Comic-Con is a deep dive into obsession, and Mark Murphy's obsessed with connecting artists to audiences. An independent curator, graphic designer, book publisher and college instructor, Murphy has curated 13 art shows during Comic-Con over the years.
For 2014, he pitched the NewSchool of Architecture and Design on a two-quarter course for its Media Design School of Digital Arts. Since March, a small team of students has worked alongside him, learning how to recruit artists, find sponsors, rehab space and build a new mechanism for creative people to display their work.
The result is ArtExpo—part pop-up gallery, part commercial exhibit and part artist support group. Murphy calls it "an alternative creative fair."
ArtExpo takes over a chunk of East Village's Wonder Bread Factory (121 14th St.) from Thursday, July 24, through Saturday, July 26. The first floor features 47 artists working in lowbrow, graphic narrative, outsider and comic art.
The Klines wrapped a one-fourth-scale model tank in comics that illustrate stories gathered from local military men and women, presenting them in the visual language of heroism and strength. The Klines love to play with contrasts, balancing the harsh reality of war with the escapism of entertainment.
Hartsten and Warren—who goes by theCUBEartist—used 510 Rubik's-style "magic cubes" to construct "Kiss Me You Fool," an oversized, pixelated image in bright colors. Each cube was solved before being placed in the mosaic, a process that took 33 hours.
On the second floor of ArtExpo, visitors can chat with artists, watch painting demonstrations, attend a book signing and browse booths filled with jewelry, graphic novels, prints and collectibles.
Murphy expects to have more than 150 artists represented.
ArtExpo fills the same niche as Berkeley-based pop-up Tr!ckster, which is sitting Comic-Con out this year. Both ventures provide a cozy, informal atmosphere, a place to sip a local beer while discovering new artists.
All three days of ArtExpo are free to the public. Thursday's VIP event includes a talk with Pasadena illustrator Mark Todd and a film premiere from Houston artist JooYoung Choi. To register, search for #ArtExpoSD on Facebook and follow the instructions, or register at the door.