As a little girl, I thought Sanrio was toy heaven.
Every mall trip, I begged to go inside. And when I did, I made sure I saw every inch of the store. I had to pick up all the trinkets, click every cutesy mechanical pencil and Sanrio-character-topped pen until one of my parents dragged me out. Every time I left with a surprise bag filled with inexpensive items that proved priceless to me.
As I got older I guess that feeling disappeared, whether from old age or the idea that a college student might get weird looks if she stayed in Sanrio for hours. I contented myself with carrying a Hello Kitty debit card.
Sunday evening, Known Gallery threw me back into that childhood phase. The gallery’s single-day pop-up event featured a solo show by POSE, works by artists from Dabs Myla to RISK and signing of the new book Hello Kitty Hello Art! The line to get into the gallery’s doors wound around the block and inside many bodies squeezed in to see the art, get their books signed and buy prints, books and shirts. Gathered along a few tables were artists POSE, RISK, Kenton Parker, Gary Baseman, Dan Goodsell, Shark Toof, Andrew Brandou, and Deph signing books from visitors and doodling. Hello Kitty Hello Art! showcases an impressive range of artists all giving their own twist to the character which was obvious from the artists giving each book page their own drawing and/or signature. The book also includes essays from some of these artists. In one, RISK takes about the fascination his daughters and wife had with the car and how he eventually created a piece that merged Hello Kitty with an image of American culture. Seeing the artists in attendance cemented the idea that Hello Kitty reached past a certain aesthetic attitude and could mutate into any fun, creepy, whimsical form under the hands of a number of artists.
Known Gallery committed to Hello Kitty-fying their interior, setting up certain walls with the kitten doing things like holding a paint brush or spray paint can.That image of my childhood’s favorite, Hello Kitty holding a spray paint can, brought it all full circle. Any time I see an alley or wall with street art, I have to pull over and look at and photograph every part of the artworks. Artists like Shepard Fairey, AIKO, and more — all artists I admired — made clear that the Hello Kitty fever didn’t even spare them.
Along with POSE’s colorful, collage-like works, the works of a diverse group of artists brought the influence of Hello Kitty to front and center. All under chandeliers designed by Adam Wallacavage that looked like octopi with little Hello Kitty heads. Quite the way to celebrate one powerful cartoon kitten.
441 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036