Okay, I know that as the Chicago Haunted Places Examiner I should be talking about real haunted places but believe-you-me Horrorbles, at 6729 W. Roosevelt Rd. in Berwyn, is one of the most haunted places in the suburban Chicago area.
Instead of being haunted by disembodied spirits, it is haunted by every cool horror collectible that you can think of. In addition to the cool collectibles that run the gamut from autographed magazines to actual relics from the "Chainsaw massacre house", there are classes on horror makeup and halloween props, visits by horror celebrities and the Galerie des Terrors which includes a meeting room as well as a mini movie theatre and is also used by local artists to display their artwork which is the subject of this particular article.
John Aranza, the owner and brainchild behind Horrorbles, had invited artist Kimberly MacAulay to show off her post apocalyptic mixed media portraits for the entire month of May. Of course those of us, like myself, who prefer to use easier to spell and pronounce words would call them, "Real Cool Zombie Paintings!"
I have to admit that when I ventured into the Galerie des Terrors on the evening of Friday, May 6th, I expected Kim to be an extremely dark individual with a love for death and gore. What I got were some amazing paintings created by a very personable artist who was full of life. I am not an art expert or critic but I know when there is talent involved and I feel that art should be something that spurs thought and conversation and Kim's work does just that. At first glance you cant' help but be struck by the dark creepiness of some of the paintings such as the one entitled "Playtime" which depicts a baby sitting down playing with some hapless victims entrails. I am a big fan of creepy things and I know from past halloween displays in my yard and countless scary movies that there is nothing more creepy than kids or babies used to scare people. In fact one Halloween I had a friend's young daughter (I believe she was about twelve and loved to scare people) dress up in a white dress and hold a teddy bear while standing next to a full scale model of a crypt that I had set up in my back yard with a fog machine and some blue lights. I told her not to say anything or do anything but move slightly every once in a while and people would wander back there and immediately turn around and walk out. I was even a little creeped out and I had set it up. (But I digress!)
Again at first glance you notice the creepiness of the paintings but then as you look at them you start noticing the great use of light and reflection and the realism of the paintings. You start to notice slight facial expressions on the "zombies" and you wonder what they are thinking. In one painting you simply see the profile of a young girl with dark hair whose eyes are closed and who has a nasty head wound. I noticed that her face looked extremely peaceful and I found myself wondering if she was a human who was a meal for a zombie or whether she was a zombie who was dispatched as most zombies in the movies are by a gunshot to the head or whether she was a human who took her own life to avoid becoming a zombie in the future. It wasn't until later that I learned that the title of the painting was "Release" and that is exactly the feeling that I had when viewing the painting. That somehow this girl was being released from something that was worse than death itself.
Anyway, after I snapped out of my deep thought, (it happens sometimes) I talked to Kim for a while and was amazed that she had started out in her art career doing sketches and had only been working with oil for about 2 1/2 years! She received her BFA from Columbus College of Art & Design in 2005 in media studies and completed her MFA in August of 2010 from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California. I assumed that she was kind of a zombie nut but found out that the whole zombie genre (if there is such a thing) was something that she had experimented with fairly recently and was actually interested in it from the anatomy standpoint. She said that she had more of a love/hate relationship with zombie movies in that she enjoys being scared but pays for it later when she tries to sleep. She has exhibited her pieces at various other venues including Limestone Coffee and Tea and Water Street Studios in Batavia, IL and Black Cloud Gallery in Chicago. She also has a very generous heart and has donated many of her works to local charities like the International Reptile Conservation Foundation, The Greater Chicago/Illinois Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Howard Brown, and to off-set the cancer treatments for Daddy-O Grande a member of the musical group, Los Straitjackets.
You know, Kim had mentioned that much of her paintings were influenced by an instructor of hers who taught in the styles and techniques of some of the great masters. I have a feeling that if Rembrandt was alive today, who knows, he may have tried his hand at some great zombie painting.
Kimberly MacAulay's paintings will be on display and available for sale at Horrorbles in Berwyn for the entire month of May. You owe it to yourself to check it out. Don't worry, they wont bite! If you want to learn more about Kimberly and where she is showing in the future you can visit her online at KimberlyMacAulay.com, become a fan of hers on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kmacfa