Coinciding with the opening of its Psychonauts 10th Anniversary art show, I had the opportunity to visit the iam8bit gallery in Los Angeles for the opening reception of its own 10th Anniversary art show.
The iam8bit gallery is divided into two rooms. Walking through their doors will take you into a long hall that doubles as a gallery and shop with all manner of relevant goodies, from cards and candy to higher end books and posters. This is where iam8bit is hosting all of the Pyschonauts Anniversary pieces.
But iam8bit really comes to life when you head into their main gallery. The room opens up into this massive display space that would be as perfectly suited on a date as with a group of friends. There are several couches scattered throughout the room, and the back wall has a giant projection screen that you can sit and play games on using a massive, wooden SNES controller.
As for the art, iam8bit really outdid themselves for this show. I’ve been a fan of iam8bit since the first time I saw that Ms. Pac-Man grenade grace the cover of their first book, and it’s wonderful to see that even after ten long years, they can still bring a unique eye to the world of gaming. Mirroring the city the gallery lives in, the featured works are a melting pot of styles and media.
I was particularly fond of Gabriel Bautista’s Micro-NES series, which are so tiny that you have to stop and look very closely at to truly appreciate.
Helen Vine’s Fatality’ is a violently beautiful, haunting piece.
Samus’s helmet explodes in Lon Chan’s Samus Dissection.
The unique shape of ghostpatrol’s Solstice memory rooms draw you in for a closer look from anywhere in the room.
Inus Pretorious’s moody piece, The Master Sword, was one of my favorites.
Jr. in the Jungle by Nicole Gustafsson is a fantastic interpretation of Donkey Kong Jr.
Invasion by Doaly is a great mash up of Asteroids and Space Invaders.
Plasticgod’s collection of canvas printed arcade cabinets are a punch of nostalgia.
I had a soft spot for Leesasaur’s Bubble Bubby, a crocheted bubble blowing machine of Bub from Bubble Bobble.
Edison Yan’s imaginative Videogames World Map stood out to me as well, and can tell you where many game worlds reside in relation to one another.
Now, I could go on forever about how great each piece is, but you really do need to see them in person to get the full experience.
It was great to see all of the usual characters like Super Mario, Link, and Sonic the Hedgehog interpreted in new and interesting ways, but it was also nice to see some slightly less mainstream games, like Altered Beast and Bionic Commando, represented in the gallery as well.
The iam8bit shop is loaded with several must-haves for fans of Mega Man, The Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Super Mario Bros. I put down a pre-order for Every Day is Play while I was there.
I had a great time at the iam8bit gallery. Art and gaming are both timeless. It’s great to see old, beloved gaming memories become new again through the eyes of an artist. I love that there is a place that fully embraces gaming culture. Speaking with fellow gamers about the displayed works as Mega Ran’s “For the Gamers” blasted through the place is a memory I won’t soon forget. Even though it was my first time in the iam8bit gallery, I felt right at home.
Both 10th Anniversary shows run through July 5th, so there’s never been a better time to visit the gallery. Happy birthday, iam8bit!