Monday, August 30, 2021

"Beyond the Pleasuredome: The Lost Occult World of Burt Shonberg" curated by BRIAN CHIDESTER at the BUCKLAND MUSEUM OF WITCHCRAFT AND MAGICK, Cleveland Ohio AUGUST 17 - NOVEMBER 1 2021

The exhibition opens August 17 and continues through November 1, 2021. The exhibition is curated by historian, documentarian, and longtime Shonberg advocate Brian Chidester. It is accompanied by a catalog, the first ever exclusively devoted to Shonberg's art, with essay also by Chidester, an introduction by Minneapolis Institute of Art curator Robert Cozzolino, a director’s foreword by Steven Intermill of the Buckland, and contributions by Shonberg friend Marshall Berle, screenwriter/former Shonberg roommate Hampton Fancher, and esteemed filmmaker Roger Corman. 

 Further details can be found at the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick website. 

Additional information and imagery can be found at Burt

"Burt’s work had a mystical, mysterious quality. It was perfect for capturing the evil inherent in the faces of the Usher family ancestors. I provided Burt with character histories and let his imagination roam free. In his depiction of Vivien Usher, a murderess who died in a madhouse, Burt painted a terrifying image of a woman with blacked out eyes in a haunting color scheme reminiscent of Picasso’s blue period. For Bernard Usher, a jewel thief and drug addict, Burt painted a portrait that seemed to mimic an element of double exposure photography but in a fiery psychedelic red that seemed to burn through the canvas like a Turner on acid. Burt Shonberg captured the tormented spirits of the Usher family, as well as the spirit of the entire film, perfectly. Together, we came up with one of the most unique and memorable uses of painting as a storytelling device in film: a manifestation of the subconscious malevolence lurking within Roderick Usher. A few years later, I was lucky to work with Burt again on a subsequent Poe picture, The Premature Burial. Like many other artists in Southern California in the 1960s, crossing paths with Burt Shonberg altered my artistic consciousness. He was a one of a kind visionary, and my collaboration with him remains one of my most treasured experiences." Roger Corman, July 2021 

 Burt Shonberg - 01Burt Shonberg, Vincent Price, Roger Corman circa 1960 

 Burt Shonberg - 02Vincent Price and Mark Damon with Burt Shonberg paintings in "The House of Usher" 1960 

Burt Shonberg - 03Frankenstein's Monster playing the Saxophone. 1957 

Burt Shonberg - 04Mars the God of War 1961 

Burt Shonberg - 05The Sphinx, probably a portrait of Majorie Cameron. circa 1958 - 1961 

 Burt Shonberg - 06Bride of Frankenstein circa 1957-58 

Burt Shonberg - 07Title Unknown,Sphinx, possibly another portrait of Marjorie Cameron 

Burt Shonberg - 08Title Unknown The Hermetic Sphinx 1960 

Burt Shonberg - 09exterior of Cafe Frankenstein, Laguna Beach circa 1960 

Burt Shonberg - 11Detail of interior of Cafe Frankenstein, Laguna Beach, California, circa 1958 

Burt Shonberg - 12"Sin Consummations Devoutly to be wished" 1962 Commissioned by Roger Corman for the film "The Premature Burial", whereabouts unknown. 


Drawings Made For Gamma Magazine Vol 1 No 2 1963

 Burt Shonberg - 13 Burt Shonberg - 14 Burt Shonberg - 15 Burt Shonberg - 16 Burt Shonberg - 17 Burt Shonberg - 18"Magical Landscape (Lucifer in the Garden) 1961 


"What does it look like or mean when an artist strives to show their audience the feel and look of expanded consciousness, another world they have seen and been absorbed into? is it even possible with the material tools of paint? Shonberg attempted just that, and the results transport the viewer, rhyme with the work of mediums and those who practiced astral projection, are at home in parallel dimensions to be visited in trips. He came close to presenting what that feels like with the modest tools at hand. And isn’t that what we want of artists? To collaborate with us to shift consciousness and to transport us out of the mundane reality that we face here and now? There is the suggestion in these new worlds that we have the power to change what we know is toxic on ours. " 

 Robert Cozzolino 

 Patrick and Aimee Butler Curator of Paintings 

Minneapolis Institute of Art 


“Burt Shonberg was more than just an artist, he was a “prospector of consciousness” who travelled to areas outside of our collective awareness and painted what he saw during those excursions” 

- Marshall Berle,former manager of Spirit and Van Halen Director and producer of “Out Here: A film About Burt Shonberg” 

"Shonberg was too strange for even the '60s California sci-fi world, and too far removed from the fine art establishment, to be embraced by either. Even today, when radical viewpoints are commonplace in the art world, Shonberg has yet to receive recognition. Meanwhile, a unique body of work remains hidden in plain sight." 

- Brian Chidester, exhibition curator 


This article, event details and all images were provided by Stephen Romano of  the Stephen Romano Gallery.


Stephen Romano said...
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Stephen Romano said...

THANK YOU to Aeron Alfrey and MonsterBrains for this magnificent feature on Burt Shonberg! It is very much appreciated and thank you so much or being a part of perpetuating Burt's integrity where it belongs - in the forefront!