Chet Zar’s DY5TOPIA Evolves

Chet Zar’s DY5TOPIA evolves! Though it has been in the recesses of Chet Zar’s mind for over a decade, the process began in earnest this year on April Fool’s Day, with the success of the first DY5TOPIA Kickstarter. The generous assistance of the Zarmy allowed us to begin the arduous process of developing a Field Guide to the Dark Universe of Chet Zar. In order to truly capture the essence of Chet’s Dark Universe, we decided to approach the process from the standpoint of investigators; “When we embarked upon this journey to understand Dy5topia, we knew very little. What we did know existed in the paintings themselves. The paintings are the only “evidence” that we can base our investigation and research on. So we approached the process as interviewer (me) and interviewee (Chet Zar), observing the paintings simultaneously as the Q&A unfolded.” (excerpt from the Field Guide) 

Chet Zar's DY5TOPIA Evolves

Over a period of five months we developed the backbone of the field guide in the form of a classification system, which allowed us to organize over one hundred paintings, and so the field guide was born. Fast approaching though was Chet’s annual Solo Exhibition at Copro Gallery. Having been immersed in the various dark corners of DY5TOPIA for nearly half of a year, we recognized that the DY5TOPIA exhibition required funding. There was no other choice than to launch a second DY5TOPIA Kickstarter, in order to transform Copro Gallery into one such dark corner!

Chet Zar's DY5TOPIA Evolves

Once again, with the amazing support of the Zarmy, we were able to facilitate not only an exhibition, but an event and moreover, an experience! For those who had the pleasure of attending the opening night of DY5TOPIA, it was no doubt more than a simple event. Working up until the last minute Lee Shamel and the Figment Foundry crew, owned and operated by James and Tayler Brown, assembled DY5TOPIA piece by piece. The parking lot was alive with activity as everyone, many Zarmy members included, helped to seam together the elaborate set. Inside was no different with Erica Miller and Gary Pressman facilitating the final, minute details. 

Chet Zar's DY5TOPIA Evolves

As Cris Velasco‘s score rose and “Black Magick” (played by Rick Galiher and costumed by Junker Designs) emerged from the DY5TOPIA street scene staircase, an ominous sensation gripped the attendees. An uneasiness permeated the atmosphere, and it seemed those who came to look were almost afraid to see! The “Interloper” (created by Jim Beinke, played by Alexander Ward) snapped its arms as Zarmy members began snapping pictures, and the entire experience took on a very surreal quality. It seemed the fine line between our world and DY5TOPIA began to blur. Oddities appeared up in every direction you turned – trench coats, gas masks, beaks, rotten grimaces, everyone moving as if in slow motion. Water continuous sloshed from a rusty pipe, and nearby a skulking zombie peered into a storefront, where enormous centipedes writhed upon a countertop. Adjacent to the street scene were towering smokestacks glowing an ominous red, from which thick smog belched.” 

“Up the ramp and through an elaborate Mausoleum complete with a coffin, flickering candles and flying-gas-mask facades, and into the “Interloper” monitoring station, where flashing imagery and bizarre landscapes could be seen upon the screens, along with a live feed of those in attendance. Damien Echols held down Gallery 2, where DY5TOPIAN leaves swirled about gallery goers’ feet as they enjoyed his many “Collaboration” pieces. Gallery 1 boasted Chet’s fourteen paintings, framed atop rusty, drippy walls, with “Black Magick” periodically moving through the crowd. Five framed excerpts from the field guide hung near Chet’s painting “DY5TOPIA”, elaborating upon the many facets of “Creeple”, “Black Magick”, “Interloper”, “Landscape”, and “nOmen”.” (Kickstarter Update)

The following day I had the pleasure of returning to Copro Gallery, where Chet and I met up with Rick Galiher, and did some pick-up shooting. Aside from advising Rick on some basic “Black Magick” character information, we allowed him to feel out the “monster” on his own, with only minor direction. Shooting in tandem, Chet captured the secondary angle on his phone, while I captured the primary angle on my camera. Rick is, in my opinion, a genius at his trade, and this performance was no different! With footage in hand I returned from Los Angeles and set about editing together a short, experimental narrative of the footage that we captured. Toying with various cuts, filters and resolutions I was able to create an experimental short, which only increased our already teeming excitement concerning further permutations of DY5TOPIA.

Next the Field Guide text will be handed over to editor Tony Saavedra, while Chet creates the final images in preparation for everything to go to designer Mackie Osborne. The End is NEAR! In the meantime we are devoted to reward fulfillment for the two Kickstarters, and with that in mind, check this out: You can still get DY5TOPIA Merchandise, but only for a limited time here: BackerKit DY5TOPIA Store! Stay tuned for updates as we move forward with the evolution of Chet Zar’s DY5TOPIA…

Chet Zar's DY5TOPIA Evolves

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Mike Correll

Mike Correll's fascination with Dark Art is long standing. As a young child he began drawing the monsters that plagued his dreams. Despite the reprimands of his worried teachers, his parents supported him in his artistic endeavors, allowing him to creatively purge the often violent and grotesque images that came to him in his sleep. Drawings made way for collages and sculptures, but Correll sought a larger audience and ultimately turned to filmmaking. In 2002, he graduated with a B.A. from Fairhaven College at Western Washington University, pioneering a degree titled "Imaginative Moviemaking." His studies included screenwriting, film appreciation, video production, and fine arts. Although Correll resides in New Mexico, his home state is Washington where he received local accolades at the Projections Film Festival with his video work, taking Best Feature Documentary for "The Many Faces of Homelessness" as well as Best Animation for "Labyrinth of Penumbra". Correll also interned with EVR Films, where he worked to master skills related to special effects, costume/set design, directing, producing, editing, and cinematography. In addition, he has created TV commercials, music videos, and experimental narratives. His newest release, Chet Zar: I Like to Paint Monsters (2015), takes the audience into the dark and foreboding world of Chet Zar, where apocalyptic industrial landscapes are inhabited by disturbing yet beautiful monstrosities. Correll asks the question: Who is Chet Zar, and why does he like to paint monsters? Hailed by Tattoo Magazine as "Beautiful, moving and thought-provoking", and regaled by Clive Barker as "An inspiring and important film...", the documentary won an "Honorable Mention" at the Santa Monica Independent Film Festival, and the "Guerrilla Marketing" award at the Albuquerque Film and Music Experience.

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