Multimedia Exhibit Portrays an Immigrant Artist’s American Experience

Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black co-founder Kembra Pfahler presents this story of "coming to the dystopic landscape of the Lower East Side."

The exhibition Candy Coated Evil, curated by artist and performer Kembra Pfahler (singer in The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black) and presented by Howl! Happening, features the work of Japanese artist and Pfahler’s collaborator and former husband Samoa Moriki, best known simply as Samoa. The artworks feature pop culture icons in bold, colorful paintings that portray a snapshot of the American experience.

From a press release by the art space:

The exhibition encompasses the full range of Samoa’s diverse art forms—an installation recreating his now-legendary Candy Coated Evil store, which opened in 1996 within East Village landmark The Pink Pony; costumes and props from his performances and music groups; and paintings that capture his deep experience of living in New York City. A major element of the artist’s show are live events—performances by Samoa and Kembra Pfahler, as well as a panel discussion, and an evening of video and film. The exhibition continues through February 11, 2018. All events will be streamed live on the Howl! Happening channel at howlarts.org.

From Kembra Pfahler’s statement about the exhibit:

In a poisoned, jaded world, this show is a limitless panacea. Samoa’s vocabulary is so innately understandable by anyone with a heart that still beats. And loved by those of us who understand that art and music and performance can create change, rather than just swell our pockets or decorate our rooms. It’s art that serves a purpose, and Samoa’s work does just that—one show at a time.

Howl! Details Samoa’s fascinating history as an immigrant artist who found a new home in the underground Lower East Side scene:

In the Candy Coated Evil exhibition, Samoa constructs his experiences of coming to the dystopic landscape of the Lower East Side. . . . Radical and outrageous, he has been an active participant in extreme alternative interdisciplinary art culture for decades. He was one of the first performers at the Pyramid Cocktail Lounge—where he learned English by performing with friends Tanya Ransom and Frederic, and watching early performances by legends like Ethyl Eichelberger and John Sex—a first wave of punk performance heroes that are historicized widely in the art world today. He stood out singing and playing his original music on his signature Gibson guitar at Wigstock in the early 80s; in 1984, his rock opera, Under the Bad Star, premiered at La MaMa. The opera featured his over-the-top sets and costumes; the backing band included members of the alternative post-punk band Jawbreaker. Many of his wildly eccentric costumes and other DIY artifacts from this period will be on display.

In 1990—with Pfahler—he founded the legendary theatrical shock rock band The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. Samoa was responsible for writing all the music for the band, which continues to wreak havoc wherever they perform today. As much a theatrical troupe as a band, New York’s TVHKB (named in homage to the B-movie scream queen) mixes their punk roots with elements of vaudeville, psychotronic films, and futuristic burlesque to arrive at their signature identity.

See a preview of Samoa’s exhibit in our gallery.