Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Kitbashed X

[On the left is Kim Adams' Artist Colony (Gardens), and on the right, Mr. X, the star of The Return of Mister X,  strolls down a street in Radiant City and contemplates the task ahead of him.] 

I’ve got a bunch of ideas that have been rattling around in my brain for a long time. They’re always around when I’m doing anything related to model building. At the core are the works of Kim Adams and Dean Motter: kitbashing and Mister X. Sometime in the 1980s we crossed paths and they’ve stuck with me ever since. I thought I’d write about them a bit now-and-then to try and sort out my thoughts. This is my first stab.

I can’t remember whether it was Adams’ or Motter’s works I came across first, but I do know they have one thing in common: Toronto’s Queen Street West in the 1980s. 
I bought my first Mister X graphic novel, The Return of Mister X, at The Silver Snail  Queen Street West store ...
[Kim Adams' Curbing Machine. Image sourced from The Canadian Design Resource]

... and saw my first Kim Adams piece in an on-street Queen West parking space. It was some odd satellite dish thing mounted on a trailer. The disc was painted and you stared deep into it. It seemed weird, and I guess maybe it was. Much later I learned it was called the Curbing Machine - it was parked by a curb, so why not :-) I laughed at it then, but not now. I’m amazed that it existed at all, and I think my laughter was some sort of recognition that I didn’t want to admit. It intrigued me, but I was too callow to appreciate it.
[Kim Adams' Dual Curbing Machine. Image sourced from ARTSask]

Even though in my mind old Queen Street West is the superficial link, I’ve come to realize they’re joined in other ways. Even though they seem to be polar opposites, to me they’re linked. Maybe it's just sentimental nostalgia, maybe there's something more.

On the one hand there's Mister X with its stylish, top-down, retro-inspired design and its story about the impact it has on the everyday life of the residents of Radiant City; and on the other there’s Kim Adams’ bottom-up, found-object-based, colourful, futuristic, scale model work and its illustration of what life could be. Vastly different, but I'm going to explore why they're linked.

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