100 Ghost Stories

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  • Ongoing: until Monday, October 22, 2012
  • Sunday: 12:00pm
  • Wednesday: 12:00pm
  • Thursday: 12:00pm
  • Friday: 12:00pm
  • Saturday: 10:00am
  • Where: Wonder Fair: Art Gallery, Shoppe and Studio, Lawrence
  • Cost: Free
  • Age limit: All ages

The tradition of “100 Ghost Stories” began in Edo Japan as a popular Autumn-time parlor amusement involving 100 lit candles, 100 storytellers, and a single extinguishing puff of breath from each when their story was told. Darkness and tension gathered gradually amongst the assembled storytellers as the night crept in and lights went out. Meanwhile, camaraderie and over-active imaginations formed an invisible ward against chillier realities—the impending winter, and growing political unrest in their nation…Sound familiar?

This Halloween-Election season, Wonder Fair has invited ten artists and ten storytellers to participate in our own version of 100 Ghost Stories—taking the form of a print portfolio exchange, an art exhibition, a haunted installation, a zine publication, an evening of ghostly story-telling, and a special evening of film screenings.

Wonder Fair’s 100 Ghost Stories begins with Kansas City artist Dustin Williams (http://sorrysorrytown.tumblr.com/), founder, designer, and ghost investigator in the KC-based Paranormal Artist Coalition (paranormalartistcoalition.tumblr.com). Williams’ colorful geometric design aesthetic is reminiscent of Roger Hargreaves’ ever-popular 1970s Mr. Men and Little Miss childrens’ book series, though Williams’ work features more sinuous clean lines and wittier, more adult banter. Williams’ witty wordplay will be everywhere present in 100 Ghost Stories, from his haunted video store installation—where guests can ask for a special “dismembership card,”—to our gallery of original screenprinted masks, and the pages of our ghost-themed zine. A long-time Wonder Fair collaborator, 100 Ghost Stories will mark Williams' first large-scale exhibition in Lawrence.

Nine additional mask artists hail from the overlapping realms of illustration, printmaking, and graphic design, and include local artists Christa Dalien, Rudy Marron, Jeff McKee, Alex Schubert, and Teal Wilson as well as nationally-known illustrators Theo Ellsworth, Lizz Hickey, John Malta, and Jennifer Parks. Each mask artist was invited by Wonder Fair curator Meredith Moore to create an edition of ten masks, suitable for framing or for wearing; the resulting edition of 100 masks forming a printed version of Japan’s 100 Ghost Stories. “But ours are not the latex-molded, Hollywood-sponsored Halloween masks that they’ll be slinging at the ‘Spirit Bootique’ this season,” Moore explains. “Rather, I hoped to bring back some of the playfulness of kitschy, super-saturated pop-toned paper masks made in the 1950s and 60s, and I wanted to tap into the narrative depth of Japanese ukiyoe woodcuts made to illustrate the popular 100 Ghost Stories.”

Fleshing out and giving depth to the two-dimensional mask edition are ten short ghost stories, written by ten authors selected by locals Kate Lorenz and Justin Runge. Their stories will appear in the 100 Ghost Stories zine, and will take center stage at a special evening of Ghost Story readings on Thursday evening, October 4th, from 8:00-10:00pm. Echoing the traditional Japanese 100 Ghost Stories format, listeners will gather close to hear authors read their stories by candlelight. Authors include local and national talents Crystal Boson, Mick Cottin, Phillip Garland, BJ Hollars, Megan Kaminski, Michael Lee, Kate Lorenz, Iris Moulton, Daniel Rolf, and Justin Runge.

And for the final chapter of 100 Ghost Stories, on October 18th Wonder Fair will co-host a special evening of Comedic-Horror film screenings, presented in cooperation with Liberty Hall. Springfield, Missouri Filmmaker Brook Linder will join members of his cast and crew to present the first Kansas screening of Ghoul School (http://ghoulschoolfilm.tumblr.com/), a 25-minute short film following two best friends who break into their high school to steal an exam, and find instead the wrathful spirit of an ex-principal. “It’s The Breakfast Club meets Poltergeist,” followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers. Linder will then introduce his pick for the feature film in this special double-header: The ‘Burbs. A not-quite-cult classic ‘80s film starring Tom Hanks, Carrie Fisher, and Corey Feldman, Linder cites The ‘Burbs as key inspiration for the tone of Ghoul School.

With enough artists, events, installations, publications, and programming to make your head spin (all the way around,) 100 Ghost Stories represents an unprecedented level of curatorial complexity, and showcases the Wonder Fair’s dedication to bringing innovation, creativity, and most of all, levity to the Lawrence arts scene. It’s only at Wonder Fair, September 28th to October 21st: Be there, be scared!

This event was posted Oct. 3, 2012 and last updated Sept. 16, 2014

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