Back in 2010, Spoke Art founder Ken Harman curated a pop-up art show inspired by the work of director Wes Anderson, at a now-defunct gallery space in San Francisco. It wasn’t his job; it was just something fun he wanted to do.
Five years later, that show, “Bad Dads,” has blossomed into an annual event hosted at Spoke. Wes Anderson himself even commissioned one of its contributors, Richard Pellegrino, to create a sketch that would appear in The Grand Budapest Hotel. (The original, “Two Lesbians Masturbating,” appeared at last fall’s show.)
Another wildly popular artist involved in the “Bad Dads” exhibitions since the beginning is Max Dalton. The Buenos Aires-based illustrator’s work has been featured in many other pop-culture group exhibitions at Spoke and elsewhere, including the cover designs for Matt Zoller Seitz’s compendium The Wes Anderson Collection and supplement The Grand Budapest Hotel. But since Dalton is based in Argentina, pulling off a solo show in SF wasn’t easy.
Until now. “On A Mission From God,” Dalton’s first solo exhibition in the United States, opens at Spoke tomorrow. According to Harman, the show will include “about 50 limited-edition prints, and a handful of really cool toys.” Among those prints are some from Dalton’s “Greatest Moments In Film” series, which feature sparse character sketches beneath scraps of dialogue from E.T., The Big Lebowski, Jaws, and Pulp Fiction. There are also some of his intricately detailed scenes, like the Hill Valley town square from Back To The Future Part II or a Where’s Waldo?-inspired print with locations and characters from Breaking Bad. And then there are the completist works, like his previous prints cataloging entire casts of Star Wars or cross-section views of central locations in Wes Anderson films. For the new show, he created prints of famous couples throughout cinema history and a collection of notable Seinfeld quotes. “I guess my favorite these days is Seinfeld’s Quotes About Nothing,” says Dalton. “I watch [the show] over again at least once a year and it never gets old.”
As for the even more limited toys, they include custom View-Masters (styled as “View-Max-Sters”) with spindles of Dalton’s work on seminal science-fiction films, what the artist calls a “fully playable Groundhog Day board game,” and a Billy Murray fridge magnet set with interchangeable limbs, allowing folks to “put Groundhog Day Murray’s head on top of a Ghostbusters torso with Steve Zissou arms.” Those come from Dalton’s fascination with collectible items in his workspace. “My studio looks like a big cabinet of curiosities, with a pile of different objects,” he says. “Why not create more objects and contribute to my obsession?”