We know you’ve heard of found art. Now, meet LOST art. No, it’s not some new, conceptual trend. It’s art inspired by J.J. Abrams’ cultish (yet somehow also wildly popular) television drama. And Los Angeles’ Gallery1988 has devoted an entire show to it. (Fans, be advised: It just opened last week but will close Christmas Eve, so get thee to the gallery soon if you mean to check it out in person.) Of course, as with all things LOST-related, an entire web of online intrigue has already been spun around it — and it involves comedian Paul Scheer!
At the center of this intrigue is Jensen Karp, Gallery1988’s owner and the guy who collaborated with the folks at LOST to create the mysterious DamonCarltonAndAPolarBear.com campaign that inspired the art show. After the jump, we talk with Karp about the exhibition and select our six favorite pieces.
How did the LOST Underground Art Show come about?
Almost two years ago we (Gallery1988) did a show with Mattel celebrating Hot Wheels’ 40th Anniversary where artists customized blank Hot Wheels vans in their own styles. One artist, Jon Burgerman, unintentionally made his van look a lot like the Dharma Van and it was featured on some websites. This caught the eye of two LOST producers, Samantha Thomas and Noreen O’Toole, who attended the show just to see what it was all about. We started talking and ideas starting flying around, as I admitted I was a die-hard fan of the show.
Over the next year, Sam, Noreen and I (and incredibly the show’s executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and ABC’s marketing division) fine-tuned this idea to become The Underground Lost Art Project, which kicked off at Comic Con 2009 during the LOST panel with Paul Scheer unveiling the Damon, Carlton and Polar Bear black vinyl painting (and launching DamonCarltonAndAPolarBear.com). This kicked off a 16 part scavenger hunt which led fans to 16 different limited edition screenprints (now all sold out) celebrating the top water cooler moments of the show and, in the end, the Gallery1988 art show.
Why do you think artists have been so inspired by LOST?
Only a few times in my lifetime have we seen television as art. Shows like LOST, Twin Peaks, Sopranos, Six Feet Under and Mad Men are few and far between. Shows that not only entertain, but inspire. But what makes LOST even better than these other shows, in my mind, is that it forces the viewer to use their imagination [and] creativity. This crazy island hasn’t given us many answers yet, but we’ve sure made up our own. And I think a show that lends itself to such possibilities is an easy pick for an artist. What better show to come up with your imagery for: One that hasn’t given you all the imagery yet. And the show is just so well done and exciting, I think it asks the viewer to come up with their own theories, which can (and did) make for some awesome paintings and posters.
Do fans seem interested in buying LOST-related art? Which pieces are they responding to the most?
Very much so! You can see all the artwork at lostundergroundartshow.blogspot.com and we’re selling work every day still. Not to mention when we would release a new poster at DamonCarltonAndAPolarBear.com, the just under 200 copies we had would sell out in less than a minute. The opening reception had over 1,200 people walk through and almost 300 people buy something there. It was our most successful show in Gallery1988’s six-year history, in that way.
The posters seem to still be the most popular part of the project, but as far as the original artwork — people love Scott Campbell’s Showdown series [posted above]. Scott is a huge LOST fan, so he was so excited to create pieces for the show. And he ended up making 24 different 5×5 Showdown pieces, where a classic confrontation from the show has been depicted in a funny, minimal [style] (which he’s known for), and every one of them is better than the next. I think we only have two left for sale.
What other TV shows do you think would lend themselves to an art show?
Not too many. And the ones I do think lend themselves might already be talking to us, so it’s a secret.
Finally — the big question — do you have any predictions for the next season of LOST?
During this whole campaign I’ve had to work in the LOST offices a lot — which as a superfan of the show has been a dream come true. But it also had me running down the halls making sure nothing from season six was spoiled for me. There were some close calls when I almost heard things I shouldn’t have, but the good news is that I am completely spoiler free. But from so many reliable sources at the show, I’ve been told we’re in for a wild ride, and I couldn’t be more excited. My prediction is the castaways run into the Harlem Globetrotters somewhere on the island and that Nestor has never aged because of Noxzema. I’m not good at predictions.