It's a bit of a bittersweet time for artist Jenny Fontana.
The 27-year-old painter is excitedly putting the finishing touches on "Winter Carnival: Something Wicked This Way Comes," which opens on Friday and will be the biggest show of her painting career thus far. Tempering this enthusiasm, however, is the fact that it will be the final show at Galeria de los Muertos' present location, which closes at the end of this month.
"I'm definitely going to miss this place, it's been a blast," Fontana says. "I've had so much fun at this gallery and I've been here since the beginning."
Before the final curtain drops on the current location of Galeria de los Muertos, Fontana and most of the venue's resident artists will celebrate offer up an exhibition filled with the same sort of funky, punk, and bizarrely beautiful works that the Fifth Street gallery has become known for since opening in October 2010.
Fontana says the exhibition will be a celebration of Galeria de los Muertos itself, as well as all manner of sort of weird, odd, and unusual subject matter. Partially inspired by Ray Bradbury's murky and quirky 1947 short story collection Dark Carnival, the showcase will feature darkly-themed carnival and sideshow-inspired art works.
Fontana says the ten pieces she's featuring for the show will illustrate her obsession with sideshow-like creatures and oddities, such as bearded ladies, conjoined twins, and two-headed animals. Each utilizes her self-described "creepy-cute" painting style that's a bit reminiscent of Elizabeth McGrath and depicts doe-eyed animals in macabre or bizare circumstances.
For example, she's also created an ode to Mary the Elephant, the five-ton pachyderm of carnival legend that killed its handler in 1916 and was later publicly hanged.
"Mary was sort of a martyr. Its sort of a memorial painting for her. It's a cautionary tale about animal welfare, something that we've gotten better at than back in the old days," she says.
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Fontana won't be the only artist who's freaky-deaky obsessions will be on display for public perusal as more than a half-dozen Galeria de los Muertos regulars have offered new carnival-inspired work for the show, including Aleta Welling, Tommy Pemberton, Lindsey Bessanson, and Tom Deadstuff.
"I'm taking up a bulk of the space on the walls, but it's not just a solo show," Fontana says. "A lot of Galleria de los Muertos people will be flying their freak flags high."
The opening reception for "Something Wicked This Way Comes: Jenny Fontana's Winter Carnival" takes place from 6-11 p.m. on Friday at Galleria de los Muertos, 905 North Fifth Street. See here for more info.