Smile Politely

I survived The Bazaar of the Doomed, and so can you

There’s this great moment in one of the old Paul Ernst Doctor Satan stories from Weird Tales magazine where the nefarious villain’s lair is finally revealed. Following a pair of brackish mutants, the reader is led down into the mouth of an open grave only to emerge inside an underground tomb that has been fashioned into a strange fortress full of beakers, coiled electrical things, manacled monsters, and cages filled with strange twisted unpleasant-looking creatures. In the center of the room, a blue flame burns; and standing over the dancing ethereal fire is Doctor Satan, the macabre figure draped in red, sporting a pair of horns on the top of his head. Heading into The Bazaar of the Doomed, I had that image stuck in my head. So maybe, just maybe, I was coming in with some high expectations for this exhibit of sci-fi & horror artwork currently running at Indi Go.

OK, so it didn’t have the monsters in cages… or the giant Tesla coils… or even an innocent-looking damsel strapped to a operating table with a buzz saw just inches away from her dimpled chin. But it did have some nice art, so I suppose I won’t complain. Also, the event is for charity, so I’ll doubly forgive them for not having an octopus pit.

Lack of octopus pit aside, The Bazaar of the Doomed does live up to its title with some very interesting and very odd pieces. The artwork, unconnected by any set theme (save for the nebulous genres of Science Fiction and Horror), runs the gamut. There’s some horror, some science fiction, and some pieces of art that are just plain weird (in the good way). The pieces seemed like something culled together by William Castle or maybe William Gaines. It’s a little Tales from the Crypt and a little Rocky Horror.

A quick run-though of the show follows:

You step into The Bazaar (which is really just an art gallery, but for the sake of this article, I’ll keep calling it The Bazaar, with an impressive & ominous capital “B”); there, on the first floor, a few pieces are tacked onto the white brick walls.

Lining the back wall you’ll find Warren Bensken’s Rotten Gato, a print featuring the skeletal remains of a cat happily peddling along on a penny-farthing bicycle while giddily holding a few handfuls of fireworks and a bottle. This hangs next to a piece by Ghosts and Yetis titled Dastardly, which shows off the fiendish portrait of a villainous-looking figure clinching a blood-red vile between his teeth.

On the far wall just across from that, a small ornament of fabric hangs, cross-stitched from human hair. (I assume it’s human. I can’t remember if the piece mentions this or not, but let’s just assume it does, because it makes it far more strange and unsettling.) Beyond that, on the opposite side of the room, an untitled piece by Ed Polzin shows off a set of four skulls illuminated in weird green light, perforated by ghostly mist and looking something like the aftermath of a freshly opened Ark of the Covenant.

In the basement, three small alcoves house a series of works that refashion some old LP sleeves into new pieces of art. The figures on the covers are reimagined as clowns and humanoid cats with the aid of nail polish and whiteout. It is as disturbing — and, honestly, somewhat charming — as it sounds. 

Back up the staircase lurks a display of ginchy, tacky, campy, pieces stuck to the wall. Really Good Hair Club, by Sophie McMahon, seemed, to me at least, like it was something stolen straight from the walls of John Waters’ home in Baltimore. (Which, again, is a complement.) Another piece by McMahon (possibly my favorite piece of the whole show) depicts the Creature from Black Lagoon standing in an intimate pose next to a lovely blonde. A more touching and tender tribute to a great Universal Monster I cannot think of.

And of course I’m skimming over a few pieces which are well worth anyone’s time, including: a severed bionic arm, accompanied by a story of its discovery; a heroic portrait of an astronaut ape; and even an appearance by some legends of sci-fi films of yesteryear. All in all, the whole show resembles a high school art fair with some very disturbing sensibilities (presumably at a secondary school for the criminally insane). However simple the presentation, it kept my attention and allowed me the opportunity to seriously revel in some serious oddity.

Since this event is for a good cause (with half of the proceeds going to CHASA—The Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association), I humbly suggest that we hype the hell out of this exhibit. Promote some local art; support some local artists. It might just be a few pieces of neat-looking artwork, but isn’t that what you see at any gallery, ultimately? Plus, with a title like The Bazaar of the Doomed, I think we as a community can do a bit of good and drag some bodies into this show. All you have to do, after viewing The Bazaar, is whip out your preferred social media device, and say something like…

I certainly didn’t expect them to have an actual gorilla chained up in the basement. Cruelty free! Swear to god!


Interesting. I wouldn’t have assumed they could fit an entire guillotine inside such a small space. But they were really creative. And that was sure a lot of beheading for one art show.


I went to The Bazaar of the Doomed with <insert name of friend> and it was actually pretty cool. <Friend> didn’t seem too impressed, but that’s probably because <he/she> accidentally fell into this howling pit of despair and was then ripped limb-from-limb by this Cthulhulian monster. I assume, if <he/she> hadn’t been disemboweled by Shub-Niggurath, <he/she> probably would have given the show a more glowing review.

Whatever means you employ, go see this thing and encourage others to do the same. When they get there, they might be a little let down that there’s no gorilla, but then there’s still the great artwork! See what local artists can do, buy some cool art, or maybe just make a donation to a good cause.

It’s just a suggestion.

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