Downtown Art

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January 24, 2005 // UPDATED 1:51 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

Buffmonster's disinfectant

Last week I got food poisoning. It was gross. I believe the culprit was a half-sized prepackaged sandwich that had probably been sitting out for hours. Where did all of the preservatives go? All I really know is, I had no idea that I could produce such inhospitable noises/blasts. While I pored over the bathroom sink, my apartment was transformed. It was just like being on the movie set for the production of a horror film for which I provided the sound effects (I was also the star). As if possessed, I totally lost autonomy over my throat, which contorted like a Slinky. It sounded like I was giving birth to an alien or at least some kind of mythic beast, in the form of pea-green liquid that I later learned was bile.

The hyper-green-gold-colored splash looked a lot like Buffmonster's playground. So then, who is Buffmonster and why would he/she wade in a cesspool? And what does that have to do with a horror film? More important, how could I cough up a Buffmonster? OK, fine, I admit it - I didn't really spit out Buffmonster. And the cartoonish fiend with "X"s for eyes probably wouldn't be detected swimming in my sink. Buffmonster also has practically nothing to do with horror movies, that I know of (gulp).

But Buffmonster does give the impression that he/she's been choked out with a runny liquid, which is sometimes a green-gold hue that bears uncanny resemblance to my bile. Don't get me wrong, though. Buffmonster would take that green-gold bile (and probably my sink, too) and de-contextualize the whole experience - he/she would make it an aesthetically pleasing one, with someone like Paris Hilton posed in front of it. Can you "see" it? Paris poised before a tainted "food poison wall after prepackaged sandwich."

Meantime, the Buffmonster sticks its tongue out as if to say, you'll never guess what was here before. Like Buffmonster's name suggests, it polishes up the ugly truth. That's some kind of disaster relief. The iconic outlaw/beauty monger flourishes on detritus like found spray cans, wood panels, metal sheets or canvas. Buffmonster is graffiti about graffiti, with signs posted on street lamps that read, "The Buffmonster says, don't do graffiti." According to Buffmonster's secret creator, "The monster takes old rusty metal and splatters it with layers of fluorescent and metallic paint. From the candy-coated surfaces, oozing landscapes emerge."

Tu-Sa Jan. 25-29; Tuesday-Friday 4-8 p.m.; Saturday 1-5 p.m. Ox-Op Gallery, 1111 Washington Ave. S. Free. 259-0085, www.ox-op.com

The triumph of Trumbo

Brian Dennehy portrays screenwriter and novelist Dalton Trumbo in "Trumbo," the story of one of the notorious Hollywood 10; a blacklisted group of screenwriters and directors deemed disloyal by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947.

Trumbo, whose name now cues up movie titles such as "Spartacus," "Roman Holiday" and "Exodus" - plus the classic antiwar novel, "Johnny Got His Gun" - had already achieved legendary status by the time of his imprisonment. But when he got out of prison a year later, his name had been crossed off every employers' list in Hollywood. All the while, the tenacious Trumbo continued to correspond with friends and family (and some ex-friends, too).

Trumbo's stubbornness kept him afloat. Congress and Hollywood weren't his only adversaries. Some people to whom he'd been close also misunderstood his plight and were suspicious, too. Through it all, Trumbo survived and maintained a sense of humor. The entertaining letters he left behind are well composed; his personal diatribes, jokes and discussions are sharp, satirical, articulate and funny.

Using his father's letters, Trumbo's son Christopher stitched together a sensitive portrait of the screenwriter who left prison without any money in his pocket, plenty to be bitter about and lots to say. This tale is about how a plucky "criminal" finds success - even in the face of public paranoia. Years later, Trumbo wrote "Spartacus" and "Exodus" after prying open Hollywood's closed shutters.

Tu-Su Jan 25-30; Tuesday-Friday, 8 p.m., Saturday 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m. & 7 p.m. Pantages Theater, 710 Hennepin Ave. S. $32-$45. 651-989-5151, www.hennepintheaterdistrict.com.