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Review: Mad about 'Famous Fiction: Places and Things'

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 16, 2012 - The Mad Art Gallery is calling you. Why? Because it is, by its very nature, one of the coolest places around. Housed in a 1930s Art Deco police station, positioned just north of the historic Anheuser-Busch brewery in Soulard, the gallery is better designed than any set for theater or film noir.

Most Mad Art visitors go to an exhibit’s opening event, which tend to be happenings of the first order. The opening event for the sixth(!) installment of the annual Famous Fiction art show was a typically heady affair.

Peter Pranschke’s brilliant Bullwinkle the Moose and Rocky the Flying Squirrel is assembled from found plastic bottles and wooden dowel rods. And “Holy Smoke! Bullwinkle!” those two Cold War comedians are perfectly, uncannily recognizable.

Among the seriously unserious artwork is Chris Roettger’s fictional map of the land in the 1987 film, The Princess Bride. As you wish” is embroidered across the snow, sand and water between the lands of Florin and Guilder, just as every fan of the movie would wish it.

The Famous Fictional Prosthetics by Matt Ready are delightfully clever with the visor of Geordi Lafarge from Star Trek, Next Generation plus devices identified as having once belonged to Baron Ünderbheit, Dr. Klawn and Edward Scissorhands. Monica Heitz’s “Beetlejuice scene in a shadow box, The Last Sandworm, is another celebration of 1980s cinema classics that hits its mark.

Anchovy Sciarrino’s TRON series - Pink Light Cycle, Green Light Cycle, Orange Light Cycle - uses neon spray paint to illuminate perfectly banal landscape lithographs that Sciarrino found at thrift stores. Sciarrino’s work, like many of the odd offerings of this marvelous show, reminds us that, at least in our fictional futuristic creations, the future will contain all sorts of things you have forgotten from the past.

Because Mad Art Gallery relies largely on private events, visitors are admitted only by appointment. Don’t let that deter you. This exhibit is just too fun. Get a small group together or just be bold and go it alone, but go! And keep an eye out for the next Mad Art Happening. These are not to be missed.

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