A different kind of canvas 

Blind Mute partners with WAC to stage 13 Skulls Art show, featuring an assortment of one-of-a-kind skull-inspired pieces


What: 13 Skulls Art Show & Best of B-Grade Horror Fest Screening

When: Wednesday, Oct. 20, 6 p.m.

Where: Millennium Place's Scotia Creek Gallery

Cost: Art show, free; $5 for entry to "Best of B-Grade"

The crew at Blind Mute Productions always manages to come up with creative themes for their art shows: first, there were the infamous bunnies and kittens. This time around it's skulls.

"It's not creepy!" Pepe scoffed. "Everyone's got one!"

Dave "Pepe" Petko is one of the artistic creators working behind the scenes at Blind Mute, bringing the community the occasional eclectic art show. This time, however, the underground group is taking their work to the mainstream, restaging their 13 Skulls art show, which was held earlier this spring, at Millennium Place.

"We originally had the show at Podium Auto Detailing in April, during the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival. There was a small turnout then - maybe 200 people showed up - and during the month of May we brought the show down to The Fall tattooing gallery down in the city, and that was up for the whole months," Pepe said.

It's been in storage since then.

Almost 20 artists from Vancouver up to Pemberton are participating in the show, exhibiting a range of customized animal skulls alongside prints, customized snowboards and skateboards, as well as some performance art.

"They're actually real skulls that were customized by artists," Pepe explained. "We had a lottery where the artists paid a little bit of cash and they got their name in a hat, everyone who entered the lottery got a skull, but they didn't get their pick on the skull."

The artists randomly drew skulls from a dozen or so cow, deer and elk skulls that were collected in the woods and the wilds of B.C. But skulls aren't exactly a typical canvas, or even a theme, for a show.

"I had a skull painted here for years and years," Pepe explained, referring to his home studio in Function, "and I was just trying to finish it!'"

But skulls certainly offer artists a unique canvas; they're all different shapes and sizes, and even have slightly differing textures. And while the obvious route to go with a skull canvas is, well, to go creepy, the artists took the theme and ran with it.

"We got a skull that was all bejewelled, we got one that was crocheted to make it look more realistic with little ears and that; it was a little goat's skulls, so she crocheted like the whole actual contour of the skull, and then put little ears and horns on it and stuff," he explained. "...There are some with lights in them, one guy has a horse skull that he made into a guitar, and I think for this show he might be doing a violin."

Another Whistler artist, Corinna Haight, designed her skull to resemble a bumblebee: yellow and black, and textured with feathers.

"We told artists that if they didn't want to go into the skull lottery they could submit some sort of skull-themed artwork," Pepe added. "And our original show was a western show, which was why the skull shows kind of fit in with that. So if you didn't want to paint a skull, you could do a skull/western themed piece. This one's not really themed at all, other than the skulls are the interweaving thread."

Petko also finally finished his own skull for the show.

"I kind of screwed up the paint job, so I had to repaint it at the last minute, but I think it's fine. It's a little on the evil side, but I think it will be fitting for Halloween. I've got lights in the eye sockets and the horns are actually cast resin..."

The opening reception takes place on Wednesday evening but the show will be on display from Monday, Oct. 18 to Thursday, Oct. 28. The $5 entry fee includes access to a screening of "the best of" films from past B-Grade Horror Fest at the opening reception, trick-or-treats, and live music by local bluesman Sean Rose.




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