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Adventure Time! Tributes to the Land of Ooo at Gallery Nucleus

posted Aug 20, 2012, 11:35 PM by Douglas Sun

I probably should have spent Sunday afternoon working on press releases for Bushi-go; instead, I went down to Gallery Nucleus to check out "Ootopia," their current show devoted to "Adventure Time With Finn & Jake" tribute art. But hey, why not, when Google Analytics is telling me that far and way, the majority of impressions that I'm getting in search come from a year-old post on Nucleus' first "Adventure Time" exhibition? 

Granted that a lot of those searches come from sick little monkeys searching for pictures of the main characters having sex with each other. But even so, you take your exposure where you can get it.

On the whole, "Ootopia" is a worthwhile amusement for "Adventure Time" fans. Some of the pieces are quite intriguing, like this plush statuette of Princess Bubblegum. But it didn't excite me in the way that last year's show (which consisted mostly of actually production art) did. Even though some of the artists represented work on the animated series and on the Kaboom! comic books, it's basically a show of high-level fan art. It establishes little else except that there are some skilled artists out there who seem to watch a lot of "Adventure Time."

I was actually more interested by what's going on in the upstairs space, where it appears that Gothic kawaii artist Junko Mizuno is trying to sell original manuscript pages from her Hansel & Gretel graphic novel. I don't think that Mizuno's work is quite my cup of tea, but I am curious enough to maybe buy some of her graphic novels so I can read them at leisure.

As for my assertion that nothing in "Ootopia" would show the characters having sex with each other, I may have to pull back on that a bit. In Natasha Alegri's "Marcegum," it does look like Princess Bubblegum and Marceline the Vampire Queen are kissing. Note, however, how PB is masculinized here — she stands upright with her rather broad-looking shoulders thrust back. She's also more Prince Charming than the Bubblegum Princess, with a military-style tunic and rapier in Rebeca Sugar's "Lady and Peebles."

Call me a prude if you must, but I can't say that I approve, except as an ironic comment on the excesses of fanfic, like the Fiona and Cake episode. Gender-bending Princess Bubblegum is little more than willful perversity; part of the exquisite charm of "Adventure Time" comes from the way in which the relationship between Finn and PB distorts traditional gender roles and social hierarchy to comic effect. Turn Princess Bubblegum into a guy, and you neutralize that dynamic.

But be that as it may. Gallery Nucleus always plays host with exquisite panache, and if anything, they've exceeding themselves with "Ootopia." In addition to the opening night festivities (which I deliberately missed, to avoid the crowd), they marked opening weekend by posting handwritten notes along the route that visitors would follow from the closest parking lots, including:

They look like something out of a guerrilla marketing campaign, but they're really handbills to greet "Adventure Time" fans coming to Gallery Nucleus' "Ootopia" show, They were posted on a neighboring bank building, like a trail of breadcrumbs showing the way from the parking lots in back. I suspect that they will be gone by the time the bank opens for business on Monday.

I thought these two were the most clever. The one of the left refers to the episode "Marceline's Closet," and the other one to the Christmas episode where Finn and Jake snake Ice King's stash of home videos.