Saturday, July 30th, was an amazing night at Creature Features, as we launched my new book, Gris Grimly’s Tales From The Brothers Grimm. On display were thirty framed original watercolor paintings from the book in the gallery space of the store. But to get there, you had to pass through a small room that was designed and decorated by my wife and a handful of friends. This space transported the individual to a mystical world preying on all possible senses. Before the curtains even parted, the aroma of dewy pine trees and spiced gingerbread cottages indicated that another world existed beyond. Within the room, earthy turquoise walls and incense calmed the soul, preparing the mind for a heightened sense of consciousness. The overgrowth of ferns, moss and other fauna let you forget the urban world you came from and enticed a carefree existence within this enchanted realm. It was a spiritual domain, cloaked in sacred tapestries and laced linens, dimly lit by candles and mythical orbs.
The 19th Century resonated during the research that took place in and around production of the book. Grimms Fairy Tales are a collection of Germanic folk tales that have no author and date back beyond generations as they were handed down through verbal storytelling. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm took on the scholarly roles to collect these tales and publish them in 1812. But it is the 1884 translation by Margaret Raine Hunt that I chose to focus on for the reprinting of the classic. The years in-between, and the events that occurred, shaped the tone and content of these didactic stories. I chose to set the stories and it’s characters in the Edwardian period that shortly followed. It seems to be the last age of magick, where although science was exposingfolklore at a rapid pace, superstition, devils and sorcery could still exist in unexplored regions of the woods and caves. This is the foundation of the book that I created, and I took it upon myself to create that experience at the event, by hunting down antiquated devices, utensils, furniture and taxidermy.
Signs of life and death abound all around, deep in the shadows, around corners and overhead. A mounted “wolf” guarded the entrance to the gallery. A royal frog anxiously waited upon his perch to steal kisses from beautiful maidens. The earthly remains of roebuck and faun lay scattered among the mulch floor and strewn over gypsy tables. The observant eye may have even caught a glimpse of an abnormally long lock of flaxen hair weaving throughout thickets of branches. The ancient melodies of folk songs representing Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, and other European countries, danced through the humid air in a composition of fiddle, dulcimer, nyckelharpa, flute, accordion, and violin. Two spirited drinks were concocted and offered. The first, a favorite of mine called Faithful John, was a smoked whiskey enriched with Eastern spices, aromatic herbs, and a hint of anise. Smoldering rosemary unleashed a wormwood enchantment. The second, called Seven Ravens, was a sweet black berry infused Grauburgunder, whose amethyst transformed before your eyes. It was crisp, decadent, and bewitching. A gallery of baroque and romantic paintings were displayed in the room, reminding the contemporary multitude, that we were once a theistic species who feared God, conflicted with the devil, and believed in magick.
Once beyond this sensory experience, the individual was changed and thus prepared to exhibit the artwork from Gris Grimly’s Tales From The Brothers Grimm. Or, at least that was my intention as I felt it was important that the viewer share the same consciousness I had when I approached the cautionary tales for illustration. I was in the gallery through the duration of the event, mostly sitting at a Victorian table that was overtaken by moss, sipping whiskey and signing the new book for attendees. Every book purchased that night received a sketch of the Frog King. By the end of the night, I was drawing Frog Kings in my sleep.
Along with the exhibit and book signing, I released new limited edition prints and other merchandise to sell at the event. One print that was released exclusively for the event (and sold out) was an irregularly sized reproduction of Rapunzel from the book. We also released a signed and limited edition set for Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Cap. These prints are currently available in the store. We will also be releasing a limited edition print of The Frog King. Follow me on any of my network sites to be informed when this happens. I am also happy to have released the first set of enamel pins in an ongoing collection that I will be releasing regularly. This first design is the Frog King lifted straight from the cover of the book. He was released in both emerald green and the limited numbered edition of the albino variant. All of which are available in the store with only a couple albino variant pins left.
Overall, it was an unforgettable time. Old fans/new fans, old friends/new friends, and strange vagrants who just happened to stumble in for free booze, participated in a magickal evening that occurred once, and will exist in history as “Once upon a time…”. This is the way I like to celebrate the release of a new book. Gris Grimly’s Tales From The Brothers Grimm was ideal for such a big festivity and beckons fantastical set designs. But I plan on approaching future book releases in the same way, collaborating with my wife, and friends, to deliver a once in a lifetime experience that will one day feel like a dream.