Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Munny Show, April 4

The Munny Show
Various (like, eighteen) artists
Featuring DJ Merk Muny
April 4, 2007, 7 p.m.
Syndicate Apparel – 10444 Whyte ave

Seen on the shelf, designer toy manufacturer Kidrobot’s Munny figurine – a featureless seven-inch vinyl manikin of vaguely adorable contours – looks blank, unfinished. And that’s exactly what it is; Munny is to toy design what canvas is to painting, its media-friendly matte finish and soft plastic body intended to be airbrushed, painted, drawn on, glued, carved, chopped up and remixed by DIY toymakers. In the three years since Munny’s release, Munny-modification has become one of the fastest-growing parties in the urban pop-art underground, and now Edmonton artists are gathering for this city’s first ever Munny show.

“The idea of Munny is new here,” says Lynda Vang, who got the ball rolling on the event with a few mid-February conversations and emails, “but from people who knew about it response was quick, and pretty soon replies were filling my mailbox. I’d never done anything like this before, but I’d heard and read that the art community in Edmonton is really supportive and tight-knit… and it’s really true!”

Munny shows can get pretty wild, that cartoonoid little statuette providing the basis for all kinds of killer space robots, monsters, adora-pop moppets, disturbing abstracts, satirical caricatures and… and anything else anybody could ever imagine. From coast to coast, Munny shows are wild places where individual weirdnesses are amplified by the echoes of each piece’s common commodity ancestor. Google it up or drop the “munnny” tag into flickr.com for something of preview.

Less than six weeks after conceiving Edmonton’s own Munny show, which hits April 4 at Syndicate on Whyte Avenue, Vang had a roster of 18 artists signed on to craft a Munny for the event. The designer/custom toy scene is closely associated with the street-art world, and many of the show’s participants come from that background, but Vang has put effort into getting artists from many different styles into the mix.

“It would have been easy to fall back on the urban graffiti scene,” she says. “I’ll have people from that aesthetic representing, but I wanted to be more diverse, and not just have strictly graffiti artists.”

One participant from the graffiti side of things is the mysterious bomber known as Steve-Dave, infamous for his celebrity-stencil work. Like most of the artists in the show, this will be Steve-Dave’s first toy project.

“It'll be an extension of the aesthetic I'm currently working with,” Steve-Dave explains, “just applied to a different medium. You'll have to come check it out to see. It may not be as much stencil work as I'd like, as it's tough to stencil an eight-inch tall, three-dimensional object. Either way, it'll most likely offend someone.”

For illustrator Cordelia Chan, whose Munny will involve “paisley and whales”, the high-speed grassroots – weedroots? – nature of the Munny show, nurtured in the fertile soil of MySpace, is one of its most exciting aspects.

“Edmonton holds such marvelous talent,” says Chan, but it all gets pushed underground because of conservative cliques. When smaller shows can get bigger exposure via different modes of communication, that's great.

“For example, look at the Art Gallery of Alberta. The "Free for All" exhibition that they have had for the past month shows precisely the excitement over and magnitude of all different types of art existing in this city… and that, even, was only a small portion. Normally, though, they don't exhibit the exciting local art like they've done this past month. Art is for everyone, and it's refreshing and encouraging to see people excited about a show such as this Munny one.”

“There's obviously a growing interest in this sort of thing,” says Steve-Dave, “so I think it'll go over well. There's a ton of creative people in Edmonton, and shows like this just fuel the fire of underground/DIY art. I'm stoked.”

image: Scott Scheidly's TikiMunny, via UberBot

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