"Sharknado" may be the most recent example of America's infatuation with the deep sea predator, but the Discovery Channel's annual celebratory tribute—a phenomenon known as Shark Week—has actually been hitting airwaves since 1987. And now, in the wake of both, "Ladyshark Week," a shark-inspired gallery showing in Los Angeles, rides the tide of culture's finned obsession, all in the name of charity. The group show is organized by CH contributor and Live Fast Mag founder Vivianne Lapointe, who has answered to the nickname "Ladyshark" for many years now.
Lapointe has uncovered and commissioned multiple works in the process of curating an exhilarating shark-centric exhibition. As a result, both the gallery visitors and the non-profit PangeaSeed, "an international movement uniting and educating individuals across the globe on the importance of protecting sharks and preserving the oceans," are reaping the benefits.
The exhibit showcases a collection of "shark-themed mixed media, acrylic, neon, and photographic works in the spirit of ocean conservation." According to Lapointe, "I commissioned the neon piece from Meryl Pataky a couple months ago. I've been loving everything she touches and I'm so happy about the Ladyshark Week piece. The other artists are all ones I featured in interview series on Live Fast Mag and have previously shown or worked with and adore." The artists featured include Jason Lee Parry, Vanessa Prager, Jenn Porreca, Cody Comrie, Chad Muska, Gregory Siff, Kimberly Kearney, Meryl Pataky, Justin Fry, BB Bastidas, Moüse, Kit Scarbo, Madsteez, Sticky Shaw, Shark Toof and Spencer Keeton Cunningham. From documentary-style photography to street art and fantastical role-playing scenes, all the work pulls from the rapturous energy of sharks.
The impassioned inspiration behind the exhibition erupted from a series of emotional reactions to the sea's apex predator, and also a desire to contribute to charity. Lapointe explains that "back in February when I went to Pow Wow Hawaii [PangeaSeed founder] Tre' Packard and I started talking about having me curate my own fundraiser in time for Shark Week 2013 in Los Angeles." Well before the encounter, a love of sharks circled Lapointe. She explains the origins of her nickname and the dedication that ensued: "Where does this obsession with sharks come from? To be completely honest, sharks are pretty much the only thing in life I can say I have always been uncontrollably afraid of. I've realized that overcoming phobias is perhaps the most empowering process in one's life, and an essential part of spiritual growth. The shark has become a symbol of courage and success, and being named 'Ladyshark' is my constant reminder to look past what scares me whether it be in love, in friendship or in business."
This past February, Lapointe went cage-diving in Hawaii—accompanied by two massive Galapagos sharks. "The creatures I thought were horrifying have since then become incredibly beautiful," she explains. This experience lead to a deeper involvement with shark protection, as her concern expanded over the fact that "humans have drastically depleted the oceans of sharks with most governments turning a blind eye to the mass slaughter of the species." With an eye for art and the resources to draw together a collection, Lapointe began Ladyshark Week, and the well-attended gallery opening was just the start of her mission to draw awareness around this global issue.
The charity, PangeaSeed, "aims to unify and connect individuals around the world, opening a dialog to share ideas and develop a better global understanding of our connection with sharks and the oceans. Through education, awareness and action we are working together to solve this environmental crisis." Ladyshark Week manages to educate as much as it inspires and Lapointe's eagerness is infectious. As it turns out, her curatorial prowess is admirable, as well. Evocative art for charity makes Ladyshark Week a must-stop.
Ladyshark Week will take place nightly at 7-11PM from 12-19 August 2013 at The Gallery Next To The Burgundy Room.
Images courtesy of Laura Austin