Level-up with Venom
Thursday, August 13, 2015
This month’s one-night Museum After Hours pop up – held on each third Thursday – is all about comic books and video games, two of the most popular veins of our collective popular culture. But as guest curator Phillip Rollins (AKA DJ Young Venom) - owner of Offbeat, Jackson’s inimitable comic book shop, vinyl stop, and gallery - attests, these worlds of eye-popping graphics and saturated colors are not just skin deep. Their ubiquitousness is what makes them so impactful; they reach and engage millions through what is certifiably visual art.
“I think it’s important to blend those two worlds, between art and everyday life,” Rollins begins.
The world of comic books, for its part, often reflects real world issues of social justice and re-imaginings of a more promising future. X-Men, for example, one of the most widely consumed and commercially successful alternate universes, is viewed by many as an allegory for tensions of the 1960s. “X-Men played a big role in my life,” Rollins says. “It’s the growing-up-in-a-world-that-hates-and-fears-you type deal.”
Rollins has gathered together an array of striking work for the exhibition, some nostalgic of video games past, some depicting interpretations of the artists’ favorite super heroes and comic book heroines. The platform gives exposure to artists of color, but it also legitimizes the media and aesthetics of comic books and gaming, which have only in recent decades begun to garner mainstream appreciation as fine art.
“I’m somebody who grew up reading comic books so I look at it as a form of art,” says Rollins, “and this show bridges gaps. A lot of people think a museum is just a place where you see old people’s art, but this opportunity has allowed me to expose more people to non-traditional formats. If you want to do animation or a comic or cover art, you can; you can be successful in whatever medium you choose.”
Growing up, people often told Rollins that to pursue creative outlets as a career would be to relegate himself to “starving artist” status. Despite what might have otherwise been a deterrent, Rollins has carved out a vocation that embraces the alternative, trading in the same worlds of music and graphic novels and popular culture that inspired him as a child.
His favorite X-Men character was Nightcrawler, a figure who could not hide his mutations. “He was blue. He clearly looked different,” says Rollins. “Some of the other X-Men could assimilate with humans but he could not. He was a blue devil and he got stoned for it.”
But as the panels of the comic book overtly and subliminally suggest, these enigmatic mutations and incongruities are not shortcomings, but markers of individuality and progress. They are compelling and captivating – as art often is – not to be dismissed but to be looked upon more closely, more deeply.
Museum After Hours - Offbeat Art
5:30 – 10 PM; 7 PM trivia; dusk – Outdoor Urban Arcade
Every third Thursday, we open the Museum doors after hours and partner with local artists, musicians, chefs, or other organizations for a one-night pop up exhibition and social event. These partnerships help foster collaboration among creatives and entrepreneurs and feature a one-night exhibition of contemporary art and a limited-time menu from Executive Chef Nick Wallace. This month showcases survey of contemporary Mississippi art by young minority artists guest curated by Phillip Rollins, owner of Jackson alternative culture store and gallery, Offbeat.
Exhibition features video game and comic book-themed art by artists Ken Patterson, Jasmine Cole, Rhis Harris, Justin Ransburg, Ariss King, Myesha Wallace, Shelly Roundtree, Adrienne Dominick, Alexis Cooper, and Mario Nevarez.
The evening also includes performances by local DJs and producers, Art Bar Pop Trivia, an outdoor urban arcade in The Art Garden, and a screening of a short film by RecklessMindzTv directed by Andre’ Carter. The Museum Store and Changing Exhibitions (when on view) open until 8 PM. Cost: Free to the public; cash bar and food available for purchase. Museum After Hours is sponsored by Trustmark and the exclusive beverage sponsor is Capital City Beverages.