Over the weekend, the historic Mission Inn Hotel will be transformed into a hub of the current pop surrealist art scene, hosting the Baby Tattooville event. Featuring such heavyweights as Gary Baseman, Luke Chueh, Frank Kozik, Tara McPherson, Lola (born and raised in Riverside), and Riverside resident Jeff Soto, Baby Tattooville bills itself as “a unique opportunity for a small group of celebrated artists and serious collectors to spend time together in a relaxed yet creatively stimulating environment.” This description falls way short of capturing how cool the activities (and SWAG!) will be.
Baby Tattooville is more than your average gallery event, with high-profile artist names making for a pretty flier. The weekend festivities include workshops, seminars, socials, demonstrations and exclusive giveaways. Things kick off with a Jeffrey Scott (of Factory 1019) photo shoot and digital manipulation, which if his August 2003 Dark Matter Magazine work is any indication, will both captivate and slightly creep out attendees. Coupled with a James Jean life drawing session (whose art is thought provoking and slightly unsettling) and some quality time with Lola (of lolastrangeart.com, who masterfully captures creatures disturbingly cute and disproportioned), the tone will be immediately set: this weekend isn’t about your mother’s art (although even she could appreciate the obligatory arrival gift basket—that is, at least until she peeks inside).
Saturday the sponsors grab a bit of the limelight, with Munky King (who recently put out their first toy of featured-artist Luke Chueh) and STRANGEco giveaways. The freebies are followed by a sponsor-artist team-up, with Diesel Fuel hosting a Tara McPherson screen-printing (attendees receive homemade prints). James Jean will host another life drawing session and Ragnar (art that marries ‘70s kitsch, robots, and The Incredibles) will do a sculpting, molding, and casting demo, where the audience will walk away more knowledgeable, and with an original art object. Everyone then will field trip to Jeff Soto’s studio for a bit of behind-the-scenes action.
When I spoke with Jeff, he was just about ready for the invasion of his creative space, with “mostly, just some sweeping left to do.” If the experience is anything like the artist’s preview for his Storm Clouds show, his guests will experience not only a clean studio, but they will have an opportunity to get to know the man personally, how both current events and the past influence his work, and sneak a look at his jealousy-inducing vinyl toy collection. The evening then continues with a trip to IE purveyor of pop surrealism M Modern in Palm Springs for the Joe Ledbetter art show opening and winds up with a Gris Grimly short film screening.
Sunday closes with a Pop Cling presentation of the All-artist Art-Jam Giclee and of course, distribution of merchandise packages. While the event comes with a hefty price of $1,499.00, with all the original art, one-on-one experiences, plus a couple nights stay at the Mission Inn and brunch (mimosas!), it is hard to say that the cost isn’t justified. For next year’s event, start eBaying those blind-box duplicates early, as Baby Tattooville is surely going to grow. (Shaun Rosenstein)