At the end of last year, Shag had a solo exhibition at the Corey Helford Gallery in Culver City entitled “Autumn’s Come Undone.” It had a pretty short run—only from November 21-December 9.
His art often portrays the slightly sordid underbelly of mid-century suburbia, but these works really took on a dark and morbid turn. (Perhaps it was inspired by all the swag he designed for Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion?) Sidenote: I can’t look at this and not think of the Goo Goo Dolls song “Black Balloon,” which also happens to be its name.
The first thing that I’m sure struck most Shag fans was the new color palette. Gone are the super saturated colors and in their place are more sobering shades to match the content. Each giclée was six feet wide, and some of them were assembled together as diptychs and triptychs.
His cast of characters remains mostly the same, but instead of cavorting in retro lounges and the like, they’re assembled in surreal, nightmarish scenes and Apocalyptic landscapes. Also somewhat unusual for Shag, there was basically no tiki imagery. I think the closest thing there was was this pseudo-tiki in “Smudge Pot.”
I think “Lone Star” had the most whimsical and humorous elements out of all the pieces—I especially liked the mechanical bulls and whiskey water.
“Seventh Sea” was another one of my favorites from the exhibition. (Teles and Ligeia were names of two of the sirens from Greek mythology.) Most of the panels also seemed to make references to his previous works, like “The Raft of the Medusa” in this case.
I’m sure the official catalog for the show sheds more light on the intentions and themes behind the exhibition, though I don’t really see myself adding it to my Shag collection as I must admit I prefer his more “commercial” art. You can see the exhibition in its entirety on the Corey Helford Gallery site.