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May 12, 2022

SPECIAL: Spooky Kids Club opens at SugarMynt Gallery

SPECIAL: Spooky Kids Club opens at SugarMynt Gallery

Coming up, we’re visiting the Spooky Kids Club exhibit at SugarMynt Gallery. Open now through June 19th, this exhibit focuses on the Halloween-loving child in all of us. We’ll hear from the co-creators, 2 of the artists, some guests, and even get a...

We’re visiting the Spooky Kids Club exhibit at SugarMynt Gallery. Open now through June 19th, this exhibit focuses on the Halloween-loving child in all of us. We’ll hear from the co-creators, 2 of the artists, some guests, and even get a guided tour and hear about some of the easter eggs. Featured in this episode: Jeff Depaoli, SaraRose Orlandini, Jimi Martinez, Victor Acuña from Unwrapped Art, The Creepy Cool Kid, and Ted Dougherty. 

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Philip: Coming up, we're visiting the Spooky Kids Club exhibit at SugarMynt Gallery in Pasadena. Open now through June 19th, this exhibit focuses on the Halloween loving child in all of us. We'll hear from the co-creators, two of the artists, some guests, and even get a guided tour to hear about some of the Easter eggs. Let's begin by hearing from the two co-curators Jeff and Sarah Rose.

Jeff: I am Jeff DePaoli, and I am the co-curator of Spooky Kids Club at SugarMynt Gallery.

Spooky Kids Club is all about the spooky nostalgia of your childhood, that stuff that like made you a Halloween fan and a horror fan. We all fell in love with it at a young age, so it's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. For me, it was, Are You Afraid of the Dark? Very much so. A lot of people, Goosebumps, The Munsters, all of that fun stuff is being celebrated here as part of Spooky Kids Club.

It is May 7th through June 18th. So, it's a good long run during normal business hours. We have tons of special events though throughout this, and that's what I'm super excited about. We're bringing in special guests like DJ Mikael, the co-creator of Are You Afraid of the Dark? He's going to come talk about the creation of that show, which was originally called Scary Tales. He's going to talk about that whole process, and then we're going to watch about four episodes under the stars in the backyard.

We're getting the producer of Corpse Bride to come talk about that film, and we're going to watch that. Saturday morning cartoons, everybody loves those, right? So, we're going to do like a Saturday night cartoon sort of thing where we're watching some of those shows like Beetlejuice and such, and a lot of special events. Everything's on the website.

Philip: Tell me why you got involved and tell me why we're doing this in the middle of summer.

Jeff: Well, we're doing this in the middle of summer because we are right next door to the Michael Myers house from the original 1978, John Carpenter's Halloween.

So, here at SugarMynt Gallery, the slogan is, "where every day is Halloween." So, we're always doing something spooky, macabre dark, whatever, and this show came about because I pitched it to Sarah Rose, the gallery owner. I said, "I want to do an Are You Afraid of the Dark show." And she's like, "well, I've had this idea for a long time of doing a Spooky Kids Club, and we could incorporate that into it." And I was like, "done. Sold. Like, I love all that stuff." And that's how Spooky Kids Club was born.

SaraRose: My name is SaraRose Orlandini I'm the owner of SugarMynt Gallery in South Pasadena, California, next door to the Michael Myers house. This is a bucket list exhibit for me. I named it Spooky Kids Club just because I always said that when I would meet somebody who's also spooky and like watches kid, "kid." I will put quotes on "kid" because when you watch like Coraline or something, it's pretty scary for a child. I never grew out of that. I keep quoting it because that's just who I am, and I just wanted an one exhibit with everything that I loved. And when I meet people, like I said, when I meet people, I'll be like, "oh yeah. So, you're a part of the Spooky Kids Club? Ah!" Like, you know?

Philip: Tell me about the gallery a little bit, why did you found the gallery?

SaraRose: June 1st, 2015, was our opening. So, we're about to hit seven years. When we opened, it was just going to be a regular art gallery. It started transforming into something, only because I just talk about Halloween all the time. I love the season. I love the movie. I grew up in Pasadena. I've driven by the Michael Myers house my whole life. After three years of doing one Halloween show, and then contemporary art where all I was really looking forward to was the Halloween show, I literally was like, "I'm either closing or I'm going into Halloween all the time," because it's just, again, what I like to do. It's all I want to talk about. It's all I want. I would just want to decorate for Halloween all the time. In 2018 I decided, I'm like, "all right, after the Halloween show, I'm doing a Tim Burton show," and then from there we started growing and I get to do a ton of fun exhibits and work with really cool people like Jeff DePaoli, and like it's so much fun.

Philip: Talk to me about the interactives at this exhibit.

SaraRose: Coming to SugarMynt Gallery is an experience. You get to come in and have fun. You get to see beautiful artwork. You get to take beautiful photos in front of fun, interactive photo ops, and just live in art.

Philip: I mentioned that we'll be speaking with two artists in this episode about the pieces they made for the Spooky Kids Club. The first artist is Jimi Martinez, and he's an illustrator. He has two pieces in the show, and both are characters from, Are You Afraid of the Dark, Zeebo and Nosferatu. They are both also acrylic on wood. Here's Jimi.

Jimi: Well, I mean, I was a child in the nineties, and Are You Afraid of the Dark was a show that, when I was going up, I had to get home to watch it. No matter what, I couldn't miss it. I didn't care about anything else, but I had to watch Are You Afraid of the Dark.

Those two episodes, they didn't feel like kid stuff. I think that clown is scarier than Pennywise. It's very hard to make a good, scary clown. It's all about the simplicity of the teeth, glowing eyes, and the big cheekbones. So, there's something very primal and very, very deranged about it, which I really appreciate as a kid. I've seen a lot of like bad, scary clowns. I don't really do it. Here I am, pushing my forties, and I still remember that thing from 25 years ago in very explicit detail.

Me, I also did a Nosferatu one. Again, they could have went the Bela Lugosi or the Count from Sesame Street route, but instead they chose the most frightening vampire of all. So, I really appreciated that. Just like with Zeebo the Clown, to me the simpler it is the better, right? Like the more simple it is, like if you look at Michael Myers, it's just that white mask, those dead eyes, and the darkness. In the later Michael Myers movies, there's too much Michael Myers, or they over complicated it, they dirtied the mask up. All right, Jason has too much stuff all over him. Or Predator has too much stuff.

So, I think with Nosferatu, the very basic shapes, the blackness, the head, and the white contrast with the black, and the angular claws, right? So, I think that's simplicity, without getting too overly complicated, too many colors, and other things, makes it way more scary. Your mind is just taking in the simple aspects without getting too convoluted and getting too wrapped up in too many weird details. That's why I consider it more, those episodes felt more high art for me.

Philip: You mentioned about your childhood and your parents kind of pushing a little bit of this. How do you think that has influenced your career and where you are as an artist?

Jimi: Well, at the time I used to get so annoyed because I would want to watch funny, silly, goofy kid shows. My father was very insistent that we watch like the classic horror, or even something like either a John Carpenter or something from the thirties and forties, doesn't matter, if it was good, we've watched it, that was our Saturday night. But growing up I go, "I'm glad I watched those things." Cause again, it peppers in a lot of what I do as an illustrator. So, it's like, okay, now I have that as a reference, now I know what terror is.

I had a very good high school days, and I think I was a wanderer. I wasn't really a part of anybody. But I would try to be a party of my own, and I can only do that with what I drew. That was my voice. And that was what made me connect to everybody, because everybody could appreciate good art.

Philip: Next up, Victor Acuña, who is the owner and co-founder of Unwrapped Art.

Victor: We are really just fanatics of stop motion and horror.

Philip: Victor created one of the showcase pieces for the gallery, which is a model of Monster House from the movie Monster House. It took about two and a half weeks of his full attention, and the entire thing is handmade. He wasn't quite sure if he wanted to do Monster House at first.

Victor: We took a poll, and we got a lot of positive feedback that, yes, this was something people wanted to see. So, then we knew we kind of had to do this and added it to the list. This movie was created in CGI, so creating a physical model it was important to me.

Philip: Okay, walk me through the process of taking something that was in CGI and turning it into a physical model for this art show.

Victor: So, I just made a rough paper model, and I think that really dictated the size. It was a tough timeline, really condensed. I went, grabbed the balsa wood, grabbed the bass wood, grabbed all the materials I needed and just started cutting. Didn't make plans, so it was kind of a live sculpture. Each piece is cut by hand, shaped, broken, and then just assembled like that. And it was just one by one, and every panel, every shingle, every splinter of wood on there, yeah. It was very organic.

I wanted to make a house, but then it needed to be the character. So, trying to capture as much of the character of the house was my biggest challenge. But I know that paint can make or break a model. So, when it was done in wood, I was really happy with the results. And then I thought, "oh no, I still have to paint this." It was a little nerve wracking, like trying to select the colors that kept it creepy, and kept the tone of the film, and not stray away from that too much.

Philip: Talk to me a little bit about how you worked so much character into the model.

Victor: I think the pieces that we create here, we try to capture a moment that tells as much story as possible. So, to go beyond the realm of just a toy, we try to give it as much life as possible. So, I tried to do the same thing with the house. It's a house, and it's not really any like extravagantly designed house, it's rather a simple house. So, every piece of that structure has to have so much character. I was really trying to be mindful of that as I built it.

I think the other artistic choice I made were the arms. In the film, I feel the arms are a lot stronger, and they are kind of bulky and heavy. For this piece I wanted to make them look more like the hands, and a little nimble, kind of like it's lifting up the house without really doing that. And we feel the weight of each branch as it might be a finger or a hand. We added the kite too, the kite is like a little Easter egg for the fans, and it was a last-minute thing.

There's lighting in the house, and on the first floor there's green lighting, like in the film. At that proximity, those lights blow out all kinds of color. I treated the wood as I would clay, and I just tried to go from start to finish and kind of work as fast as I could to maintain the image I had in my head.

Philip: Now that we've heard from some of the artists about their pieces, let's meet back up with Jeff. We're going to walk with him through the gallery and we'll hear about some of his favorite pieces, and a little bit about the easter eggs that are worked into the exhibit

Jeff: One of my favorite pieces, I love this. The Halloween or the monster cereals, we get the Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and BooBerry, which is like super iconic. Like, this is the type of stuff that Spooky Kids Club is all about. Some people, it's the monsters, right? Like, that's not so much my cup of tea, but some folks it totally is. Over this way, Are You Afraid of the Dark, we got the full throne, which I think is super awesome, in front of the campfire. Which that's totally like my Spooky Kids Club nostalgia.

So, I feel like we cover a bunch of different generations here in Spooky Kids Club, whether it's, you know, the old, black and white shows, or some of the newer stuff I grew up with, and even newer, way newer than that, Coraline, right?

We got a whole room over here, which we call it the Black and White Room, cause it's full of black and white stripes. Of course, I think when people think of black and white stripes, very often that Tim Burton comes to mind. So, we've got a little Nightmare Before Christmas set up with a bunch of artwork. Oh, I love these pieces here of the Tim Burton dogs, essentially. We get Zero from the Nightmare Before Christmas, and Sparky.

Oh, this piece here is super cool. I don't know if you notice this, but we got. Jack Skellington and Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas sitting out in the backyard, watching Halloween. Which has kind of a theme here, you might've noticed a few times, a lot of the artists who have done work here before they'll work, Michael Myers into a lot of different pieces from different sorts of pop culture, just because we're right next to the Michael Myers house, of course.

This one, this piece is called Operation Creature, who was a Bob Lizarraga did this piece. And it looks like the classic operation game we all know, those bright yellows, bright reds. But instead of that human body, we've got the Creature from the Black Lagoons body instead. Inside we've got a swamp frog in the throat, the fishermen's knot, fun little kind of play on the classic game, but with a little spooky twist to it.

 Most of the stuff here is artwork, original artwork, but we've got actually some original props from stuff as well. Now, the Ben Cooper Halloween Mask, super classic, right? And we've got a nice little collection sent to us by Schiffer Iselle Cooper, who actually is, I believe if I'm getting this right, the great niece of Ben Cooper, and these are from her private collection. It's been really fun talking with her, and she obviously has more than this, but we selected these because we felt like they were the most classic Halloween. We've got like a Frankenstein's monster, a Dracula, a classic witch and werewolf, but one of the things that she was really insisting, she was like, "make sure you display the boxes as well, because the boxes are as iconic as the masks." And this one up top especially, the monster costume and mask box that has like illustrations of all the monsters is really cool.

And in this case as well, we have some props and collectibles from the TV series Are you Afraid of the Dark on loan to us from DJ Mikael, the series co-creator. One of the cool things is the treasure chest from the two episodes arc of, Are You Afraid of the Dark called the Tale of Cutters Treasure. And if you come to check it out, take a look from underneath, it's on top of a glass container. So, you can take a look from underneath, and you will see the name, Ian Keegan carved into the bottom of the treasure chest, which is actually a big story point in that episode, which is really cool.

Oh, I love this, the original proposal for a show called Scary Tales, which was eventually renamed are You Afraid of the Dark. And we got like the character outline of the Midnight Society, and we even have the original claw, the twisted claw from the "first episode." There are several first episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark. But yeah, it's a very cool collectible to have, and very nice that he's loaning them to us.

And, of course, you need photo ops, right? Everybody wants photo ops these days. So, one of my favorites is, it's so simple, so stupid, but I just love this little guy we've got under his ghost bed sheet, but of course there's holes all over him, pail full of rocks, because Charlie brown, "I got a rock." Right? I love that. Speaking of Charlie brown, we have a cool pumpkin patch photo op with you know, It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie brown. Really fun, candy corn, little farm who doesn't love candy corn? I certainly do. And set that up there for people to come and enjoy and play in the backyard.

 In the backyard, this is where we have our big events and movie nights throughout all of Spooky Kids Club. Every weekend there's something most nights, and we're doing a lot of backyard screenings with a lot of special guests, and it's all going to happen right here. Which, if you were standing here, you would see it's a nice sized space. It's not like tiny, but it's not huge either. So, if we're showing something you've never seen on a big screen, or if there's a special guest coming that you'd really like to meet, like this is kind of the perfect place to do it. I'm very excited about quite a few of them. They're going to be a lot of fun.

Philip: Half the fun of visiting exhibits like this is connecting with other guests. Here are two guests and their thoughts on the show.

Kid: I am that Creepy Cool Kid. I do cosplay, and I do movies. I could see it being very nostalgic for people, it's very fun here too. It's very well decorated.

Ted: Hello. My name is Ted Dougherty I am a huge fan of Halloween, and traditional fun horror movies, and family friendly, Halloween movies. When my buddy Jeff DePaoli told me about this exhibit that he helped put together, I couldn't wait to come check it out, and so that is what drew me instantly to this wonderful place.

Two memorable moments from tonight were seeing all of the cool references to the old McDonald's Happy Meal Halloween toys, loved them so, so much. And then the whole backyard area was wonderful. Decorated so beautifully with all the fun Charlie Brown references, those are my top two moments.

Philip: What would you say to someone who has never been to SugarMynt before?

Ted: Well, for this specific gallery, if you are a Halloween fan of anything from the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, two thousands, if you like pop culture, Halloween, this is the place for you. It's wonderful to know that there are people like me out there in the world that grew up with this wonderful Halloween kind of vibe. That absolutely verifies that I was indeed, and always will be, a spooky kid.

Jeff DepaoliProfile Photo

Jeff Depaoli

Jeff Depaoli hosts the podcast Dizney Coast to Coast and That Halloween Podcast. He has worked as a Voice Over artist, writer, host, and producer in the entertainment world. He has self-proclaimed as obsessed with entertainment, a Lover of Theme Parks, Immersive Experiences, Theatre, and Halloween & Haunts.

Ted DoughertyProfile Photo

Ted Dougherty

Writer/Director of Plague Productions

Ted Dougherty has worked in a creative capacity with Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights, Knott's Scary Farm, Queen Mary's Dark Harbor, LA Haunted Hayride, Cedar Fair, FX Networks, Epic Entertainment, Hollow Studios and Plague Productions. His start in the Haunt Industry came at Knott's Scary Farm's Ghost Town Scare Zone as a Slider