This past weekend, hundreds lined up to get into an art exhibit in Lower Manhattan. But this wasn't a typical gallery opening. There were no hors d'oeuvres or cocktails, and well-heeled patrons weren't shopping for artwork to hang in their multimillion-dollar lofts. No, on this Saturday night a small Tribeca gallery was the nexus of Ghostbusters fandom.
Children of the ’70s and ’80s came out in droves to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the film and peruse an incredibly eclectic collection of original fan art commissioned solely for the occasion. This is the first stop on a multi-city tour put on by Los Angeles’ Gallery1988. Over the summer, it'll make stops in LA and Chicago, before concluding in San Diego just in time for Comic-Con. And for fans looking to decorate their homes with Ghostbusters art, these shows are the only opportunity to buy prints.
"I have a lot of walls," a fan tells me with a chuckle. His name's Jason, and he's looking to decorate his New Jersey-based office. He and his fiancé are waiting in line around the corner from the gallery entrance. They've hardly moved in the 45 minutes they've been here, but Jason doesn't seem dismayed. "I have a lot of white space to fill."
Similar determination can be found up and down the line. Closer to the front door, I find friends Ed and Eugene, both accompanied by their girlfriends. Ed tells me that he grew up watching the Ghostbusters animated TV show. "I had all the toys," he says. His girlfriend says the toys are still on the shelves of his apartment. His buddy Eugene pulls out his iPhone — the wallpaper is a picture of his girlfriend posing next to a guy in a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man costume.
"['Ghostbusters'] lends towards doing almost any scene."
The event's even brought out the self-proclaimed "Original Ghosthead," Peter Mosen. The title's pinned to his beige jumpsuit as a badge of honor, and he drove down in his Chevy Impala fashioned as the Ecto-1 from the film. A life-size model of Slimer sits in the backseat, and Mosen assures me that he has an inflatable Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in the trunk "just in case." He promptly tells me the tale of his obsession with the series (he's writing an autobiography of his history with the films). It turns out he won tickets to the premiere back in 1984 and showed up at the event in a full Ghostbusters outfit before the film was even released. He made some connections at the showing, and ultimately started suiting up in costume to promote other films. He even scored a cameo in Ghostbusters II. In the meantime, he built a true replica of the Ecto-1, and he started doing Ghostbusters-themed shows. "I was all over the place doing kids' birthday parties. Everyone had to have me."
While we're chatting, Jody Sumner (part of a separate troupe of hardcore fans who are dressed up in full regalia for the exhibit), is peppering fans with Ghostbusters trivia questions. The prize? Halloween-sized Crunch Bars. The first one (Dana Barrett's apartment number) stumps the crowd (it's 2206), but soon the questions get easier. It turns out we're just a couple of blocks away from Hook & Ladder 8, where the supposed Ghostbusters are headquartered.
"I kind of love the idea that they're still busting ghosts."
But everyone's here for the art, and soon enough the doors open. Inside is an impressive array of work from nearly 80 different artists — all of it commissioned solely for this traveling exhibit. Styles run the gambit from illustration and painting to pointillism, sculpture, and graphic design. The diversity of the pieces may have been enabled by the film itself. With such an array of imagery in the movie, it "lends towards doing almost any scene," says JoKa, a hyper-pointillist whose work is featured in the exhibit. Given so many choices, he says, "I wanted to do... not Bill Murray. I knew he was covered." He opted for a composition of Gozer and a Terror Dog.
Another artist at the opening, Scott Listfield, went an entirely different direction. His piece is, he says, "a futuristic take on Ghostbusters. It's the 30th anniversary, I wanted to do something very contemporary with it." His oil painting, featuring one of his iconic astronauts, takes place 30 years further into the future. "I kind of love the idea that they're still busting ghosts." Considering the show of support here so many years after the first film, perhaps it's not such a crazy idea. After all, if Sony gets its way, we’ll have a Ghostbusters III soon enough.
Gallery1988's Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary Art Show is in New York through April 26th. It will stop in Los Angeles from May 17th to June 1st, and Chicago from June 20th to the 22nd. The show will conclude in San Diego during Comic Con.
Photography by Dante D'Orazio. Lead image credit: DKNG, "Ecto-1."