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Preview: Big Trouble In East Village

Thumbprint Gallery hosts fan art tribute to John Carpenter cult favorite

The timing of Thumbprint Gallery’s Big Trouble in East Village couldn’t be better. The one night (June 9 at Basic Urban Kitchen) only fan art show pays tribute to John Carpenter’s 1986 cult favorite "Big Trouble In Little China." It arrives on the heels of news that Dwayne Johnson will star in a remake.

When John Carpenter’s "Big Trouble in Little China" was released in 1986, it bombed at the box office. This outrageous and loving homage to martial arts movies was ahead of its time and has since become a cult favorite with a permanent spot on the midnight movie circuit. That makes it the perfect pop culture jumping off point for Thumbprint Gallery’s fan art show, Big Trouble in East Village.

"They don’t make movies like that any more, it's funny but not a screwball comedy; it's an action movie but it doesn't take itself too seriously; each character has a backstory but they don't spend a lot of time trying to explain it to you," artist Jon Groobz said as he set up screens to print his poster art for the show. "And it’s just so much fun. It’s one of my favorite movies."

This is Groobz's second fan art show with Thumbprint Gallery. He said the film is a great choice for a theme because "it’s something you and your friends could bond over but now it's with strangers. It’s like part of all of our collective childhoods, it’s something that if you meet someone around the same age as you and there’s a really good chance that they enjoyed some of the same things you did like 'Big Trouble in Little China.'"

Groobz worked silkscreening T-shirts when he lived back east but doing a two-color screen print for a poster involves slightly different skills and Groobz was attempting to screen the second color when I came over to his house for an interview.

"When I heard about the show I created a couple different designs [see photo gallery] and would work on one until I got bored with it and then I would (move) on to another one and the Lo Pan one is just the one that came together the fastest," Groobz told me. "David Lo Pan [played by James Wong in the film] is the main villain of the film; he’s almost a Dracula-like character and he’s an ancient and powerful sorcerer."

His poster plays off of one memorable scene in the film: "There’s a scene where he’s standing in front of the main character’s semi-truck as it’s barreling down an alley and he just doesn’t even flinch. He just looks and smiles and beckons it with his finger and it’s so, it sums up who he is, he’s not afraid of anything, he knows he’s invincible, even in the face of a Mac truck."

Jon Groobz's screen print of Lo Pan will be among the dozens of art pieces on display as part of Thumbprint Gallery’s Big Trouble in East Village fan art show.

Erika Deoudes shares Groobz's affection for the film: "I've loved the movie since I was kid. The piece [of Lo Pan with a thumbs up and a big grin, see photo gallery] was actually a special request to cheer up an ailing friend of a friend. A thumbs-up from a cursed evil sorcerer is an encouraging and powerful thing."

This will be Stephanie Takemoto fourth Tuesday Night Bar Basic Group Art Show. She was new to the film.

"I had actually never seen 'Big Trouble in Little China' before being asked to partake in the art show," Takemoto said. "It was a lot of fun to watch. I can see why it is a cult classic. I love painting female characters so portraying something that embodied Kim Cattrall’s character seemed appropriate. For this piece, I wanted to convey a playful yet strong woman with attitude."

Artist Pauline Cuevas said she did "the '80s show in December 2014, and Disturbed Disney in April 2015. They were all held at Basic."

Big Trouble in East Village Fan Art is one night only, Tuesday, June 9, at Basic Urban Kitchen from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Jon Groobz designed the poster art for the film series The Universal Suspects at The Digital Gym Cinema that I co-host.

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