While its subtle intricacies and cinematic brilliance are often not discussed in coffee houses and college film classes, a recent viewing of Revenge of the Nerds 2: Nerds in Paradise left me strangely analytical. If you missed ROTN2, well, first, shame on you. Second, you should know that at the end of the film, the character named Ogre, who spent the entire first movie and most of the second torturing our pocket-protected heroes, becomes a nerd himself after the villainous Alpha Beta fraternity forsakes him.
For any film buff, it was a plot twist of epic proportions, on a par with Fredo's betrayal of brother Michael in The Godfather Part II and with the end of The Usual Suspects. And if anything, it's illustrative of that old Sigmund Freud quote: “Deep within our subconscious, in all of us, lies a geek.”
OK, so I actually made that quote up, but it's true: Whether it's wine, music, your My Little Pony collection or the fact that you know who played right field for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1953, everyone has what I like to call a geekitude.“We embrace what we love, and we do it without ever thinking who would buy these things,” says Amy Brotherton who, along with husband Greg, are showing me a life-size sculptural piece by Jeremy E. Mayer that's assembled entirely out of old typewriter parts.
On the day we meet, the Brothertons are preparing to open their second show at Device Gallery (www.devicegallery.com) since moving the gallery from La Jolla to the Glashaus building in Barrio Logan in January. Huge wooden crates lie about the room holding sculptural works by national and international artists like Lewis Hardy, Olivier Pauwels and Michihiro Matsouka. Keeping with the theme of the show, Assembled Artifacts—which opens with a reception from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 18—the works are made from found objects and are extremely sci-fi in nature. The Brothertons are self-proclaimed geeks, and having worked in L.A. for years in the comic-book and film industries before opening Device Gallery, they know their bread-and-butter clientele.
“They're mostly younger, in their 30s to 40s, and they probably grew up with a lot more pop culture,” Amy says. “You have people that love science fiction and comic books but—”
“A lot of creative-types,” Greg interrupts. “Directors and writers, animators, CEOs of giant companies.”
“But also doctors, architects, scientists,” Amy adds. “So, I think that it's a broad spectrum who appreciate the creative aspect of these pieces.”
The Assembled Artifacts show will also serve as an opportunity for Device to release its second book, Vol. 2: Reconstructed.
While Device Gallery is opening its show the weekend before Comic-Con, Dylan Jones, co-owner of Subtext Gallery in Little Italy (www.subtextgallery.com), is planning a reception the weekend of the convention.
“We've always tried to tailor the shows at Subtext around what's happening in San Diego at the time,” Dylan tells me at the Subway restaurant across from the gallery. “We did a shoe show during ASR”—the Action Sports Retailer convention—“and our last two group shows during Comic-Con were toy shows. But we said, ‘Let's change it up and do something different.'”
That “something different” is Meanwhile... at the Hall of Justice, which opens with a reception from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, July 24, and continues through the weekend. Yes, the show has a direct comic-book theme, with more than 50 local and international artists interpreting both classic and obscure action characters in a variety of media. However, the works are not scenes of the characters engaged in battle with arch-nemeses but, rather, doing things that would never be seen on the illustrated page.
“We wanted to put a twist on it,” Dylan says, “have it be like superheroes on an off-day or superhero mishaps. It can be anything. It can be incriminating or just something like a character ironing their cape on an off day. We told the artists to interpret it the way they wanted to, so we're gonna see a full spectrum, I think. The ones we've gotten in already are pretty funny.”
So far, for example, he's seen Dr. Doom passing out ice-cream cones to little children, Captain America getting drunk at a bar, The Incredible Hulk playing violin and Wonder Woman plunging a toilet.
Local artist Kelly Vivanco—who'll also be part of a Subtext show with Jason Limon called Under the Cover of Darkness opening the week after Meanwhile...—is known for her vivid paintings of young girls and birds, and this style extends to her piece depicting the X-Men character Rogue.
“I didn't want to make her like the movie or like the comic-book Rogue,” Vivanco says about her work that shows the character holding a dead bird. “She's kind of a compelling character because whatever she touches, she steals power from it. It's one of those, ‘Oops, I didn't mean to' kind of moments. Her character always stuck with me. Comic characters all have their flaws, but she has this kind of vulnerability that I like.”
Meanwhile (pun intended), back at the Bat Cave-resembling Glashaus, the Brothertons tell me that they just sold Mayer's typewriter statue to Ripley's Believe it or Not and that at one of their past shows, they sold Belgian artist Stephane Halleux's “Batman Begins 2” piece to renowned comic-book artist Jim Lee for a hefty sum.
“I think the people that come here and the people that buy stuff do it out of pure love,” Amy says. “I remember when Jim Lee was here and he was like a kid in a candy store. He turned to his girlfriend and said, ‘This is like you being in a shoe store!'”