Film: Artists show how Halloween feels

By Laura Wilson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 6, 2005

The life of the typical artist can be wrought with rejection, but Lulubell Toy Bodega owner Luke Rook is looking to ease the pain for those wannabe Picassos whose works fall a little bit outside of the mainstream.

"I don't take stuff that I know would do well in another gallery," Rook said. "If you can't get into a gallery, or you're just not being represented very well, bring (your work) in."

Friday night will mark the beginning of the second art installation at Lulubell. Running until the last week in November, the show will revolve around the idea of Halloween.

"The inspiration was what Halloween invokes in you and the artist. It is just the feeling of Halloween," Rook said.

What began as just a twinkle in Rook's eye has become a haven for local artists whose penchants for representing unusual aspects of pop culture have often denied them access to other galleries. Opening last year, Lulubell is first and foremost a toy store featuring far-out collectibles, but Rook believes that his business is finally ready to explore its gallery side.

"Things were a bit rocky starting out, but now my goal is to have a new show every month," Rook said.

Acknowledging that some might consider his goal lofty, Rook is not afraid of running out of talent.

"There is really awesome work in Tucson and there are artists doing really great stuff. There are also a lot of people who are really receptive to the art that I'm showing and the way that I'm showing it. It's all fine-art quality work that most galleries would not want to touch," Rook said.

One artist who has found a niche at Lulubell is media arts senior Matthew Reel, who won the Loft Cinema screen competition last spring for one of his films. Reel will be screening the short film "The Goat Sucker" Friday night, accompanied by a collection of some of his shorter works and a music video for a song about "The Goat Sucker."

Although Reel, a talented cross-stitch artist, has had several works for sale at Lulubell since the store was opened, it was his curiosity, and not his art, that led him to Rook.

"I was driving down the street one day and (Rook) had an Elvira cutout in the window. I had to see what that was all about. I was just talking to him and we started discussing hanging some of my pieces," Reel said.

"The Goat Sucker," which was written and directed by Reel and produced with help from his partner Kevin Lessek, is described by Reel as "an avant-garde exploitation film." The leading lady of the film is Elske McCain, a former Tromette of the Month for B-movie empire Troma Films. Reel befriended her online before asking her to make her on-screen debut in his film.

"When we started ("The Goat Sucker") at the end of June, it was just something to do and then it ballooned into this monstrosity. It's about a serial killer that lives in the desert and he's looking for a victim for a snuff film, but it looks like it comes from the Seventies," Reel said.

The relationship between Rook and Reel has grown from simply one of gallery owner and represented artist to more of a partnership. One of the additional films that Reel will be showing is "Bathwater," a film produced by and starring Rook.

Lulubell Toy Bodega is located at 1832 E. Sixth Street. The Halloween Art Show opens tomorrow with a screening of Matthew Reel's "The Goat Sucker" at 7p.m. For store hours and more information call 622-LULU (5858).