While on Instagram early last week (Therealjosegon) I was looking up #GIJoe to check out pictures from countless GI Joe fans around the world and by chance came upon a picture advertising a GI Joe Tribute Art show in a specialty retail store called BAIT located in Diamond Bar CA, and needless to say, my interest was piqued. I did a little researched on BAIT and learned that the event wasn’t just a GI Joe Tribute Art show to celebrate the theatrical release of GI Joe:Retaliation later this week, but was also a launch event for a new line of GI Joe designer vinyl 3″ mini figures from a designer group called “Loyal Subjects”. To mark the event, designer Les Schettkoe was to be on hand to sign figures for fans. That was enough to convince me to hop in my car and make the trip up to Diamond Bar!
I arrived a little early to scope out the store before the event and all I can say is WOW! The store combines fine art, pop art, fashion, collectibles, designer toys, video games, all rolled neatly into a superbly cool store. After wandering the store for a bit I headed up stairs to the gallery for the show. Again, WOW! The art was amazing! To augment the GI Joe experience, BAIT also had pieces from Hasbro, Sideshow, and Marvel Comics displayed alongside the art. Heck even, Optimus Prime made a cameo! There were many artist on hand who had their artwork featured in the show to talk GI Joe and art with fans and everywhere you looked there were groups of people recounting their childhood and discussing what GI Joe meant to them then and now. I got to mingle and chat with a few of the artist, but in particular with artist Kwestone, who had 3 art pieces on display. We had a lengthy conversation and shared more than a few laughs talking about everything from Joe, to DC Comics, to animation. Really talented guy! Here’s a picture of Kwestone standing next to his Baroness art piece
Unfortunately, not all artists were able to make the show and were sorely missed. Once such artist was Ray Leoncio, who had 4 mesmerizing prints featuring The Baroness, Scarlet, Lady Jay, and Jinx. I was able to chat a bit with Ray via email before the show and he graciously had set aside a full of set of prints for me! Thanks Ray!
A table was set up and it was time from Les to take center stage and begin his signing! Earlier in the evening, I picked up two of the blind boxed mini figures for Les to sign and was happy to open them and find Duke and Destro which made for the perfect Joe/Cobra combination. I was able to chat with him for a bit while he signed my figures and he was a really friendly and cool guy who was obviously very passionate and proud of his work.
The night saw a very healthy turnout and it was great seeing GI Joe fans from every walk of life enjoying GI Joe in new and exciting formats. I picked up a few amazing prints, made some new friends, and had a fantastic time! I personally love when GI Joe is presented as art – It’s events like this that take the brand to the next level and show that GI Joe can be so much more than a 12 inch or 3 3/4 piece of plastic, but rather a culmination of countless creators, artist, story tellers, product mangers, engineers, designers, all united to tell the story of a Real American Hero. Make sure you stop by the BAIT website at baitme.com to keep up with the latest in fashion, art and style and follow them on Twitter, facebook and Instagram!
Enjoy the gallery of pictures and say tuned for more! C’ya!