours up soon because they will disappear fast!

 

And from the imagination of Jeremy A. Bastian

Cursed Pirate Girl t-shirts (Jeremy A. Bastian, 2012)

Available in BOTH men’s and women’s sizes small, medium, large, and extra large, and produced in an extremely limited edition number of only 70, these stylish, grey crew-neck t-shirts are made from 100% cotton and feature a slick wrap-around design which was screened from high resolution and allows for the insane amount of detail of Jeremy Bastian‘s work to display itself.  The exclusive design features the Cursed Pirate Girl herself as she heroically leaps out of the reach of the clutches of her vile nemeses.  Whether you’re a fan of comic books, pirates, illustration, or just want to wear a really handsome shirt, we have your needs covered thanks to Jeremy’s remarkable work.

Cursed Pirate Girl: The Collected Edition, Volume 1 (Archaia Publishing, 2012)

Jeremy’s astonishingly illustrated and darkly, whimsical comic book for children has been acclaimed by some of the comics industry’s most respected names and the first three epic issues were recently collected in a single volume by Archaia Publishing.  The title has been on the rise in popularity and there’s even a radio-dramedy in the works featuring Stephanie Leonidas (the star of Dave McKean‘s films MirrorMask and the upcoming Luna) as the title heroine and swashbuckling adventurer.  Jeremy will be appearing at Comic-Con with Archaia at Booth # 2635 and Stephanie will also be making an appearance at our Comic-Con booth along with some other guest surprises, so keep an eye out, matey!

 

All of these shirts, both in style and sizes, are available in very LIMITED QUANTITIES only at Comic-Con and they will go fast, so you will want to be sure to purchase yours while you can.  Stop by Century Guild at Booth # 2845 and pick up yours!

– Sean

Welcome to the Freakshow!

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

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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