Having just returned from Toy Karma 3 show at Rotofugi in Chicago I am immediately thrown back into the Kaiju toy work. I’ve barely had enough time to think about the event… although I can say that it was the best one yet ! Not only from an attendance standpoint, but also in terms of sales. The new store/gallery space Rotofugi has moved to, in one word, is Spectacular ! This should be no surprise as both owners Kirby and Whitney Kerr have carefully crafted a devoted following, while supporting and showcasing many talented artists worldwide. Their strong work ethic and devotion to this industry is as real as is their passion to present artists in the best possible way.
I’m so bad at remembering stuff … I guess I live in the moment mostly, and usually am scheduled out for up to a year or more with various Max Toy projects. As I talked to Kirby after the show, he reminded me how Toy Karma originally came to be … he said he had approached me about doing a solo show at their gallery … but, me being not confident anyone would show up to such a show, suggested a group show with a focus on Kaiju. The rest, as they say, is history!
Oh, I’m not going to post endless pictures of the items in the show, I have decided… in part, because there’s over 100 items in this show ! You can see them all at the various links at the end of the blog.
I love going to Chicago ! I never have enough time to really explore the city, but regardless, each time I return I see a bit more. This time, as the other times, I combined a trip to Michigan to visit family with work … which in hindsight, was maybe a bit too much to cram into one trip ;-P
I flew into Michigan and spent a few days eating and exploring.
Korean food the first night…and morning brings freshly made popovers ! yummy !
The local comic stores …my yearly visit to Vault of Midnight .. where I really should buy these Max figures that I have seen there the past 2 years ;-P
and Fun 4 All, where its YuGiOh! Dual Terminal machine was waiting for me to get some cards for Max.
and another dinner, here’s some fried calamari 😉
The day before the show, we drove in the rain to Chicago.
A mere 4.5 hours.. for me, a quick drive compared to driving to Los Angeles, which takes 6+ hours.
Our Days Inn hotel room, modest but comfy .. except for the sirens throughout the night (> <) haha …the next day, Saturday, I was able to get one Chicago Dog but wish I could have had more….yummy !
posed with this cow in the hotel lobby !
We arranged to meet up with Alex Wald and see his awesome collection of Japanese toys and more ! For those who don’t know, Alex is one of the earliest Japanese toy collectors in the US … can you believe he use to write to the department stores in Japan and buy Bullmark figures via the snail mail back in the late 70s ?? Amazing ! I love hearing these stories .. and actually hope to one day have enough time to sit down and talk to all these early collectors and maybe compile them into some sort of history of US Japanese toy collecting.
But, I digress … while looking around i spied this awesome figure … “What the heck is that ?!!..it’s very cool !!”, I said … well back in the day, Alex tried his hand at sculpting his own space hero figure, replete with hand cut mirrors ! He also had a very Bullmark looking Gamera he sculpted … ! Really cool ! Alex, ever the renaissance man !!!
Oh, and Alex gave me this hand painted Garakutagigas toy !!! Yay !! Garakutagigas is a collab with Alex’s design and master sculptor Okuda-san of Atelier G-1 and is Alex’s first ever vinyl toy.
I spied this long box, and after opening it, was floored to find this friction powered tin train inside. I have to say, even with all of Alex’s beautiful Bullmark vinyls in his room this toy by far was my favorite… can you imagine getting one of these if you were a kid ?!! Gah !!
It’s never enough time, and we had to go grab some Mexican food before the show..which Alex and his wife so graciously treated us to ! 😉
Running late, we made our way over to the gallery. Let me say, whenever I put on a show, I really never know how many people will show up … I always expect no one will show up ;-P But, I had nothing to fear as soon as we walked into the gallery, it was full and everyone made me feel right at home 😉
One artist even showed me a tattoo in progress on his leg …Wow !
I was so busy chatting away, that I failed to take ANY pics or video during the night !! At least my nephew snapped some pictures but sorry to say didn’t get any of the crowd … my one regret .. but that’s OK .. a good time was had by all, including a random dancing girl that i missed who kept folks entertained 😉
Before I knew it, the store was closing and Toy Karma 3 was in the history books.
While many items have sold, there are still some really awesome pieces available via this link: http://rotofugi.com/gallery/exhibits/TK3Exhibit2011/
I encourage you to support these artists and the arts in general. I know it’s a tough time for everyone .. but I’m a firm believer in the positive power of art and it’s ability to bring a bit of light and joy to the viewer. And yes, I’m one of those who believe more art in the world is a good thing.
I have discussed this before, but i firmly believe Toy Karma and shows like it are the modern day Salon Art shows of the past. While I might not live long enough to witness this, I do believe that the artwork and custom toys being produced today are part of a very unique art movement.
You can call it Art Toys or any other label, I actually don’t care what it’s called, but I hope you can support these artists by attending a show and if you can buying their artwork.
Yes, I am biased … Japanese Kaiju toys and art are my passion, and something I continue to talk about and showcase to anyone willing to hear me. If the folks i talked to at Toy Karma are any indication, there’s still many artists developing and crafting their own toys and art. I suspect by the time we start prepping for Toy Karma 4 in 2013, that we will be able to showcase many new artists. I’m all for inclusion versus exclusion …. and while I can not personally help each and everyone of you out there, I do hope you continue to make your art and keep pursuing your dream.
I briefly returned the following day to snap a few pictures and actually get a better look at the show myself.
while exploring downtown Chicago we found this deli and I had a mouthwatering pastrami sandwich…and saw this huge choco bar .. was tempted to buy it but didn’t want to lug it home on the plane !
Chicago itself is a stunning city to take in, from the beautiful buildings…
to the overhead subway tracks .. visually, so different from San Francisco !
I wish i could have wandered around more and simply took pictures or sketched.
As we left, the Toy Gods parted the clouds and the sun shone down !
Of course, back in Michigan, the eating continued .. this time a yummy Cuban sandwich.
and the last meal, appropriately Japanese Ramen !
When i returned home to San Francisco, someone asked if the success of this show meant toy sales were doing better … I hope so … but you know, I think overall we need to be more positive as we move into the future… something we can all do… and best of all it’s free !
Thanks again to everyone who came out, traveled to the show and supported us from afar.
I’m sending you all Toy Karma !
Additional Toy Karma 3 show coverage can be found here: