We made it to Tokyo and headed straight to The _____ Gallery (pronounced The Blank Gallery, get it?) on a Thursday afternoon. We deposited 6 oil paintings, 2 wood pieces, 2 huge drawings on pink pussy paper and 100 or so prints that would comprise the first Art Crisis gallery show; “Lux Illuminaria” a collection of artwork by American Blackheart, the moniker adopted by Strung Out frontman Jason Cruz.
It took 3 over-sized boxes full of art, 5 months of planning and a set of fake “Media Passes” to present at the airport for us to be able to exhibit Jason Cruz’s art in Shibuya, Tokyo on a lukewarm Monday night. May 16th 2016 to be exact.
“Yeah, we’re a film crew shooting a documentary in Tokyo” - That line will get you a hefty discount on oversized bags if you have the right look, mediocre photoshop skills, and the will to go to kinko’s and get the “passes” Laminated.
The Shibuya district and Jason’s art went well together. The streets were covered with humans and machines that co-existed in a sort of Earthly surrealism. Tangible elements in a fantastic setting. Cranes, billboards, suits, cosplay, mannequins and sex.
Inside the gallery, the crowd flowed in a steady stream all night to enjoy art. People canvassed the walls carefully analyzing 8 original oil pieces and 4 different prints displayed in frames. Jason had also been drawing on huge brown paper all night in front of the attendees. 3 or 4 lucky observers were treated to the end results. It felt communal.
While the ambiance was good and the chatter was lively, the art did most of the talking. “God Machine #47” seemed to entrance viewers into a mind controlling, sci-fi nightmare that was both disturbing and erotic.
“Mistress of the house of books” adorned the poster for the show and was also the first to find a home. She stood creepily holding a pink plush teddy bear, a vision of evil and innocence that will either make you uncomfortable or aroused. Perfect for a Japanese audience.
Other pieces like “Fat Mike versus the vacuum” tied things back into Jason’s life as a singer and a 20 year Fat Wreck alumni. “Kult” took you into a sort of “Francis Ford Coppola” spy scene. While “Priestess in the House of Morphine” seemed to invite you into a drug infused sexual bender.
Jason was in his true waters. Putting on a show, brush and markers instead of mics and speakers. He commanded the floor while sharing his vision of a dystopian future, where half humans with television heads, and nude demonesses served your vices out of the palms of their hands.
By the end of the night we were drunk. On wine and on the experience. Our friend and the gallery owner Yuki san shut off the lights and we headed outside. Night covered Tokyo and we walked back to our hotel amidst construction and people. Arigatou everybody.