The distinctive work of the filmmaker Wes Anderson has inspired an art show at Wilmington’s Luna Caffe. Hung on the brick walls of the Castle Street coffee shop are interpretations of characters from such films as “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
WILMINGTON | The distinctive work of the filmmaker Wes Anderson has inspired an art show at Wilmington’s Luna Caffe. Hung on the brick walls of the Castle Street coffee shop are interpretations of characters from such films as “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
The exhibition, by Surf City artist David Mercer, opened on April 24 during downtown’s monthly Fourth Friday Gallery Nights’ self-guided art crawl.
“I think he’s very character-driven,” Mercer said of Anderson’s movies. “You get really invested in them and want to see more. Sitting down and painting allows you more to spend more time with them.”
Mercer’s paintings portray well-known characters while imbuing them with a sense of playfulness or introspection. The young teenagers from “Moonrise Kingdom” are profiled tenderly, moments before embracing, and a large painting of Ralph Fiennes extols his buoyant concierge Gustave in “Grand Budapest.” Gene Hackman’s Royal Tenenbaum is equally outsized, much like his character, and given a colorful churlishness.
Mercer isn’t the first artist to find inspiration in Anderson and his characters. Last year, the San Francisco gallery Spoke Art had an Anderson-themed exhibit of paintings, sculptures, dioramas and more curated from over 75 artists world-wide.
Self-taught and painting off and on since high school, Mercer’s sketch book work captured people’s attention. It led to him being asked to do an art show, and he was the first artist featured at Luna Caffe when it opened in 2013.
For the Anderson show, Mercer’s initial goal was to create three paintings from each of the director’s films. As it turned out, “Rushmore” and “Bottle Rocket,” Anderson’s first two films, aren’t represented at all, and Mercer said he’d also wanted to create more work from Anderson’s stop-motion animated film “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”
“There’s still time,” he said with a smile.
For his paintings, Mercer augments images selected from each film, making them his own while retaining the character’s humanity. When creating a piece he’ll create a sketch, get an idea going and see if it can be translated to a bigger piece.
“I try to make them a little wonkier than the direct image and try to stay true to the eyes,” Mercer said. “I like to play with the shapes of their faces.”
Mercer said he worked on the series in January and February, and when he needed a break he returned to his sketchbook.
Hanging on the wall in the back of Luna Caffe recently were two rows of pages torn from Mercer’s sketchbook. The unconnected images illustrated a creative mind poured out in colorful drawings – like with a loving portrait of Christina Ricci from “Addams Family Values,” a detailed, cartoonish advertisement and even more colorful images inspired by pop culture.
Mercer’s Anderson series will remain on display through May. The original paintings are for sale, and prints can be purchased on Etsy.