Gallery show celebrates Bill Murray
// Leah Scheitel

It was a sea of red toques and Bill Murray masks at the Fall Gallery on Feb. 18, as people gathered for Bill You Murray Me?, an art exhibit inspired by and dedicated to the one and only Bill Murray. As a comic who got his start in the early days of SNL, he became an unexpected cult icon. “It’s pretty much a party: a party with Bill,” explains Christina Chant, co-creator and curator of the event.

The event was all by donation and the proceeds all went towards purchasing art supplies and renting the gallery. “It goes to keeping the party going,” says Chant.

Prior to the exhibit, Chant made a call for submissions. The end result was an eclectic collection of fan art: “There [are] about 130 pieces of art and it’s all mixed mediums, so there’s painting, drawings, digital prints, metal work, stained glass – there’s everything,” explains Chant. “Glitter, feathers, macaroni – everything.”

Some of the work is from Chant’s circle of friends, but most was donated to the exhibit: “There is some from my friends because we had some painting and drawing parties, and the rest are external submissions. I’ve had about 70 or 80 submissions from people I don’t know.”

Prices of the art ranged from $20 to $750. The most expensive was a stained glass work of Steve Zissou, Bill Murray’s character from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Not all of the works were for sale, though: “It’s up to the artists if they want to sell their pieces,” Chant says. “Some of them are for sale, others aren’t. And the proceeds go directly to the artist, which they appreciate.”

The event was originally going to be held at the Toast Collective Gallery on Kingsway and Main, but was relocated after it received so much publicity and attention: “Because of the scale of the event, we had to switch venues. The Toast Collective is an amazing space; it’s just that we couldn’t safely host the event there because of capacity.”

The Fall Gallery is a larger space and located close to the Granville skytrain station, making it more accessible for a larger crowd: “The Fall Gallery has about 1,300 square feet of gallery space, so it can hold about 300 to 400 people at a time. We are going to have visuals, and there is a space for a bar. It’s a nice space and it’s very accessible,” explains Chant.

The exhibit featured all different kinds of art, a bar serving cold beverages, and a DJ playing music from Bill Murray movies mixed into his repertoire.

The inspiration from this event stemmed from a previous collection that Chant and her friends held called The Steven Seagallery, which was art dedicated to ex-marine and movie star, Steven Segal: “One of our friends had always talked about doing a ‘Steven Seagallery’, and we thought it was a hilarious idea. We took it over, and put it up at Burning Man, and there was a really great response. From that, I was left with about 40 pieces of art at my house. I contacted a place, and together we organized The Steven Seagallery, which was at the Toast Collective. We had over 100 people attend, and there was a great response to it and it was so fun, so we decided to do another one. I asked some friends who was the right person to pick, and someone suggested Bill Murray, and it was like, ‘Yup, that’s the right one’.”

He was indeed the right guy to pick. The exhibit opened at 7pm, and the gallery was at capacity by 8pm. There was a 20-minute line up for the remainder for the night.

“I think people just really like Bill Murray,” Chant explains in regards to why the event received so much attention. “He is a very loveable person, and a kind of cult icon among our demographic.”

Publicity for the exhibition was primarily through word of mouth. “I approached it the same way I did with the Steven Seagallery,” Chant says. “We made an event page and put posters up around Main Street and Commercial [Street], as well as some of the different colleges, like Emily Carr, Langara, and Cap [University].”

In Vancouver, the exhibit is unique, but the interest in Bill Murray is international. Last year, a gallery in Los Angeles hosted Please Post Bills, a similar collection of 80 artists and their works all dedicated to Bill Murray.

Bill You Murray Me? was originally intended to be one-night only; however, the Fall Gallery has agreed to let the show run for the next two weeks, and maybe longer. Chant is still working out the details with the gallery, but is already starting works on the next exhibit. “The next exhibit will be in June, and will feature the Spice Girls,” Chant says.

When asked what Bill Murray would think if he knew that there was an entire underground art show dedicated to him, Chant says, with a laugh, “He would probably ask why. And he’d probably get a kick out of it. I think he’d be flattered and a little bit embarrassed.”

Bill You Murray Me? Is on display at the Fall Gallery on 644 Seymour Street.

//Leah Scheitel, writer
//Graphics by Chris Dedinsky

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