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Not Your Middle School Haunted House

It was a dark and stormy night at the art gallery.


Justin Tiesl

(1 of 4)

Laine Justice

(2 of 4)

Brett McCormack

(3 of 4)

Kal Spelletich

(4 of 4)


Forgo the corn maze—this year’s go-to spook fest is at an art gallery. Jules Maeght Gallery presents Into the Woods, an exhibit exploring the darker (and unsettling, grim, and alarming) side of nature, complete with tree robots, taloned mobiles, and nightmare-inducing composite animals. Consider it equal parts high art and haunted house. Here’s just a taste of the strange and frightening display. Oct.15, 2015–Jan. 30, 2016.

Poison trees
“I used the most unnatural materials to depict nature,” explains local painter Justin Tiesl of his epoxy-resin and acrylic tree paintings. “I like that dissonance.” Some of the trees were modeled on those in Tiesl’s native Milwaukee; others on specimens from our very own Golden Gate Park.

Things that go bump
Healdsburg oil painter Laine Justice filled 20- to 60-foot-long scrolls with ominous composite animals. “Some of them are more complex, and some of them are easy to see,” she says. “But they’re in all different scales, and they kind of melt into each other, so for me, it’s a puzzle.”

Decay and disarray from above
New York sculptor Brett McCormack created intricate paper mobiles depicting bird talons, decaying bark, and uprooted trees to suspend from above, making you feel like you got lost in the woods. “I really want to transport people,” he says.

Straight out of Snow White
Remember that scene from Snow White that gave you evil-tree nightmares as a kid? San Francisco installation artist Kal Spelletich has brought it to life. “Monterey pines from San Francisco,” says Spelletich, “have been turned into robots.” The effect is of terrifying branches reaching out to grab you. In other words, nightmare becomes reality.


Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco

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