Cult Status shows a little skin

Uptown’s Cult Status Gallery’s newest exhibit features a shocking mix of surrealist art and nudity

by Raghav Mehta

Peep Show Where: Cult Status Gallery, 2913 Harriet Ave. S. When: July 9 âÄì July 29 Price: Free Ever since Cult Status Gallery opened earlier this year, the newfangled Uptown art house hasnâÄôt struggled for attention. And their current Peep Show is no exception, as it pushes the proverbial envelope further, wandering into territory more vulgar and obscene than anything you would see during a typical jaunt through the Walker Art Center. Drawing from 30 different local and national artists, Cult StatusâÄô summer Peep Show is a racy collection of portraits, murals and computer-generated work that ranges from eye-catching to just plain head-scratching. The gallery includes contributions from artists such as Venus DeMars , Scott Seekins and Heather Gabel. âÄú[We] tried to make some of the naughtiest stuff we could make,âÄù said Cult Status artist Erin Sayer. And after just a cursory look at the Peep Show gallery, you can tell Sayer is not being hyperbolic. Blending surrealist art with nudity, the gallery definitely isnâÄôt for the faint-of-heart. In the corner of the first floor stands a towering mural painted by Twin Cities artist Venus DeMars depicting an exposed transsexual impaled with arrows with blood spilling out from the sides. The Peep Show was formed through friends and acquaintances of Cult Status who were seeking an outlet for their more provocative work. Sayer and artist Nate Szklarski explained that risqué work such as the peep show-themed gallery are less likely to be spotted in Minneapolis, but are more common in major cities on the coasts. âÄúThe paintings are just too vulgar [for other galleries],âÄù Szklarski said. Chocked full of pop culture references, portions of the gallery also carry a more humorous, tongue-in-cheek tone. Inspired by AmericaâÄôs inexplicable Twilight obsession, Sayer produced a hand-painted portrait of the two studly male characters, Edward Cullen and Jacob Black , in a scene too racy to even make it into the vampire tragedyâÄôs deleted scenes. âÄúThere are so many female pin-ups, so itâÄôs kind of just like a funny statement on the guys from Twilight,âÄù Sayer said. Other pieces are simpler. Szklarski specializes in tattoo flash art by employing black ink, water color and then staining it with tea. At another end youâÄôll find a gaudy smorgasbord of pornographic magazine cutouts plastered onto the wall. The Cult Status Gallery Peep Show surely isnâÄôt your grandmotherâÄôs idea of art. Hell, it probably isnâÄôt your motherâÄôs idea of art either. But itâÄôs original, the images are arresting and itâÄôs a unique opportunity to witness up-and-coming talent as well as more established artists exhibiting their most raw and provocative work that would otherwise go unseen.