ART. And also free booze. – “100 Paintings” by OBLVN @Klughaus Gallery

Garfield, Felix and Heathcliff as Maneki Neko

In a fairly untapped part of Chinatown (a neighborhood actually called “Two Bridges,” according to google maps), Klughaus Gallery has opened its doors and is currently holding its first show.

I stopped by the opening reception last Saturday with Kawai and Cindy to check out the work of a dude named Aaron Reimer, who does his art under the name OBLVN. Yes, in all caps like that. If that doesn’t sound pretentious enough, let’s also factor in that he’s from Portland.

Despite going into this experience with an obvious negative preconceived notion about LES art galleries and people with aliases that lack any vowels or lowercase letters, I was shocked and delighted by what I saw. First of all, Mr. OBLVN created 100 paintings for this show. That’s right, one fucking hundred. And it’s his first show in NY mind you. Second, they were all twists on famous comics and cartoons. Like Dennis the Menace as a graffiti artist, a suicidal Michigan J. Frog, and Felix the Cat as an art thief. Oh Klughaus Gallery and OBLVN, I am humbled by your surprising non-pretentiousness and also by your free wine.

The paintings themselves were pretty awesome. Aside from the huge amount of creativity and cleverness it took to actually THINK of 100 different cool takes on famous old school cartoons, it also took pretty sick cartooning, inking and brushing skills, which is more than I can say for half the shit at MOMA, etc. This was all music to my eyes, as animation, cartooning and illustration are art I can, and do, get down with on a regular basis. Even though I recognized many of the characters (there were also famous mascots like the Energizer Bunny featured, btw), I just wished there were some Rocko’s Modern Life or Ren or Stimpy or Courage the Cowardly Dog pieces. Sigh. Maybe OBLVN will do a 90’s cartoon reinvention show next. (PLEASE DO IT).

I only got to speak to the artist Sir OBLVN for a hot minute, but he seems like a level-headed regular dude, which is disappointing as I was hoping to generate great writing material from a conversation with an insane person. But alas, he’s normal a felon, albeit with the urban style of a street skater and the soft speaking voice of Michael Jackson as a therapist. Oh, and he’s also a graffiti artist. So he’s also cool. Probably not as cool as Jamie Hewlett, but cool enough for me to forgive him for his pretentious alias and associations with Nike. And Klughaus, I also forgive you for using the German “haus,” instead of “house.” I still don’t understand the etymology of doing that, btw. It probably has something do with fashion, which is another thing I still don’t understand.

I also have to mention that while at Klughaus, I learned the gallery also serves as an agency for commissioning graffiti, or what they call “aerosol artwork.” Although such a concept might be thought of as taking away from the organic and, well, illegal roots of grafitti, it’s cool that at least it shows people are accepting it as an art form. They’re commissioning it for christ’s sake.

So basically if you love classic cartoons and cleverness, go check out OBLVN at Klughaus running until April 1.

Klughaus Gallery
47 Monroe Street
New York, NY 10002

P.S. This place is literally almost right under the Manhattan Bridge so there’s some good views of stuff nearby. AND there’s a skatepark. If you’re into that.

P.P.S. As cool and non-obnoxious as Klughaus was, I just hope the opening of an art gallery in this quiet family hood doesn’t set off a chain reaction from across the river and turn it into DUMBO 212 edition.

P.P.P.S. Aside from free wine, the brand and year of which I am both unaware of and indifferent to because I’m not cultured like that, the opening reception also featured this weird craft beer in a can (also free). It looked cool but reportedly tasted like PBR. So if you’re a hipster and want to start paying more for the same shitty beer but in a cooler can, check out Bomb Lager.