Bruce White’s Full VELVETMANIA Art Exhibit Online

piper

“Roddy Piper”
$900.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed



Last night was the opening of Chapel Hill, NC painter, Bruce White‘s VELVETMANIA solo exhibit at the world famous, pop-culture focused, Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles.  Those of you that read our preview coverage, which featured an interview with gallery co-owner, Jensen Karp, should already be aware of a couple of things.  The first is that the entire show is comprised of black velvet portraits of classic professional wrestling figures from the 80s and 90s (forty of them total).  The other is that, based on the preview examples that we saw/featured, Bruce really did a remarkable job of capturing the expressions, detail, and the general essence of each and every subject that he’s paying tribute to.  Aside from his day job as a tattoo artist, velvet paintings are what White does, and what he does is pretty fucking amazing.

We’ve done countless art show previews in the past, and numerous interviews, but it’s rare that we feel much of a need to follow up on most of them.  With the nature of VELVETMANIA, however, it feels a lot more necessary.  They did a great job building anticipation for this thing and not revealing which wrestling superstars were going to be showcased, and the ones that they did show, provided just enough of a preview to let us know that they were on the right track and about the high level of quality which could be expected from the results.  With Bruce having a very limited history with the subject matter and Jensen being a fairly hardcore fan of classic pro wrestling–even becoming an actual writer for the WWE for a short period of time about 8 years ago–the gallery owner played a significant role in the selection of the wrestlers chosen; suggesting 50 of his favorites and then letting the painter go to work on research, and selecting the ones that he wanted to take on.  Now the pieces have all been released for view/sale on the website, so that those of us who weren’t in Los Angeles last night, can finally see what all the hype has been leading up to.  Even better, those of us who don’t have the loot to drop on an original piece, can choose a much more affordable giclee print (signed/numbered small run) option–something that I don’t believe White has offered with his other work in the past.

sneak previewFrom our interview, I already knew that there had to be an early Vince McMahon and a Hacksaw Jim Duggan piece, in addition to the ones that we’d already seen.  Based on a sneak preview that White posted way back last July on his Facebook page, which showed the corners of 4 different paintings (pictured left), I could also surmise that there’d be Hulk Hogan, Goldust, and Mankind pieces.  I’m about a year-and a-half older than Jensen Karp and our pop culture references seem to overlap in a lot of ways, so I couldn’t help but make speculations, based on what I felt that I would personally choose to include, if I was in that position.  There had to be an Andre the Giant, a Roddy Piper, and an Iron Sheik–those were a given.  I was hoping for a George the Animal Steele, Junkard Dog, and Captain Lou Albano.  Impact-wise, there should probably also be a Ravishing Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy, Big Boss Man, and Honky Tonk Man.  In the end, they hit every one.  I wondered how obscure it would get and thought about Zeus, aka Tiny “Zeus” Lister who played the role of Deebo in Friday, Hulk Hogan‘s Nemesis in the 1989 film No Holds Barred, and who I actually saw teamed with Randy Macho Man Savage as they battled against Hogan and Brutus The Barber Beefcake at a live event when I was in elementary school living in Fresno.  The fact that there actually is a Zeus painting included in this show was both hilarious and surprising to me.  [An Andy Kaufman painting, however, would have really been the highlight for me.]

But where is Brutus the Barber in this series?  The absence of Randy Macho Man isn’t too much of a surprise, considering that White already painted Savage for a video game tribute at the gallery show back in 2012–that painting, basically led to this show coming to be, in the first place–but Brutus is the one figure that I’m the most surprised is missing, because he seemed like a definite.  Of course, the absence of certain characters only helps open the doors for the possibility of VELVETMANIA 2.  When Jensen mentioned that he’d selected a pool of 50 wrestlers to provide for Bruce choose from, that number seemed incredibly high, and my immediate thoughts were, “50?!  Are there even that many memorable figures to choose from in just that era?”  Then, after looking over the final results, it reminded me how many really standout characters and story lines were actually crafted back then, and it gave me a new found respect for the effort put into this field of entertainment, that so many of us went on to completely write off as childhood nonsense..

This present exhibit is, in all honestly, incredibly spot on–little touches like adding the ultimate”jobber,” the Brooklyn Brawler, was the icing for me–but if I really put my mind to it, I’m sure that I could make some solid guesses about who could find their way into a sequel.  Along with Brutus, how about Jesse The Body Ventura?  Maybe…  Sgt Slaughter  Dusty Rhodes (in the polka dots), Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat (in his wacky dragon costume and/or breathing fire), Rick Martel (with his giant “Arrogance” cologne spray), Tito Santana (in a T-Shirt of himself), or Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (who popularized the figure 4 leg lock)?  Then there are the voices and segment hosts (Mean Gene Okerlund, Gorilla Monsoon, and Brother Love), and all of the managers and valets (Virgil, Miss Elizabeth, Mr Fuji, Bobby The Brain Heenan, etc).  You’ll also notice an absence of tag teams and that there are 2 different, really great versions of Ric Flair.  This raises the point that, if there was a sequel, there are even different eras of the same characters to be exhumed.  Plus, it’s clear that Jensen was a WWF kid like I was–Flair is the only figure in the show that I would really associate with being a NWA/WCW star, primarily–so there’s that whole organization, with characters like Sting, to be mined, if they opted to go that route.

But… that’s just me getting waaay ahead of myself again, because, overall, this exhibit looks to have come out pretty flawlessly.  I’d like to see it sell well, because, if it does, it’s just that much more incentive for them to do a round 2.  And hopefully, it’s off to a good start.  The Ric Flair prints have already disappeared really quickly.  So, if you’re interested in anything, I’ve embedded a hyperlink into the painting titles which leads directly to the purchase page.  You’ll notice that only a handful of the paintings are available in prints (not sure why they chose Paul Bearer over George “The Animal”), with the DiBiase print–limited to a small run of 15–only made available as a gift to the first people through the door at last night’s opening.

So… check out the images below, let us know what you think, who you feel is missing, what prints they should have done, or whatever else comes to mind (like that time you had to go home for biting your friend and tearing up the couch cushions like a turnbuckle).


andre

“Andre The Giant”
$600.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

Animal_300_large

“George the Animal Steele”
$600.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

Bam_300_copy_large

“Bam Bam Bigelow”
$600.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

“Paul Bearer”
$900.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

“Paul Bearer”
$40.00 USD
giclee print
11 x 14 inches
signed and numbered edition of 35

Billy_P_300_copy_large

“Brian Pillman”
$600.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

BossMan_300_large

“Big Boss Man”
$600.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

Brawler_300_copy_large

“Brooklyn Brawler”
$600.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

Diesel_300_large

“Diesel”
$600.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

LouAlbano_300_large

“Captain Lou Albano”
$600.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

Doink_300_copy_large

“Doink the Clown”
$600.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

golddustin

“Goldust”
$900.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

gi gon

“Giant Gonzales”
$900.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

duggan

“Hacksaw Jim Duggan”
$900.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

“Hacksaw Jim Duggan” Print
$40.00 USD
giclee print
11 x 14 inches
signed and numbered edition of 35

Hart_300_large

“Jimmy Hart”
$600.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

Hillybilly_300_copy_large

“Hillbilly Jim”
$600.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

HonkyTonk_300_large

“Honky Tonk Man”
$600.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

hogan

“Hulk Hogan”
$900.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

“Hulk Hogan” Print
$40.00 USD SOLD OUT
giclee print
11 x 14 inches
signed and numbered edition of 35

sheik

“Iron Sheik”
$900.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

“Iron Sheik” Print
$40.00 USD
giclee print
11 x 14 inches
signed and numbered edition of 35

JohnStudd_300_large

“Big John Studd”
$600.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

JunkYardDog_300_large

“Junkyard Dog”
$900.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

KingKong_300_large

“King Kong Bundy”
$600.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

flair derp

“Ric Flair”
$600.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

RickRude_300_large

“Rick Rude”
$600.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

“Rocky Maivia”
$600.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

SuperflySnuka_300_large

“Jimmy Superfly Snuka”
$900.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

vince

“Vince McMahon”
$600.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

“Zeus”
$900.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

mankind

“Mankind”
$900.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

“Vader”
$600.00 USD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

WOO!

“Wooo!”
$900.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

“Wooo!” Print
$40.00 USD SOLD OUT
giclee print
11 x 14 inches
signed and numbered edition of 35

brett hart

“Bret Hitman Hart”
$900.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

“Bret Hitman Hart” Print
$40.00 USD SOLD OUT
giclee print
11 x 14 inches
signed and numbered edition of 35

heartbreak kid

“Shawn Michaels”
$900.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

jake-the-snake

“Jake The Snake Roberts”
$900.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

“Jake The Snake Roberts” Print
$40.00 USD SOLD OUT
giclee print
11 x 14 inches
signed and numbered edition of 35

Razor Ramone

“Razor Ramon”
$900.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

“Razor Ramon” Print
$40.00 USD
giclee print
11 x 14 inches
signed and numbered edition of 35

undetaker

“Undertaker”
$900.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

ted dibiase

Ted DiBiase
$600.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
11 x 14 inches
framed

(DiBiase giclee print limited to a run of 15.  Presented for free to the first 15 people who attended the opening.)

Ultimate Warrior

“Ultimate Warrior”
$900.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

“Ultimate Warrior” Print
$40.00 USD SOLD OUT
giclee print
11 x 14 inches
signed and numbered edition of 35

“Koko B Ware”
$900.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

“Koko B Ware” Print
$40.00 USD
giclee print
11 x 14 inches
signed and numbered edition of 35

Mr Perfect

“Mr Perfect”
$900.00 USD SOLD
acrylic on velvet
14 x 18 inches
framed

Dead C

Located in Seattle, Dead C is the founder/editor, as well as the principal writer and photographer, of Monster Fresh. Creating the site in 2007, he did so with a specific dream in mind. Unfortunately, being a muscle relaxer-fueled fever dream, it’s hard to recall all of the details.

I remember that my mom was there, but it wasn’t actually her in the dream, it was actually 70s heart throb, Jan Michael Vincent. And everything took place here, in this room… but it wasn’t actually here… it was different. The colors were washed out and, for some reason, there was a raccoon kicking it with us and it was wearing a holographic monocle.

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