Pub-Inspired Art by Brandon Opalka
by brett sokol
Brandon Opalka working on his “Janigan’s” installation.
“Bring plenty of wet naps,” is Brandon Opalka’s advice to those visiting his new “Janigan’s” exhibition at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood. He’s not entirely joking. Though the Miami-based artist is best known for his paintings—including an eye-popping mural that covered one nearly block-wide exterior wall of Wynwood’s Dorsch Gallery, which represents him—Opalka’s latest work is a fully immersive installation.
The end result sees the Art and Culture Center transformed into a homey spin on the South Florida sports-themed pub chain Flanigan’s, with the spot being rechristened in honor of Opalka’s own mother, Janice. But this is no send-up of commercial culinary culture or athletics-tinged socializing. Opalka is dead serious about people having an anything-but-serious time. Indeed, re-creating the same warmly inviting atmosphere he recalls from childhood trips to Flanigan’s at his mother’s side is half his goal.
The other half involves flexing his own creative muscles: “I’m so much more fascinated by playing with all these different elements than in just going back to my studio and putting oil on canvas.” Expect customized Janigan’s furniture, faux-memorabilia, and even freshly shot videos on a TV above the bar. In fact, Opalka’s biggest dilemma was trying to obtain a temporary food and beverage license, as well as convincing the Art and Culture Center’s security staff that it’s okay to let lovesick couples carve each other’s names into Janigan’s wooden tables. “Janigan’s” runs through April 14 at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, 1650 Harrison St., Hollywood, 954-921-3274
photography by gary james
Cover shoot: Behind the scenes with Pitbull for the October 2014 issue of Ocean Drive magazine.