Wet Paint hasn't dried up yet

This local shop and gallery is a portrait of success

 by Si Robins
 published on Thursday, September 21, 2006

Jeremiah Armenta / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
Local artist Dubstar3000 displays a collaborative piece he did with artists Dumperfoo and Breeze. (Left) Dubstar3000 wearing a paper bag spray-painted with his signature symbol. He says he wants to call out to all those who are unplugged from society through his artwork.

Scattered among the tubes of paint and stacks of LPs, "Big Lebowski"-themed bowling pins line the walls.
Welcome to Wet Paint Art Supply and Gallery.

The Tempe store and gallery is proudly displaying the final remnants from the summer's popular Final Friday "Big Lebowski" gallery show, based on the 1998 cult film.

Unfortunately, the Lebowski show will be one of Wet Paint's last at its current location. Three more crowd-pleasing Final Friday events are in the works for the fall semester, before Wet Paint moves to a new location.

The art supply store will be moving to University Drive and Ash Avenue near the first of the year. The gallery is also opening a new location in downtown Phoenix and will be participating in the First Friday art walks.

Twenty pieces from the Lebowski show have sold, which explains the relative lack of art left to view.

September's show will present collaborational artwork (multiple artists on one canvas) featuring local artist Dubstar3000, whose Disposable Hero project has been featured on the streets of the Valley.

"With Disposable Hero we set out exploring the sociological interaction of a non consumption ideal by using a mass repeat imaging campaign to evoke public response," Dubstar says.

Live music, including jazz, soul, funk and rock will be performed at the "colab" show.

The mixed mediums of collaborative artwork will provide attendees a chance to see something out of the ordinary.

"This allows the people of Tempe to be exposed to other artists that they may have not heard of or had a chance to see firsthand," Dubstar says.

The gallery employees are hoping to duplicate the summer triumph of the Lebowski show, which was a surprising success. Lebowski-themed paintings, sketches and decorated bowling pins (an ode to the film's bowling-alley subplot) were submitted.

During the show, the movie was screened, local band Slapdash performed in full Lebowski character attire and refreshments were served. Wet Paint employee Ryan Roberts estimates 200 or 300 people attended. "This place was packed, solid people," Roberts says. "The response blew us away."

October's show has become an annual Halloween celebration.

"[The] October [show] always falls near Halloween," says Wet Paint employee Clay Elliott. "It gives the local artists who do really dark art a chance to showcase."

Based on the Lebowski show's success, another movie-themed show is in the works. This time the film is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

The Fear and Loathing show on Nov. 24 will be the final show at Wet Paint's current location at Forest Avenue and Seventh Street. The entire neighborhood was recently sold and will be converted for new use, pushing out other businesses in the area.

"We definitely want to keep both of these entities {the store and the gallery} going, but this way we can cover more ground now," Elliott says.

After three years of pioneering Final Fridays in the downtown Tempe area, Wet Paint will finally be able to join Phoenix's successful arts community.

"We haven't had much luck getting some of the other businesses involved in Final Fridays," Elliott says. "It will be nice to go to Phoenix and fit in, instead of trying to build something by ourselves here."

Wet Paint is looking to take successful elements from the Lebowski show and apply them to Fear and Loathing.

"Since Fear and Loathing will be our last show [at Wet Paint], we want to try to get all of the artists who have shown in our past shows involved with that," Elliott says.

A screening of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" will accompany the pieces of art, followed by a performance by Tempe funk/hip-hop group Drunken Immortals. The group features visual talent from Wet Paint employee Dumperfoo. He creates art as the band performs.

"Our first themed show [Lebowski] was so successful and inspiring," Roberts says. "These last three shows are huge. We're just going to build on [past success] and try to make these even better."

Reach the reporter at: si.robins@asu.edu.



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