Contemporary Art Month: Ethan Moore’s ‘After Life Portraits’

Light fades away and glow-in-the-dark marks subtly get brighter to reveal a luminous connotation of death. The image of Michael Jackson as a zombie in his iconic “Thriller” music video pops in phosphorescent paint, his eyes glaring in the dark.

Ethan Moore is an artist from San Antonio who has created a series entitled “After Life Portraits.” The series focuses on multiple themes of fear through the portraits of deceased pop-culture celebrities and classic movie monsters. Moore utilizes the style of pointillism, the use of painted dots to create a whole image, similar to that of artists Georges Seurat and Paul Signac.

The dots are painted on top of the glass of shadow boxes to create the images. The various materials inside the boxes make the pieces sparkle and shine. The contrast between the portraits and their vibrant backgrounds adds a dynamic effect to the artwork. There is also an apparent dichotomy between light and dark, which can symbolize life and death.

The contradiction may be that, in the dark, these reflections of death and horror actually become alive with their incandescent presence.

The play with perspective created by the shadow boxes makes the two-dimensional pieces appear almost three-dimensional. Moore’s idea is that ghosts materialize through electric energy, which is conveyed through the green color of the glowing dots.

The exhibit is being held at the Many Hands Gallery, a small and intimate art gallery unlike any other. Gently touching and taking pictures of the work is usually prohibited, but is permitted at this gallery. In the corner of the gallery, there is a section where the light is blocked off by long, black curtains; this is where the transformation begins. A few seconds go by and the portrait becomes its brightest.

Some “ghosts” to look forward to are Princess Diana, rapper Tupac Shakur, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. The portrait of Michael Jackson is entitled “Zombie” and is done with a glittery, silver background. In daylight, the details of Jackson’s face are not easily seen but stand out in the dark.

The movie monsters displayed are the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and the Bride of Frankenstein. Moore’s “Frankenstein” seems to be the most contradictory with its bright, pink glitter background contrasted against his menacing stare. Images can be seen on the Contemporary Art Month website, but it is best to make a trip to the gallery to get the full experience.

These “After Life Portraits” will be displayed until Friday, April 13 at Many Hands Gallery, which is located at 555 W. Bitters Rd. Admission is free and hours of operation are Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Forget your fear of the dark and enjoy the multifaceted works of Ethan Moore.