For certain “in” crowds, John Lurie — the actor/musician with a solo show of prints and works on paper opening at Varga Gallery during the film festival this Saturday, September 24 — is the eternal “It” Boy. His performances in Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise and Down By Law bred a whole new pouty-mouthed, neo-50’s laconic look in hipster dens around the world. Lurie’s band, The Lounge Lizards, started off as jazz created by artists and gradually gained momentum with critics and a devoted audience, for a run of 20-plus albums. Fishing With John, a six-episode short-lived tongue-in-cheek sports show from the early 1990s has lived on as a cult favorite and DVD rental. A profile on Lurie in The New Yorker last summer may have been that august journal’s most talked-about story of the last few years, given the odd ways in which its subject’s surreal sense of humor spread through and beyond the piece’s boundaries…to the point where it’s bred news stories ever since.
John Lurie’s painting career started years ago — during band tours a quarter century ago, according to some, back in the years before the artists attended school, and the refrigerator was his gallery, according to Lurie himself. But he’s only taken it seriously for the past seven years.
Of course, as with his music, acting and television careers, one has to question Lurie’s seriousness, just as his sense of humor needs to be taken seriously. Then again, the guy did get nominated for a Grammy for his soundtrack for Get Shorty. And one of his early paintings, a characteristically “primitive naïve” take on a bear surprising a copulating couple, went viral online throughout the former Soviet Union.
Much has been made of Lurie’s two decade bout with chronic Lyme’s Disease. He’s said it’s the reason for his focus on two dimensional art. Many corroborate his illness and wonder whether he’ll make it up for his opening this weekend, around the time his former director will be in town for a screening of one of his wife’s legendary films, given the prevalence of ticks in the area.
His website mentions the Varga show quite prominently, alongside annual solo shows at galleries around the world, and a recent purchase by the Museum of Modern Art.
Works on exhibit in this show, according to gallery owner Christina Varga, include limited edition prints and two original works, “Woman in Japanese Kitchen with Aardvarks” and “I Want To Fuck Somebody” both works on paper. Limited edition prints all hand numbered and signed include “The Judge Was Hypnotized by Alcohol,”, “This Was the Exact Moment Marge Decided to Kill Her Husband”, “The Skeleton In My Closet Has Moved Back Out to The Garden”, “This Is Really What I Call A Massage”, “Bird Falls Near Chinese Garbage”, “There are Popsicles Everywhere” and “American Women Have the Right to Bear Arms”.
John Lurie’s always been good with names. Hey, his friends have numbered Tom Waits and Dennis Hopper, Leonard Cohen and David Bowie over the years.
The opening for the Varga Gallery show starts at 6 p.m. Saturday, September 24, at 130 Tinker Street, next door to Upstate Films.
We hope John makes it; everyone’s dying to see him. Talk about a real star…a true, bonafide original.++
For further information call 679-4005 or visit www.vargagallery.com