There was a point a few years ago where Shelby Gubba's little monsters seemed to be popping up everywhere. They were on the posters of club shows around town. On the walls of local galleries (as well as one in Tokyo). There was even a commissioned 3D piece she did of a mustachioed “Safe Sex Ninja” kicking the butt of sexually transmitted infection (it's way cuter than it sounds). Still, she'll be the first to admit that it's been a while since her curious creatures have been anywhere else but in her mind.
“Over a year ago, I got a promotion at my job at Planned Parenthood and I was just throwing all my energy into that,” says Gubba, who says she got out of the habit of consistently producing art. “I love my job, but I'm just in a great mental space now. It's just so easy to drop off the map and to stop doing something, but now I'm mostly just focusing on staying focused. Consistently putting stuff out.”
This new focus will be on display at QTOD, a new show at Disclosed Unlocation Gallery in South Park (1925 30th St.) that opens Saturday, Sept. 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. The show will feature more than 100 (“my crazy goal is 150,” says Gubba) new, sketchbook-style works, all of which were made on baseball card-sized paper using pens and markers. Gubba says the cards will be scattered all over the walls in a disorganized fashion to give viewers a sense of what it feels like to be in her head. As for the creatures themselves, well, they're fun. Take one part Daniel Johnston's iconic “Hi, how are you?” drawing, throw in some Don Hertzfeldt animation, and top it with the childlike whimsy of illustrators like Elise Gravel and Geof Darrow, and it's easy to see why Gubba's drawings are popular with kids and adults alike.
“Some of it's weird and kind of kooky, but nothing scary,” says Gubba, who is also working on a new album with The Dabbers, a band she started with her husband Zack Wentz. “Whether I like it or not, my work seems to be very kid-friendly. I don't like scary stuff. The darkest I'll ever go is a little vampire bat and even he'll be holding a beer and wearing a baseball cap.”