Gallery 1988 is pure cultural pop. Opened in 2004, this Melrose Avenue art outpost isn’t just one gallery, it’s two. Both are considered top destinations for cutting-edge pop-culture themed artwork. And of course, what better place to look at pop culture than at one of its epicenters – Melrose Ave.
California natives Katie Cromwell and Jensen Karp began the gallery soon after college, with an eye toward showcasing and nurturing emerging artists. Their openings are often celebrity studded, but the star power is not what brings most visitors to the galleries.
According to Gallery 1988 East manager Lily Idle, “One of the wonderful things about the gallery is the idea that you can find a piece of art that you really relate to, referencing something you already love, and be able to buy it. The coolest part is that people can just walk in and say ‘oh, I love that,’ and they’re able to afford the print. People don’t think of art as being that accessible sometimes.”
Idle notes that the entire gallery is very welcoming to art lovers and pop culture fans alike. “Our gallery exhibitions reference movies, television, and music, all the elements of popular culture. While the art doesn’t have one unifying style, it all has that theme. We do more group shows generally at Gallery 1988 West because the space is larger, and solo shows at this location. We also do our group postcard show here which works well in this space because the pieces are smaller.”
The gallery held its second annual postcard show in 2016, and plans are in the works for this year’s edition. Last year, Star Wars fans could see and purchase Blair Sayer’s “Greetings from Tosche Station, Anchorhead, Tatooine,” which was available as an original work and also as a print for only $6.00. Others sought out a sunny “Visit Dragon Bay!” by artist Daisy Church featuring a swooping dragon behind a comely woman in a bathing suit, available as a print for $10.
Other annual shows hosted by the gallery include “Crazy 4 Cult,” hosted by filmmakers Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier, and a tribute exhibition, “Under the Influence,” which serves as an homage to both Stan Lee and the Beastie Boys.
The two galleries’ locations on Melrose draw walk-ins as well as art lovers and fans of exhibition subjects. “We’ve been here for such a long time, people know right where we are, and enjoy coming in.”
The galleries frequently appear in national magazines and newspapers, and have worked in partnership with The Walt Disney Company and ABC.
While it’s difficult for Idle to select just one unique exhibit, she cites the recent “Rick and Morty Show” exhibited at 1988 Gallery West, featuring fan-driven art pieces based on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim animated series. The show featured both original works and prints.
“There was an overwhelmingly positive response,” Idle says. “We sold out the entire show in the first week, including print runs. We’re doing variants of the original print pieces and prints of works that we didn’t have print runs for.”
Upcoming shows such as Joshua Budich’s “Fictional Food 2: Back for Seconds” at Gallery East, featuring twenty prints and eight original pieces, should also prove a large draw, Idle believes.
The feisty, fun, and easy-to-connect with art at these venues reference both the hip and the nostalgic, often focusing on fan favorites and humor, always with style.
For more information on show openings and gallery offerings, stroll on in, or visit www.nineteeneightyeight.com
Gallery 1988 West
7308 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Gallery 1988 East
7021 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038