Pittsburgh, PA "It was an e-mail from a "Star Wars" fan."

Discussion in 'NorthEast Regional Discussion' started by Fluke_Groundrunner, Feb 25, 2009.

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  1. Fluke_Groundrunner Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 1, 2001
    star 4
    Reimagining an iconic movie villain tn 'The Vader Project'
    Wednesday, February 25, 2009
    By Sharon Eberson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    "Carmen Mirandarth, 2007" is part of "The Vader Project" at The Andy Warhol Museum."

    Andy Warhol would have loved it -- using a cultural icon and transforming it according to the artist's sensibility. But these are no soup cans.

    Darth Vader, the embodiment of evil and redemption in pop culture, was ranked No. 3 on the AFI's list of top 100 movie villains (perhaps the redemption part is what caused voters to pick Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates Nos. 1 and 2). But in his villainous stage, we know Darth Vader by his hulking size, his sweeping cape and the oversize helmet that helps him breathe.

    That helmet forms the foundation of "The Vader Project," an exhibition at The Andy Warhol Museum, North Side, that opens Saturday and runs through May 3. The brainchild of husband and wife Dov Kelemer and Sarah Jo Marks, co-owners of DKE Toys, the exhibition features 100 works that started as to-scale replicas of the Darth Vader helmet of "Star Wars" films that were used as blank canvases for the artists to paint, design and customize.

    Kelemer and Marks tapped artists from unconventional art scenes -- rock posters, tattoos, toy design and graffiti -- who had some gallery exposure and acclaim in their fields. Clothing designer Marc Ecko and poster artist Frank Kozik are among the designers. The artists are also known by names such as Shag, Attaboy, Mister Cartoon and Dalek, which sometimes identifies the art and the artists who create it as "underground" or "low brow."

    They hate that label, Los Angeles-based Kelemer said by phone on Monday.

    "Andy Warhol represented the low brow of his time, now he's the high brow. All these artists are the premiere artists in their field, and many of them don't like that word, low brow, for that reason. What's low brow today is going to be high brow tomorrow, once people figure it out. It's just the evolution of art."

    Although The Vader Project and the Warhol might seem like a perfect marriage, it wasn't the artist and the museum that bears his name that attracted Kelemer, whose DKE Toys distributes designer toys and art objects to stores around the world.

    It was an e-mail from a "Star Wars" fan.

    "It was kind of ridiculous, actually," Kelemer relates. "There was a fan, Christine Anderson, who is the secretary-treasurer of the Star Wars Association of Pittsburgh, and she e-mailed me and said, "I think this needs to come to Pittsburgh."

    Anderson took it upon herself to contact Jesse Kowalski, Warhol director of exhibitions, and that got the ball rolling.

    That the project has landed in a museum is beyond Kelemer's dreams for the project, which was first exhibited with 66 helmets at a "Star Wars" celebration in Los Angeles in May 2007.

    "We were unsure 'Star Wars' fans would appreciate it and that they might think it was weird," Kelemer recalled. Then he saw the line to get into the exhibit, which stretched until some people were waiting for an hour, while pieces from the movies' archives had no waiting time.

    "It was fresh, it was new," Kelemer explained. While "Star Wars" imagery lends itself to interpretation, "it had always been very genre-based, with artists from the worlds of science fiction and comic books."

    He likens the exhibition to the many citywide exhibitions throughout the country in which 3-D shapes such as angels or cows -- or in the case of Pittsburgh, dinosaurs -- were customized by artists.

    That concept has become popular in the designer toy industry, he said, and that's how the idea struck him that Darth Vader's helmet would be the perfect blank canvas.

    "It's such an iconic image that anything you do is making a statement. The number of political statements in the show is amazing and some of them can be read so many different ways," he said, pointing out Wade Lageose's Statue of Liberty mask as an example that invites multiple interpretations.

    The helmets have traveled the country to conventions, but this is the first time they will be shown
  2. greencat336 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2001
    star 5
  3. TRADMIC Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 24, 2005
    star 5
    It should have ended with our slogan 'it's onyl fun if you come' to get people to come see the exhibit.

    Still awesome.

    :)
  4. SuperChill Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2005
    star 3
  5. BonMothma Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 1, 2003
    star 4
    I got your text, Chris, but since I only turn my phone on like once every two weeks, I missed it in the paper.

    I'm glad to see it here.

    Congratulations!
  6. Rebojazz Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 11, 2006
    star 1
    Wow, Cat! Good for you! That's gotta make you feel good.
  7. greencat336 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2001
    star 5
    I admit, I was very excited to be acknowledged publicly about helping get the Vader Project to Pittsburgh. I was thrilled beyond belief when DKE Toys sent me a Master Replica Vader helmet as a 'thank you.'


    Don't forget, March 14, 10 AM is the official SWAP outing to see the Vader Project!

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