A cheerful and entertained crowd gathered under the high tin ceilings and a cloud of Wolfbats in the warm and gentle space that is Space 1026 in Philadelphia on Friday for Dennis McNetts’ opening.
Maybe it was the tall thin windows, the skylight, or the shabby chic furniture, but McNett’s work seemed to work very well in this unassuming and welcoming atmosphere – a bit of a departure from the austerity of the white-box gallery. If street art is making a transition off the street this kind of atmosphere can feel just like home.
While you are looking at these pictures, enjoy Von Cello doing his rendition of “Iron Man”, by Dennis’s all-time favorite metal band, Black Sabbath. Dude makes some serious and seriously entertaining faces when he plays his cello. ROCK ON!
Undoubtedly it’s the proximity to Halloween that brings it on and makes it work so well, but some McNett fans can’t help but get dressed up for a show. Trick or Treat!
Gallery Tour Stops in Philadelphia Friday at Space 1026
Smile and the World Smiles With You (McMutt) (photo Jaime Rojo)
According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of 2009 is the Year of the Ox, which said that I would be winning the lotto around mid-year. Maybe I should have read the “Year of the Wolfbat” instead. Dennis McNett seems to be having a rocking good time.
The wild animals that Dennis “McMutt” McNett brings to the streets are ferocious and savage and sometimes byzantine in carved detail. When you turn the corner and see one of them plastered or, in the case of recent sculpture, pacing behind a chain-link fence, you are excited by it’s raw rage; a black and white wheatpaste lino print of a snarling snow leopard with jagged pointy incisers ready to rip chunks of flesh. Rarrrrhhh! McMutt is on a tear!
Here kitty kitty! (photo Helen Michelson)
The “Year of the Wolfbat” tour began in New York in June and has flapped it’s webbed wings across the US, swooping in for exhibitions, artist talks and workshops along the way. The migratory flight of the Wolfbats has included shows at Fecal Face Dot Gallery in San Francisco and Thinkspace Gallery in Los Angeles.
The swarming mass of wolfbats will next fly to the city of Wolfbrotherly love, Philadelphia Space 1026 in Philadelphia (Thursday Oct. 2) with an installation of print-derived sculpture and mural, accompanied by unique and editioned works both large and small.
Dennis McNett’s installation Willoughby Windows Project in downtown Brooklyn this summer (photo Helen Michelson)
A longtime head-bashing punk and metal music fan, Dennis is also a professor at Pratt here in Brooklyn, sharing his thousands of hours of experience and mastery of craftsmanship with aspiring artists of the new generation. An artist and street artist, you’ll find his wild animal kingdom wheatpastes in Brooklyn on the facade of KCDC skate shop in Williamsburg, and in the ongoing Willoughby Windows exhibit downtown.
Vans by Dennis McNett
You can also find his designs on sneakers, t-shirts, and skateboards.
Brooklyn Street Art:How many hours does it take to carve one of those giant 4’x8′ linotype blocks? Dennis McNett: If I have no distractions and lots of coffee it usually goes very quickly once I have my drawing on the block.
Dennis’s show at Thinkspace Gallery in Los Angeles this August. Says owner Andrew Hosner, “Dennis rocked our spot. One of the best installs we’ve had to date.” (photo Helen Michelson)
Brooklyn Street Art:Is it possible to develop Carvel-Tunnel Syndrome? Dennis McNett: You mean Carvel like the ice cream?….. I’m sure if you scoop too much you could.
Come quick Hilda! There is something in my eye! (Dennis McNett at Thinkspace) (photo Helen Michelson)
Brooklyn Street Art: There was recently a sighting of a prowling mountain cat in Bushwick. Have you seen this ferocious feline behind a fence? Dennis McNett: I have seen it but I think it was a snow leopard and just like the illusive and mystical cat it is now nowhere to be found.
So I’m a snow leopard, eh? Watch me chew a hole through this fence. (photo Helen Michelson)
Brooklyn Street Art: Who are the five best heavy metal artists of all time? Dennis McNett: Black Sabbath is timeless to me. Gwar is underrated for the amount of creative energy put into their theatrics, longevity, and mastery of the mediums of story telling, costume making, set design, character development, album cover art, comics, metal music, etc… whether you like their aesthetic or not. Slayer!!! Motorhead!!! Death!!! This list may change from day to day…. there are too many.
Gwar getting ready to go to the supermarket (photo Kerosene Photography)
photo credit: Kerosene Photography Brooklyn Street Art:Now that we are in the fourth quarter, how has the “Year of the Wolfbat” been? Dennis McNett: It was awesome to travel around and show work. I met a ton of really amazing people and was able to invoke their wolfbat. The folks at Fecal Face and Thinkspace were really generous and hospitable with their time and space. The Badlands were intense. Good times.
Some not-so-casual fans of Dennis McNett (photo Helen Michelson)
Brooklyn Street Art:You have referred to the Wolfbat as a spirit. Would you say that you are a spiritual man? Dennis McNett: Wolfbats are spirits… they are kin to the great wolf Fenris who was wrongfully bond by the gods …. I started a sort of mythology of my own by resurrecting Fenris. He was killed during Ragnarok (the battle of the Gods and Giants) by Oden’s son Vitar. I rewrote the ending where his sister Hel resurrects Fenris and raises a new army. Wolfbats wake the sleeping spirit of people who need to be woken. That is their reason for coming into our dimension and world.
” “Odin and Fenris” by Dorothy Hardy, published in 1909 in Myths of the Norsemen from the Eddas and Sagas.
Brooklyn Street Art: Your creatures are violent and rageful. Should people be afraid of you? Dennis McNett: Absolutely not. I don’t see my work as violent or rageful. I just see these characters as very alive and expressive in their gesture. I usually choose animals with some mythology behind them or that are mystical, misunderstood, or pack/family oriented.
A Wolfbat on Sunset Boulevard (photo Helen Michelson)
From the 1026 Space gallery:
“You can expect to see a loud psychedelic woodcut landscape covering several walls of the gallery in which nature’s bass has been cranked up to 11. Duck your head walking in and make way for an entire flock of hotheaded Wolfbats swooping overhead, not to mention the supercharged eagles diving out of their path to let them through.”
Dennis in studio working on a new piece to be shown Friday.
…as well as new wood carved pieces, relief cut prints, masks, oversize tapestries, leopards with serpent tails, goat heads wrapped in snakes, angry beasts, eagles fighting snakes, bats, and of course, Wolfbats.
Wolfbat and Goat: detail of new work by Dennis McNett to be shown at Space 1026
“Year of the Wolfbat”
An installation by Dennis McNett
Show dates: October 2nd –October 31st
Opening Reception: Friday October 2nd 7-10pm
Where: Space 1026, 1026 Arch St. Philadelphia, PA