I realize that it might not hold much weight coming from someone that’s been watching vintage episodes of Thundercats with their 5-year-old son all morning, but an overwhelming amount of the time, these days, it feels as if all of this throwback 1980s pop-culture nostalgia may have burned itself out a looooong time ago. Not everything deserves a tribute — let alone, a full-on television or film franchise reboot — but everything definitely seems to be getting one. Maybe it’s time to focus a little more on the present folks, creating things now and moving forward so that we actually have something to look back on when the future does arrive. Or, better yet, maybe it’s just time that we start becoming a little more selective and careful about what we choose to resurrect and how we choose to resurrect it.
Since 2004, Gallery 1988 has been at the forefront of the pop-culture game hosting themed art exhibits in Los Angeles, even expanding to two separate locations. Last Friday (St Patricks Day), they opened a new group exhibit at their WEST location that either proves that there is definitely still some territory worth continuing to chart in that 80s nostalgia world, or that it’s simply a matter of personal taste — if it’s something that I like, then it’s incredible and amazing, but if it’s something that I don’t care for, it’s fucking garbage. That being said, “Don’t Cry, Mac” A Tribute to Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, tackles what became a legitimate cultural phenomenon. When the game was first released 30 years ago (yep, it’s been 30 years), it felt as if the Nintentdo Entertainment System had reached a new pinnacle and that home gaming, itself, had turned a corner into something that was unquestionably here to stay. There was plenty brilliant about Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!!, but aside from being credited as bringing arcade style gameplay to the home console, it has also been praised as being a puzzle game disguised as a sports game. Because of that, elements of the game have embedded themselves within us in very specific ways, as players trained themselves to mastered particular patterns, so as to progress through each level. In fact, I remember that, around 1999 or 2000, an old friend of mine got so spun out on MDMA that he couldn’t remember anything, including his own name; but the one thing that he could definitely recall was the code to reach Mike Tyson. You can wipe a human hard drive, but some things are so ingrained that they aren’t coming clean.
G1988 may have been one of the first to really embrace pop-culture art, but it’s a trend that has spread to more and more galleries hosting similar exhibits; some with tremendous results, and others not quite as successfully. Because of this, we’ve seen a lot of stuff come through and, unfortunately, they can often feel like rehashed material or, even worse, like a reach toward something that never should have been attempted in the first place. Galleries often pull from a similar group of returning artists, as well, and not everyone has the same reference points or interests, which can result in uneven shows where some of the artists’ work feels less invested, or like they just couldn’t manage to dig in and find their own spin on something they aren’t that connected to. And that’s the point of these themed group shows, to witness various artists providing new interpretations of a subject, and why, when it works, it’s such a beautiful thing. G1988 is known for their annual Crazy4Cult show, an always successful event offering a bigger, more inclusive tent covering a broader and looser scope in the “pop culture” realm, but we’ve also seen general video game themed shows, or even 8-bit style exhibits from them, and others over the years. You might expect broader parameters like that to inherently bring more variety, but by hyper focusing on one specific subject, like “Don’t Cry, Mac” is doing, the opposite seems to be proving true; quite remarkable for a game where the majority of the characters are recycled templates from other characters in the game. I like to believe that G1988 has pulled off another show where the subject really struck a chord with the contributors and brought something out in them, but the truth may be that it’s just dear enough to me as an individual that I’m the one it’s striking a chord with on a personal level. Either way… it doesn’t really matter. Paint all the goofy shit you want that doesn’t do anything for me; as long as I get a Punch Out!!!, or something like a Harmony Korine tribute here and there, I’ll be happy. This is a good one.
As always, it’s a completely different experience when you’re able to catch the art up close, so if you’re in the Los Angeles area, we definitely recommend trying to get yourself down there and get up in them guts.
Check out a selection of sample images for the exhibit below the following event details…
“Don’t Cry, Mac”
a tribute to Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
Friday, May 17th 2017
Saturday, April 1st 2017
Gallery 1988 (West)
7308 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, Ca 90046
Open to ALL AGES
The gallery is open from 11 – 6pm from Wednesday – Sunday.
A full list of pieces are available for view and purchase now at G1998.com