Category Archives: Creature Features

Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year 2017..if just a little bit late!

I would have reported in sooner, but things have been hopping right from the start of 2017. I am actually working on a film project for the first tine in quite some doing some cartoony character/product designs. It is a lot of fun but also quite hush-hush. When I am able to say more, I will update the blog.

On the personal side, I have a number of new irons in the fire. A wonderful gallery called the “Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum” in Burbank recently premiered a “Twilight Zone/Alfred Hitchcock” themed group show. A number of folks I know were participating and I thought I should try to get in on the action. Despite being overbooked, the gallery owners very graciously allowed me to enter a painting. The Rod Serling portrait that appears on my portfolio page is now hanging on their walls. It was an amazing show that had crowds lined up around the block. I was quite proud to be part of this event and I hope I will get the opportunity to do more shows with them.

I also had an idea for an original Hitchcock-themed piece, but there was no time to work on it as my friends at the Creature Features Gallery right down the street from the Bearded Lady announced a slew of group shows for the first half of the year. The first one was timed to coincide with the release of the new film, “Kong Skull Island”. This show was headlined by master illustrator and Kong enthusiast William Stout. They also had their usual array of fantastic artists covering the walls with all things King Kong.

For my painting, I decided I would take a satirical swipe at the 1976 Dino DeLaurentis produced remake of “King Kong”. From a young age I have been fascinated with the saga of bringing this particular beast to the screen. For those not in the know, DeLaurentis decided that for his film, they would forego the traditional stop-motion animation that brought the original giant gorilla to life. Instead, they would utilize a combination of newer techniques; a performer in a gorilla suit and a full-sized robotic Kong. For the suit fabrication and performance, the production hired a then up and coming Rick Baker. You might remember him as the Oscar winning makeup artist behind “An American Werewolf in London”, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” among many others. For the mechanical version, DeLaurentis hired his friend, mechanical effects artist Carlo Rambaldi (“Alien”, E.T.”, “Dune”).

The story is long and there are several places on the web that probably tell it better than I could. Suffice it to say, Rick Baker has always regarded “Kong” as one of his worst job experiences. From the get-go he wasn’t treated with much respect. Being an ape enthusiast, Baker and team lovingly crafted the suit to look as much like a real gorilla as possible. Rambaldi’s robot looked like a bad wax museum display, but hey, it was BIG! The only problem was, it didn’t really work! Wearing the technically groundbreaking but cumbersome ape suit must have been torture. However, because Rambaldi’s full size ape was an unmitigated disaster and can only be seen in pretty much one or two shots near the end of the film, 99.98% of the shots had to be done with Rick Baker ape-ing it up on miniature sets. After all that work, guess who gets a special acknowledgement card at the end of the film AND a Special Achievement Academy Award at the Oscars that year? Yup! Carlo. While I always thought they had blinders on when it came to the quality of Rambaldi’s work, it turns out that may not have been true after all. I read somewhere recently that DeLaurentis knew early on that the full sized versions of Kong just weren’t going to work. He turned lemons into lemonade by inviting the press to the first day of shooting with the robot Kong. They got to see it do the one or two simple things it could do, and assumed that was how the effects would be achieved. Essentially, DeLaurentis..lied!

In my painting, I wanted to show these two versions fighting against each other. I knew that the robot Kong wouldn’t last through more than one punch. This idea immediately called to mind the famous Life photograph of Muhammad Ali standing over a fallen Sonny Liston who took a dive in the first minute of the first round of their second fight in 1965. This provided everything I needed for the painting. I added my usual “eye pops” for those who get the in-jokes. Here now for your perusal, “The Crumble in the Jungle”…

The Crumble in the Jungle painting

“The Crumble in the Jungle” 36 x 24. Acrylic on Canvas. © Mark Tavares

I hope you liked it. The painting will be on display, for sale, at the Gallery for the next week or so. There are also numbered prints for sale. Head to the Creature Features website for info!

More to come! Thanks for reading!

-Mark

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Godzilla & Godot

Hello! Once again, my good friends at the Creature Features gallery in Burbank, CA have put together a great group art show in which I just had to participate. Actually this is a sequel show if you will; the “All Art Attack 2” Group Art Show. As you may recall, the last time this was done, the world was celebrating the 60th anniversary of the much beloved Giant Lizard, Godzilla. The sequel show is happening because we are close to getting TWO new Godzilla films and probably just because it’s a fun theme. Given the amount of attention the opening received from contributing artists, the media, and the public, I would bet heavily on the latter reason. As far as my contribution to the show, I went for something somewhat obscure and brought together the worlds of Godzilla & Godot. I give you “Waiting for Ghidorah”.

Waiting for Ghidorah (Godzilla & Ghidorah) painting

“Waiting for Ghidorah” 24 x 18. Acrylic on Oak Panel. © Mark Tavares

 

Now, having expressed a deep love for the Giant Rubber Monster film genre in the past, one would think I would have a warehouse of ideas ready to go for an occasion such as this sequel show. That was not the case though. I was suffering through a bout of severe “painter’s block” you might say as the deadline crept closer and closer. Enter my my very creative friend and former business partner, Brett Dewey. My old Humerus buddy and I share a great many geek tendencies. So, when I happened to casually mention that I was having troubles landing on a concept for this show, he did what he always does; carpet bomb me with all sorts of fun parody, mashup, and current events inspired ideas.

Of the many great suggestions, the “Waiting for Godot” turned “Waiting for Godzilla” parody was the one that caught my eye. Like many folks, I had always known of the phrase “Waiting for Godot” and that it was from a play. (Admittedly, I was only half-sure about the play part) Researching it, I was fascinated by the basic story and the visual possibilities of dropping the G-Man into it. I was completely sold when I saw pictures of several different productions including a 2013 Broadway run with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. I just had to see Gandalf sitting next to Godzilla on a sparsely designed set wearing hobo clothes!

The show runs until August 28. If you are in twin, do head over there and check it out. In case you were wondering, the painting is for sale. There are also a limited number of signed prints available for purchase. Click on this link for more info!

Thanks for looking!!

-Mark

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