Beehive Society hosts offbeat ‘Arrested Development’ pop-up art show

Arrested Development2
The Beehive Society/Courtesy

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At Beehive Society’s “No Touching: Arrested Development Art Show” on Friday at Heron Arts, one of the oldest and noblest (and snootiest) forms of entertainment — the art show — was transformed into something hip and cool, and perhaps even beautiful.

Bringing almost 30 artists together to create paintings, prints, sculptures and models that honored the Bluth family was the Beehive Society, an organization that aims to make art and art shows popular and interesting for younger generations. Just last year, Beehive Society curated a “Parks and Recreation” art show, and in 2013, it hosted the “Winter is Coming: Game of Thrones Pop Up Art Show.”

“Let’s just have a fun night where we connect all these new amazing fun artists with our own generation of people who we’ve noticed aren’t really connected to art,” said Tam-Anh Nguyen, one of the four founding members of the society.

A stark reminder of the society’s rejection of the elite and proper hung on the wall in the form of Lindsey Lydecker Keller’s “Ya freak bitch,” a digital print of a confused Buster holding his puppet Franklin with those iconic words cascading from his lips after admonishing Lucille that he “don’t want no part of yo’ tired ass country club.”  

The Beehive Society also doesn’t want no part of any tired ass art shows, and its choice of pop culture themes is reflected by its audience: mostly young professionals and students, with little in common besides an obsessive fascination with the Bluths — starkly different than the largely older, wealthier patrons of the art show stereotype it aims to challenge.

Hanging firmly at this intersection of Millennial and ancient was Bernie Pesko’s “St. Lucille,” a digital rendering of the Bluth matron in the form of a religious icon. The iconographic rendering of Lucille, martini in hand, places Lucille where she belongs: among the saints — to be honored, revered and admired. It’s a firm reminder that, although Michael explained to Lucille that “God’s not going to listen to your prayers anymore,” St. Lucille might be listening to ours — though she (probably) won’t hear it and won’t respond to it.

Perhaps the highlight of the pop-up was Ashley Boyd’s “Arrested Development Menagerie,” a digital print of the show’s most popular characters together, including beloved cameos such as Bob Loblaw, Stan Sitwell, Maggie Lizer and J. Walter Weatherman. Its “Where’s Waldo?” aesthetic prompted the formation of a sizeable crowd around the piece, as folks pointed and excitedly yelled out character names and recalled iconic plot points. At one point, as somebody located the blue bear mascot that costumed private detective Gene Parmesan, the small gaggle of “Arrested Development” fanatics erupted in the characteristic Lucille greeting to Parmesan: a shrill scream, wide eyes and a glowing smile.

But the strength of the event was in its high volume of intimate pieces, all of which focused on singular characters and anecdotes from the show. Damon O’Keefe’s “Kind of Blue,” a painted pop-out carving of fan favorite Tobias Funke, seamlessly captures all that makes Tobias such a loveable character: his slightly confused yet confident gaze, his poorly fitting moustache, a pair of jean cutoffs and the fact that he “blue himself.”

Similarly, Wednesday Kirwan’s acrylic painting of Buster, mouth agape and hook hand raised, rendered the character while also hearkening to portraits of nobility that one might find at the DeYoung. In doing so, Kirwan showcased not only amazing talent for capturing a character who exists beyond the description of mere words, but also the spirit of the Beehive Society: merging pop culture and old form to excite a new audience.

And with little but essential details, such as the small pile of cash in the back of Damian Webb’s “Big Yellow Joint,” a small scale model of the Bluth Banana Stand (because there’s always money in the banana stand) or the not-so-mysterious prevalence of blue handprints on the walls, made the event into an interactive Bluth investigation, as if the patrons were Gene Parmesan himself.   

So whatever pop culture reference the Beehive Society comes up with for its next show — set to take place in late fall — it’s sure to be the most bitchingly off-the-hook party in all of San Francisco.

Contact Karim Doumar at [email protected].

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