Day of Dead

Top three monsters of all time in Mark A. Molina’s book?

“The top would always be Dracula — the black-and-white, Bela Lugosi Dracula. He’s very suave. In the original movie, he’s always wearing a tuxedo and a cape. The Frankenstein monster would be second; he’s a misunderstood monster. And third would be the Creature from the Black Lagoon.”

Vestiges of those timeless characters are conjured in Molina’s current pop-art creations, some of which appear in “Things That Go Bump In The Night,” a new exhibition at Vision Gallery in Chandler.

The show calls to mind the mayhem and spookiness of runaway childhood imaginations through the work of more than 30 regional artists.

“We asked (the artists) to go back and think about what frightened them when they were little kids, and create something inspired by that,” says curator Eric Faulhaber of the lighthearted exhibition.

“We had an old black-and-white TV, and on Sunday afternoons, I would watch classic horror movies,” says Molina, 40, of his own fondness for scary creatures. “That left an impression on me. I love to paint vintage horror stars. I always go back to old movie monsters of the ’30s and ’40s.”

The Tucson artist, who signs his work with the initials MAM, has movie-inspired paintings in the Chandler show (“Psycho’s” Janet Leigh appears) as well as colorful, personified candlestick sculptures.

“And there’s a series of Halloween masks made of papier-mâché, inspired by old-fashioned masks of 30 or 40 years ago,” Molina says.

Given his subject matter, Molina sells most of his work around Halloween and the Day of the Dead, two holidays he calls upon when dressing up each Oct. 31 — usually in a thrift-store jacket he tricked out with LED lights and “calavera,” or skull, face paint.

But his costume, like his artwork, won’t be too frightening.

“In most of my work, the monsters are smiling. My artwork is designed to put a smile on your face. It’s all in good fun.”


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