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July 21 2014 05:44 PM

Weird and sordid superheroes on parade at Space 4 Art

Sam Lopez
Stay Strange curator Sam Lopez
Photo by Kinsee Morlan

Sam Lopez is most known for blurring the line between art and music through his ongoing Stay Strange series, which presents avant-garde, experimental sounds to audiences at dive bars, libraries, parks and other venues.

For the first time ever, the performance artist, who makes noise-music under the name Zsa Zsa Gabor and carries around a sound-making "bag of tricks"—a backpack stuffed with large knives, a human skull and other nontraditional instruments—decided to tap into his community of artists and musicians and put together an outsider-art exhibition for the Comic-Con crowd.

In his tiny studio in Mission Valley, Lopez is surrounded by wall-to-wall instruments and music equipment—both the standard variety and weird, hand-made noise machines. There's art stacked atop the music gear, work by local artists that's been trickling in for his upcoming Seal of Disapproval: Deviancy & Delinquency exhibition opening at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 26, inside the backyard classroom at Space 4 Art (325 15th St., East Village).

Lopez picks up what looks like an electrical-outlet box, turns it on and delights in making strange noises come out of it. His attention eventually shifts to a hand-made book by his friend, artist M.J. Stevens, an illustrated series called Screwed-Up Superheroes. Lopez explains that the funny little book is the inspiration for the art show.

"The superheroes, there's no real warrantable reason for their powers," he laughs, flipping through the pages before stopping on a few of his favorite anti-heroes. "This guy, he's the self-hitter. That's his power; he hits himself... [The book is filled with] twisted superheroes who aren't exactly your rock-solid kind of people."

Several of Stevens' newest drawings of atypical superheroes will hang in the show alongside abstracted, distorted, Francis Bacon-inspired portraits of superheroes and villains by the prolific painter Larry Caveney, an artist who made it his mission to complete at least one painting every day.

"There's something wrong with them," Lopez says, pointing to one of Caveney's particularly creepy paintings of Thor. "That's interesting to see the cracked superhero, and it's something that I wanted to focus on."

Other artists who made new work to fit the deviant-superhero theme include Vanessa Martinez and TENSHUN. Shock performance artist XR will present a sound piece and sell limited-edition comic books. Suggested donation is $5.



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