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Dark dreams 'In the Nursery': Corey Helford Gallery presents art with an edge for the kiddie's room

January 26, 2011 |  7:00 am

In the nursery atomique_wf-1
As co-owner and curator of the Corey Helford Gallery, Jan Corey Helford posed a question to 25 painters, photographers and graffiti writers: How would you re-imagine art for a child's room? In a show titled "In the Nursery" running Saturday to Feb. 9, the results are magical, odd and, in some cases, disturbing enough to keep kids up past bedtime -- and keep child psychologists in business. 

ITN-CAESARAmong the images: Michael Mararian's "Le Bombe Atomique," above, which depicts kittens frolicking on a beach as an A-bomb destroys a nearby island. (It's $1,800 including the handmade frame.)

Then there is the bewitching "Beloved," right, a steampunk-influenced portrait of a young girl pushing a buggy with a tentacled baby something or other. The 30-inch-square digital media on a varnished panel ($17,500) is by Ray Caesar, who will have a solo show at Corey Helford in October. 

"Childhood has changed and so has parents' taste in art," says gallery co-owner Bruce Helford, who comes from the generation of kids who had big-eyed Margaret Keane paintings and illustrations from Ludwig Bemelman's Madeline books.

"We get young, hip people who bring their babies to the gallery in rock 'n' roll T-shirts," Bruce Helford says. "So what do they put in those kids' rooms?"

The show's range of options -- from cute to creepy -- includes works by Los Angeles designer Paul Frank, sculptor Liz McGrath and multimedia artist Mike Stilkey, who paints owls on the spines and covers of vintage books. Perhaps the most haunting image is "Very First Time," an eerie rendering of Little Red Riding Hood, by Los Angeles photographer Chris Anthony.

"The best pieces work on two levels," Bruce Helford says. "Something for the disturbed child in yourself or something disturbing for the nursery."

He admits that kids would have to be "pretty well adjusted" to handle some of the work in the show. "A lot of fairy tales were scary and meant to teach kids lessons. It's important for kids to know that the world isn't all just Care Bears." 

An opening reception will be held 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday at 8522 Washington Blvd., Culver City; (310) 287-2340.

Keep reading to see more work ...

  In the Nursery mike_stilkey_TheOwlisWary copy

Mike Stilkey's "The Owl Is Wary, The Owl is Wise" is an ink-and-acrylic painting on old books.

 

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"The Healing Study," left, and "Sanctuary," right, are by Ray Caesar.

 

Picture 7

"Very First Time" is a dramatic representation of Little Red Riding Hood by Chris Anthony.

-- David A. Keeps

Photo credit: Corey Helford Gallery

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