If you ask the average collector to name a few of the artists currently working for Mondo, you’d probably hear a few of the same names over and over again. Much in the same way that you used to rank your favorite Backstreet Boys in middle school (what, you thought we forgot?!), Mondo fans can’t help but pick favorites. In fact, if ya talked to the wrong person, you might think Tyler Stout, Martin Ansin, Olly Moss, and Aaron Horkey were the only guys creating posters for Mondo.
Not so at the Mondo Gallery: from the beginning, the Gallery has been committed to showcasing the company’s the lesser-known stretches of the Mondo brand: its newer or less-prolific contributors, its more obscure licenses. Case in point? Mondo Gallery’s Brandenburg & Drake exhibit, which opened to rave reviews in Austin last night. Going in, Limited Paper knew very little about Robert Brandenburg and Craig Drake…but when we left, we were true believers. Find out why after the jump, folks.
Every year, the SXSW Film and Music Festival turns downtown Austin into a beer-soaked, hipster-filled, sleep-deprived circus. It’s a week-long orgy of film screenings, standup comedy shows, live music, and parking tickets that some locals consider the year’s best party…and that others consider the best time to take vacation every year: when SXSW’s going on, for better or for worse– it’s all anyone’s talking about.
Well, except this year.
This year, Mondo opened up their first Gallery during SXSW, and almost immediately it became one of the most-discussed events of SXSW 2012. People were lined up days in advance of the Gallery’s opening, sleeping (or not) through rain and chilly weather just to be the first ones into Mondo’s first standalone location (see above). When they finally got inside, they discovered a sci-fi themed show featuring new artwork from Tyler Stout, Olly Moss, Martin Ansin, and just about every other artist who’d ever produced a poster for Mondo.
Lemme tell ya: that first show? Massively impressive. In the week leading up to the opening, Mondo’s creative director– Justin Ishmael—sat down for a number of interviews, and one thing that kept coming up in those talks was how often the Mondo guys planned on opening new exhibits. Time and again, we heard that they wanted to do “about a show per month” in 2012, and I seem to recall quite a few people reacting to that goal with skepticism: how the hell would they ever maintain that pace? And more importantly, how the hell were local collectors going to afford keeping up with it?
Well, we’re about to head into October, and—for the most part—Mondo’s actually kept that pace all year long. They also told us that they intended to use the Gallery to showcase the weirder , more “fringe” side of the Mondo brand, and—sure enough—they’ve done that, too (their all-Adventure Time show, for instance, or Jay Shaw’s one-man show based entirely upon obscure exploitation movies from the 70’s-80’s).
These shows have been a lot of fun to attend, to be sure, but if I were being honest, I’d have to admit that none of the Gallery’s post-SXSW exhibits were quite as jaw-dropping as that first show was. Lemme be very clear: all of Mondo’s shows have been worth checking out and a total blast to see in person. But that SXSW opener set the bar pretty high, and the poster-junkie in me’s been chasing that high ever since.
When this weekend’s Brandenburg & Drake show was first announced, I didn’t really know what to expect: Drake’s half was reportedly a series of cult-film character-posters, all of which would be presented in the style of Patrick Nagel, patron saint of tacky 80’s artwork. Brandenburg, meanwhile, was bringing nothing but originals (OG’s, hereafter) to the party, and—from what I gathered prior to the opening—these looked to be clever and subversive…but not necessarily anything I’d fall in love with. And so, in the days leading up to the opening, I figured that Brandenburg & Drake’s exhibit might end up being the funniest Mondo Gallery show thus far, but beyond that? I didn’t know where to place my expectations.
As it turns out, Brandenburg & Drake is—without question—the best Mondo Gallery show since the place opened in March. It may not have as many prints as that first show did, and it may be half-filled with a number of OG’s you won’t be able to afford; it may not be an all-ages-welcome affair like the Adventure Time show was, nor does it come anywhere near matching the grittiness and sleaze that Shaw expertly captured in his solo show. ..
But whatever: take a look at this video walking tour I shot (you’ll see every piece, OG and screenprint alike; be aware that there’s apparently some woman swearing in the background of the clip below, so if you’re at work turn the volume down) and tell me this isn’t blowing your skirt up:
See what I mean? The show was an absolute blast to walk through, and there were even a few surprises waiting for us: for one thing, we’d known for a while now that Drake would be releasing a 3-poster Blade Runner series. The Pris piece (see below, along with every other print we’re about to mention) had already been revealed, and most agreed that Drake’s Rachel OG—which, by the way, was sold at that SXSW Gallery show—would probably make a comeback in screenprint form. But who would the third poster be devoted to? Lots of guesses on that one, but very few of us expected to see a Deckard print hanging in the gallery last night.
- Pris, Deckard, and Rachel by Craig Drake
- 24×36” (all three)
- $60 regular edition of 125
The other big shocker—or shockers, plural, I should say—was the handful of incredible OG pieces Drake had for purchase…that didn’t also have screenprinted versions. One thing I witnessed over and over throughout the evening: people would walk into the part of the gallery where Drake’s jaw-droppingly gorgeous Bride of Frankenstein piece was hanging, rush over to it, and then express disappointment that it wasn’t available as a screenprint (although, if you had a spare couple grand lying around, the OG was available…and still is, as far as we know). The same thing happened with Drake’s Snake Plissken piece, and again on his Ripley, and yet again with his take on The Bride from Kill Bill.
I agree that it would’ve been nice to walk outta there last night with a two Brides, a Ripley, and a Snake under one arm, but look at it this way: people said the same thing about Drake’s Rachel OG, and that came back as a print. And to be fair, the rest of Drake’s work was available in both OG and screenprint editions. Perhaps Mondo wanted to gauge the crowd’s reaction to the entire lineup before printing up screenprinted versions of every Drake OG? Or perhaps—and this is what my money’s on—we’ll see one or more of these pop up in the future, much in the same way that Drake’s Rachel OG showed up as a print during last night’s show. As we all know, Mondo works in mysterious ways (no, really, Bono wrote a song about it).
Brandenburg’s side of the Gallery, meanwhile, was truly something to behold. As you’ll hear in the video below, Brandenburg had to track down very specific versions of the posters he wanted to use for this series, and that meant that—just like us—he was sometimes asked to shell out exorbitant sums of money to get the posters he needed…to make artwork…to sell as posters: the Brandenburg OG’s you’ve seen above are all original posters that were hand-finished by him, and it’s striking to see how well his “additions” blend into the originals when you’re looking at the pieces in-person. If you’re going to be anywhere near Austin over the next few weeks (Fantastic Fest-goers, perhaps?), you definitely need to make sure you stop by the Mondo Gallery to see all of this stuff for yourself: it’s absolutely worth the trip.
By the way: since we’ve already shown you every piece in the gallery (along with the spec-cards on all of ‘em), we’re not going to re-post every image from the show. As it happens, we’re suffering from an obnoxious technical issue (read: “iPhone is being all belligerent and shit”), so Limited Paper has borrowed a few of the above images from our buddy Bryan Henderson over at Nerdlocker. If you head on over to that page, you can see non-moving images of every piece from Mondo’s Brandenburg & Drake show, and you totally should: if we’re gonna jack Bryan’s photos, the least we can do is toss him some traffic. Right, everyone? Right (but totally wait until you’re done reading this article).
While everyone was strolling around the gallery, Brandenburg and Drake were both circulating through the crowd, having drinks, signing posters (because I am an idiot, I failed to secure a sketch from Drake while I was there last night; unfortunately for Drake, I’ll now have to demand two sketches from him the next time we cross paths… poor guy), and generally being all-around badasses. At one point, I bullied them into stepping into the back of the Gallery with me to shoot a little Q&A. You can see it below, but I warn you: this is as informal as it gets, and there was much booze involved:
Both of these guys were class acts, and seemed so thrilled to be sharing their work with such an enthusiastic crowd. I stuck around for several hours after the doors opened, and both Brandenburg and Drake were still shaking hands, kissing babies, and sucking down Shiners when I packed it in later in the evening. Judging from the reaction this show received, I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing more work from these guys in the future, and now that we can’t wait to see what they do next. If you’re interested to know more about Brandenburg and Drake’s bodies of work, you oughtta follow those links. Oh, yeah: you can also stay tuned for a pair of follow-up interviews (which we’re guessing won’t be as…inebriated) that Limited Paper’s currently setting up with the pair. Look for those soon!
According to the calendar, it actually hasn’t been that long since Mondo’s last Gallery show, but it certainly felt like it’d been forever on the way down to the show last night. It was fantastic to walk back into that Gallery and see a whole new collection of prints and OG’s, and doubly-fantastic to have found myself so impressed by the work Brandenburg and Drake put into this show. We’re excited to see where they pop up next, and hope that they’ll remember to drop us a line the next time they’ve got something headed our way (hint, hint, Brandenburg and Drake). Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us, guys!
And thanks—as always—to the fine folks at Fons PR and the Mondo Gallery: yet again, a random Friday night was turned into a completely kick-ass experience by this crew, and we continue to be in awe of their ability to surprise us. Another round of thanks, as well, to Nerdlocker’s Bryan Henderson, who totally saved our asses by offering up a few of his exclusive images for this piece: you rock, sir.
If you’re a Mondo fan (surely you wouldn’t have read through the last 1,650 words if you’re a Mondo hater), you’re going to want to keep us on your radar over the next few weeks: things are going to be Mondo-centric here for a while, starting with next week’s Fantastic Fest drops. As we understand it, there’s some seriously cool shit headed our way, and we’ll be keeping you informed as information becomes available/shareable. In the meantime, if you’re a gallery owner with a show you’d like to promote, an artist with a new poster you think we’d like, or just some random yahoo who stumbled into the biggest poster-related scoop ever stumbled across by a random yahoo, you can drop me a line directly via email at LimitedPaper@gmail.com. And if ya don’t have anything to share but you do wanna stay informed? Head on over to this page to follow @LimitedPaper on Twitter: once we hit 1,000 followers, we’re gonna do a badass giveaway! Stay tuned for more, folks!