Upstart art breeds at home 

There's no shortage of visual art in Central Florida, only viable places to hang it. But while curators jockey for our precious gallery space, Rebecca Ellis has come forward with an intrepid -- if temporary -- solution: Why not just use her house?

A part-time painter and a science student at Seminole Community College ("I don't think an art degree would do anything but get me a job at Target," she says), Ellis is opening her Maitland home to the public for the Saturday, Sept. 8, viewing of "Pink: Stuckist Exhibition," a touring collection of paintings that constitutes Florida's first exposure to the Stuckist movement.

The very nature of that movement explains its bypassing of, say, the Orlando Museum of Art or the Gallery at Avalon Island -- and its arrival instead at Ellis's house -- for its Sunshine State premiere. Founded in 1999 in London, Stuckism is a pro-painting, anti-gallery initiative that rejects the alleged hijacking of art venues by the conceptualists.

"They do not subscribe to the sterility of galleries," Ellis says of the Stuckists. "They `believe` that art should be experienced in a place where you have access to tables and chairs and cups of tea. `Personally`, I've never gone to see art where I could even sit down."

According to Ellis, the movement got its name when its co-founder, Billy Childish, was subjected to the following insult by his former girlfriend, Tracey Emin: "Your paintings are stuck! You are stuck! Stuck, stuck, stuck!" That Emin is a dyed-in-the-wool conceptual artist -- "She took her bed to the `Tate` gallery, put condoms and pregnancy tests on it, and won a significant prize," Ellis reports with obvious disgust -- must not have made the atmosphere in their own home any lighter.

"I don't think that pickled animals in galleries ought to be recognized as art," Ellis opines, though she points out that she's not technically a Stuckist herself, just a painter who agrees with many of their tenets: "It's enough that they're making a statement that painting is not dead."

Ellis is so impressed by the Stuckists' pluck that she's taking them up on their request that supporters offer their homes as host sites. She expects to receive about 40 works by Stuckist masters (including Childish and Charles Thomson) and to display them "salon style," with several on each wall.

The exhibit comes to Maitland directly from Los Angeles; its national tour is sponsored by the Central Kentucky Stuckists. Ellis says this is one of the many local outposts that have sprung up internationally as word of the movement has spread via the Internet. (There's serendipity there: Kentucky and the Web are two places where folks often find themselves stuck, stuck, stuck.)

Though Ellis would like to see Stuckism grow and prosper until it warrants "a big show in downtown Orlando," her concerns for now are both humble and practical.

"I'm hoping that everyone is going to behave themselves," she says of Saturday's event. "It's a home."

View "Pink: Stuckist Exhibition" at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Rebecca Ellis residence, 201 Spartan Drive, Maitland. Please wipe your feet before entering. And use a coaster.

Reel estate

Haxan Films -- at various times a resident of Disney property and downtown terra firma -- has now closed its Orlando office entirely. "The dream is over," sighs a source in the Haxan camp, who blames monetary woes for the decision to vacate. (The company is said to be battling Artisan Entertain-ment over outstanding royalties for its "The Blair Witch Project.") It's important to note that Haxan still exists as a business entity; only the office is defunct. Truth be told, the fiscal wisdom of retaining a full-time hometown HQ wasn't clear to every observer, especially after the "In Search Of TV" project -- Haxan's big experiment in local production -- proved a washout `The Green Room, Feb. 8`. Haxan's Eduardo Sanchez recently told E! Online that the quintet's next film, "Heart of Love," will be shot in Canada beginning in October. "We can get a lot more of our money on the screen up there, and that's the name of the game for us, you know?" he said.

An air o' Smith

If there's one phenomenon as common as the flight of Sak Comedy Lab performers to Los Angeles, it's the return-to-glory guest appearances they make on the theater's stage during their hometown visits. So why should you give extra thought to witnessing Ryan Smith revisit his old Sak stomping grounds in this weekend's Duel of Fools contests (8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 6-8) and Fool Jam laugh-offs (10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 7 and 8)? Because Smith, who made his move last spring, may well be the most talented comedian I've ever encountered. That's why.

Duty crawls

A lousy two weeks after I announced that the long-delayed film comedy "The Bros." was on track for a mid-fall debut, it's my sad duty to report that writer/ director/editing-room squatter Jonathan Figg has again moved the line of death. January is the new target date, and indie geeks know what that means: "We've set our eyes on Sundance now," Figg says. Presumptuous? Perhaps not, given his claim that he's receiving three calls a day from "major exhibitors."

Watching the hurl go by

It's not Sundance, but that won't stop a host of our area's entry-level auteurs from taking part in the Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival 2001, which begins with a Friday, Sept. 7, screening of horror and sci-fi films at the Metro Cinema Cafe & Bogarts Lounge, and continues with Saturday's all-day marathon of indies at the Henegar Center for the Arts. Among the films to be screened: Billy Holley's family drama "Clay" (shown last December at Maitland's Enzian Theater), Britt Nichols' romantic comedy "Alligator Alley" (which premiered in January 2000 at the Disney Institute), and Kevin O'Neill's AIDS-themed "The Last Game" (a Valencia Community College short that's seen the light of a projector so many times it almost deserves to be retitled "It's A Wonderful Life").

Even our brightest talents must cede genius points to Steve Herold of Wall, N.J. who contributes the Krofft-bending short "H.R. Pukenshette." (Sound it out.) In Herold's opus, a loser learns the secrets of happiness from a friendly puddle of vomit -- which sports a cute set of facial features and speaks with a French accent. If you can't wait until the festival to meet monsieur Pukenshette, watch the film at I did, and I laughed until I ... well, you know.

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