There I was, Friday morning, hitting the road. I was flying back to the OC just in time to catch the much anticipated Brandon Boyd exhibition at the Hurley )( Space gallery. That's right, another collaboration between the local surf and clothing mega company and a high profile artist. I say much anticipated, but that is because only after researching the artist I became familiar with his celebrity status, beginning by making some calls. I needed local 'peep' consensus on this guy's coolness levels. Apparently, I'm too old or too far out of the music loop to have been giddy at the thought of meeting this cat on Saturday night. But the mere mention of his name brought a twinkle to the eyes of my 20-something OC crew, which in all honesty piqued my interest.
In a strange turn of events, the OC Art Blog's new photographer had to cancel on the gig. . . so there we were, Jennifer as co-pilot, toughing it out with hundreds (YES I said hundreds) of Incubus fans to get a peak at the man himself. Mr. Brandon Boyd. Oh yeah, and the artwork was there too.
As I rolled up to the gallery the tension was palpable. Doormen finally broke the mood by allowing those lucky first que makers inside to get a look at the wall to wall mural and buy some H.O.P.E. booty. Amist the bouncer/body guards the chatter was all about how Brandon did this, or how he feels that, or even what HE was try say with these new artworks.
I was fascinated by how much of a personal connection these people felt to the artist. While I was busy trying to figure out the island reference in the artwork I realized that I had never seen an art crowd this innamored with the artist. That is when it hit me, celebrity. Yeah I know, I was a little slow I'll admit (totally blaming the jet-lag) but it was intoxicating.
It wasn't the line wrapping around the building of fashionable gallery goers yearning to see the artwork, or the cute bartenders smiling as if they really were there to serve me, or even the pleasure of watching Jennifer eat those little tatter tot thingy-s that brought a twinkle to my eyes . . . it was the spectacle that entertained me most.
As Boyd decended into the gallery, a hush fell, then the clammer of cameras and flashes. A mob moved in around him as all eyes were fixed on the scene. As the blob (Boyd + Mob) made its' way past the sales counter and through the entry miraculously squeezing into the main gallery I was left virtually alone in the entrance gallery area. There I was, surrounded by t-shirts and works on paper. That's when it hit me, it was all about his celebrity. Brandon Boyd is famous. His lyrics have been pumping into the ear buds of these people for over a decade and this, this was his following. It is very noble that celebrities use their fame to shed light on national and global issues great and small, and even raise funds for otherwise forgotten causes. All wonderful and noteworthy. But does anyone else question the validity of public figures using their celebrity for product promotion even if the cause is noble? Sometimes I see the most amazing artists during my travels, artists whose work will never get a fraction of the recognition or platform that celebrity artwork receives. Okay, enough soap box.
I (and most likely 99% of my fellow gallery goers) was so entranced that I almost forgot. We are talking about art here. What about the artwork? Only one original drawing on the wall, the others looked like digital prints. The main gallery was covered with a wall-to-wall mural with text and imagery, which may or may not be a reference to the story of Jonah and the Whale of Christian, Islamic, and Judaic narratives. Waiting to hear back from Mr. Boyd himself to comment on this one. The works use heavy black graphic lines to delineate imagery that is largely decorative and flat blocks of color is used to ground some of the more fluid forms- reminds me of Japanese woodblock printing with a contemporary edge.
Now back to the spectacle. . .Once the artist had signed his fair share of autographs, chatted with guests, and posed for the appropriate number of pics he made his way back up the stairs to the refuge above. The room felt as if it let off a sigh of relief and anxious joy. Then the announcements came to CLEAR OUT from bouncers and the over-worked marketing staff . . . the next batch of fans were waiting to get it. We were spared, press does have a few perks.
Brandon Boyd greets his fans
Later I was told that the artist made at least three more rounds of this to meet and greet all the fans, but one round was enough for Jennifer and I gave-up our prime real estate to adoring fans to view the spectacle themselves.
We have been generously granted an interview with Mr. Boyd.
I'm interested in asking about some of his influences and I'm giving him the infamous loaded question of " how do you define art" just to shake things up a bit. Have anything you are itching to know??
Send me the questions ASAP and I'll get them in the interview.
See you all soon.
Enjoy the pics.
Brandon Boyd original artwork on T-shirts buying frenzy at )( Space in Costa Mesa, a portion of the proceeds go to H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Everywhere)
All photo credits to Joanna Grasso and Jennifer Cheng
- Joanna Grasso, Contributing Writer and professional sweeper