Two years ago, Long Beach artist Dave Van Patten organized a group art show to feature some of his favorite local contemporaries. The show, titled “HaHa Cloud Machine,” brought together weirdo illustrators from Los Angeles and Long Beach to display humorous and surreal works of art. As if attempting to bridge the divide between the Los Angeles and Long Beach arts communities wasn’t ambitious enough, Van Patten took it a step further and accomplished what many would assume was the impossible – showcasing drawings from legendary, reclusive singer-songwriter, Daniel Johnston. Other artists that year included the likes of cartoonist Matt Furie and Witchsy co-founder Penelope Gazin.
On May 11, Van Patten will return with another art show, this time titled “Blah-Blah Cloudmachine,” featuring artists from all around the world. Despite the similar name, this year’s show is quite different from the previous humor-themed one. “I just decided to pick the same types of illustrators and painters but just kinda eliminate the theme altogether,” Van Patten says, “So it really is just kinda like curating [a] vibe.”
With a mix of pop surrealist, indy comic, and lowbrow work, there’s no doubt that this years show will bring along a unique atmosphere. This is especially true because of the eclectic lineup that Van Patten has selected for this year. Not only is there a large stylistic variety, but many of these artists are coming from different parts of the world. For example, JANGOJIM is a psychedelic Wes Anderson-esque illustrator from Belgium, Sio Gallagher is a light-hearted comic book artist from New York, and Helen Li is a nostalgic, yet unmistakably contemporary illustrator from Australia. These are just a few of the artists who will be displaying their work this Saturday. “I didn’t want to reuse all the same artists as the last show,” Van Patten explains, “And these last couple years, thanks to Instagram, I developed friendships with artists from all over the place.” Canada, England, Wales, San Francisco, and of course, Long Beach will also be represented.
It’s safe to say that this is the first and possibly only time that all of these artists will be under the same roof. With the event evolving from a local showcase into an international convention for the bizarre, humorous, and grotesque. “It’s not all super gross,” Van Patten assures, “but I guess they have similar personalities in their work.”
Despite the various changes from the previous show, this year’s will take place at the same venue: MADE by Millworks. “They’ve been really cool and good to me.” Van Patten says, “They also happen to have a pretty big gallery space, a bar, and a boutique. In my opinion, it’s the best place Long Beach has to offer.” The night’s soundtrack will be provided by DJ Dennis Owens and there will be opportunities to purchase some of the featured artists’ work.
“Blah-Blah Cloudmachine” is a manifestation of art’s ability to transcend national borders and personal backgrounds. As Van Patten puts it, “Some of them are more gross and psychedelic, some of them are kinda quaint, some of them are straight up, total avante garde, but they’re all great artists in the indy comic world.”
Blah-Blah Cloudmachine at MADE by Millworks, 236 Pine St., Long Beach. Saturday, May 11, 7-10 p.m.