Exotic pets are pretty cool, they attract attention and are conversation starters and show that you have exotic–albeit somewhat weird–taste. Local artist Travis Louie has taken this notion and turned it on its head, pushing the idea of “weird” pets to an extreme in his artwork, which is currently the subject of Merry Karnowsky Gallery’s Curious Pets show.
Louie’s work in the show and outside of the show focus on fantastic people and their fantastic pets, usually through the lens of late 1800s portraiture. These portraits are acrylic on board, with glass accenting, recalling framing and presentation techniques of eras past.
His creatures–the “pets”–range from large bugs to monstrous creatures to the owner themselves (some are cycloptic, some have the face of a bulldog–literally). They all are in black and white and, while incredibly detailed, leave great room for the imagination, for the viewer to fill in the blank of “What color is that large creature with the little girl?” or “What color is that oversized frog?” Similarly, as they are portraits, you can create your own story for how they met, how the creature and owner found each other, who is creating this portrait, and any other fantasy tale you’d like to attach to them (for some, Louie has also created these stories for you, which you can read on his website).
Louie’s work is on view at Merry Karnowsky through Saturday. Stop by the La Brea gallery if you can to see his works (which shares viewing space with Christopher Conn Askew’s 96 Tears).