I have a knack lately with all the blogs, projects, brainfarts (oh yeah, and day job) I'm foolishly juggling of forgetting that coming up with an idea is like 10% of the actual work. I am gonna try to be better about this and post more goodies for you guys... How many times have I said that? BUT THIS TIME I MEAN IT :B
So anyway, Nate put me on blast for being lazy while we were inventing a kimchi bloody mary cocktail we're calling the "Gwangju Mary:
(so damn tasty! click above for the recipe)
Ready to prove him wrong, here is the next in a series of posts I've labeled Japan 2010!
BIG AX FESTIVAL AT BILLIKEN GALLERY
I had a short list of things set in stone for my Tokyo trip earlier this year that I specifically wanted to check out & photograph for Same Hat. One of the most auspicious was the BIG AX FESTIVAL, a month-long art show organized by manga publisher Seirinkogeisha. The exhibit was held in Billiken Gallery, and featured a huge set of featured artists; in fact, the month-long show was split down the middle with two separate openings and sets of artists. I was lucky enough to visit the final weekend of the exhibit with Nate, and see the 2nd half of BIG AX FESTIVAl (which featured original works by Same Hat patron saints Suehiro Maruo, Yusaku Hanakuma, Shintaro Kago, and many other amazing artists).
Billiken Gallery (Billiken Shokai) is a super cute shop in the highly fashionable and consumerist Aoyama neighborhood of Tokyo. For those that haven't had the pleasure, Aoyama is the 'hood further down the way from Harajuku, home to the crazy Comme des Garçons and Vuitton flagships, swank little eateries, and some of the hottest/fanciest ladies in Tokyo.
(photo by saripom)
The gallery space at Billiken Shokai is in the back, while the front half of the shop features American indie comics (David Bowing by Clowes, David B's Epileptic, etc) along with vintage vinyl figurines, tin toys, and other collectibles. The staff there was cute and polite, a juxtaposition to the wacky-ass art hanging for the AX show. I took a few photos (below) before they informed me that was actually frowned upon... and ended our time there by buying some autographed manga and pins for friends.
Check out the Billiken Gallery's exhibit blog for lots of pics of their ongoing exhibits; I have found tons and tons of contemporary artists to follow/stalk/read about from their blog! It makes me wish that the SuperFrog Gallery in San Francisco was 1/10th as, well, relevant for lack of a better word. Not to harp on this, but it's spaces like Billiken that underscore how much of a missed opportunity for Japan/Manga/Cartoon gallery space the New People building is in its current form.
ON WITH THE PICTURES! HERE ARE MINE:
By Yuka Goto, awesome artists of the Justice Corps series. She captures this art brut x nasty high school girl's diary aesthetic really well (and has a story called The Neighbor in the AX Anthology)
Paintings & prints mounted on the wall, manga by AX artists stacked for folks to peruse on all the tables!
BIG AX FESTIVAL t-shirt (not for sale)
Oh yeah, and every issue of AX to date (along with paintings by Maruo, drawing by Hanakuma)
Glass case full of AX/Seirinkogeisha artists pins, including sets by Suehiro Maruo.
Tsuge, Hanakuma, Hayami, and others! These pins were for sale (and are also available at Taco Che
MORE PICS FROM THE BILLIKEN BLOG
A painting by one of the Same Hat pantheon: Shintaro Kago!
Shimatora Torada, author of the lovely manga, Träumerei
Minimalist pen drawing by Yusaku Hanakuma
Pieces by Yoshikazu Ebisu
This dude is jolly: Yoshikazu Ebisu
Suehiro Maruo signing books
Damn dude! Yoshikazu Ebisu, Minami Shinbou, and Suehiro Maruo
Yuka Goto and Toshiko Suzuki(?)
Check out this sea of talent! That is Mr. Buff Hotness (Hanakuma!) in the purple turtleneck.
Original painting by Suehiro Maruo. It was sold when I visited, for something like $1200? (Wait, it had to be way more than that... I forget)
The dude Nishioka of Nishioka Kyoudai
Piece by Kurihara Takashi
Piece by Imiri Sakabashira
Piece by Toyo Kataoka
Piece by Fukuzawa Minako
Piece by Akino Kondoh
Every issue of AX!
Piece by Kazuichi Hanawa
I hope folks enjoyed this collection of photographs and details on the gallery. There are more pics on the Billiken Gallery blog, but it doesn't have permalinks to previous posts unfortunately. Just go back through the archives to February to see 'em!
I would definitely include Billiken Shokai on my list of Tokyo stops, especially if you're already over in West Tokyo at Harajuku or kicking it on the Chuo Line. I just added it to the Same Hat Guide To Everything for anyone planning an upcoming trip!
UPDATE ABOUT THE AX ANTHOLOGY FROM LEIGH AT TOP SHELF:
Leigh here from Top Shelf. The AX book is indeed real, not to worry! It's available via direct order from our web site or at conventions. Unfortunately we had some logistical delays with the book moving through distribution channels, but Diamond has it now and will be distributing to comic shops, bookstores, Amazon, etc within a week or two. Sorry for the confusion and hope you enjoy the book!
The direct order page for AX is here, by the way (
http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog/ax-vol-1-a-collection-of-alternative-manga/645) and as Jose-Luis mentioned, we are in the middle of a big mail-order sale right now. Thanks everybody for all your interest and support!