I was at a pet store some time ago buying food for my various creatures ( a pet rat, a tarantula, my pug dog, and my fish) when I came across a book about the “proper care of tarantulas”. It was pretty straightforward stuff about enclosures, temperature regulation, the types of tarantulas, etc, . . . and then I saw the author photo in the back of the book (and it was a dandy!) It wasn’t so much that the author looked like some stereotypical nerd, or that he was dressed like he was attending his senior prom and it was 1976 that caught my attention(powder blue tuxedo and greasy hair in full effect) .
It was the first prize ribbon attached to his tarantula’s tank that made me think, “they had pet shows for arachnids?” “How weird is that?” I’ve seen dog shows on television, like the Westminster Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden in New York every year, . . . but the image of some handler parading a tarantula on a leash and the subsequent examination of said tarantula on some platform by an elegantly dressed “expert” on the various breeds and tarantula groups made me laugh. I immediately started working on this series of paintings featuring characters with unusual pets and their unusual circumstances. This show at Merry Karnowsky Gallery showcases some of these characters and I hope to publish a book when I complete a few more paintings in this ongoing series sometime next year.
BiographyTravis Louie was born in Queens, New York, about a mile from the site of the 1964 World’s Fair. His early childhood was spent making drawings and watching “Atomic Age” Sci-Fi and Horror movies. There were many Saturday afternoon trips to the local comics shop and noon matinees at the RKO Keith’s cinema on Northern Blvd. , where he marveled at the 1950’s memorabilia: the rocket ships, the superheroes, the giant monsters, and old pulp art covers. He did thousands of sketches of genre characters like Godzilla, King Kong, and a host of creatures from Ray Harryhausen movies.
The visual style of his work is mostly influenced by the lighting and atmosphere of German Expressionist and Film Noir motion pictures from the Silent Era to the late 1950’s. Films from directors like F W Murnau, Fritz Lang, Orson Welles, Robert Siodmak, Robert Aldrich, Jacque Tourneur, and cinematographer, Greg Toland, had a great effect on the way he wanted his paintings to look.