Arts and Culture

Bogeyman Art Show blends image and story in a spooky exhibit

"You say boogie, I say bogey," says Eric Matelski, in response to questions about the pronunciation of the 'bogeyman' element of the Bogeyman Group Art Show now up at MacSpa. Inspired by the fact that his family treated Halloween like Christmas in his youth, and in honor of Denver's multi-cultural heritage, Matelski has produced his third edition of this show -- a display complete with ten artists' renditions of the multi-form spook of their youth. And each visual piece is coupled with a short, written story.

See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Artist and Westword Artopia star Eric Matelski

"Some [artists] are nervous," says Matelski of the transition from the artists' usual medium -- be it doll-making, painting, drawing -- to writing. "It's easier for people to come up with spooky or dark art than to have a story to go with it."

So he lets the artists -- including Kyle Banister, Jesse & Cori Buchholz, Patrick Gerace, Corrina Espinosa) -- do whichever comes easier first, then work at their own pace on the harder of the two. "Sometimes folks are intimidated by it," he adds. "Most times, though, they just have fun."

Before slasher films and Disney cartoons, stories like these of the bogeymen were used to keep kids in line, prevent their running off into the forest and doing naughty things.

Grab one of the free booklets of creepy stories at the special "Afraid of the Dark" reception that runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 19 -- just before the Denver Zombie Crawl -- at the MacSpa. We've snagged a few of those stories along with their paired images to offer this sneak preview:

"Luster," by Jesse Buchholz

I could say with confidence that when I was a young child, there wasn't much concern over a "monster under the bed/closet" or sounds in the basement/attic. What triggered my fears the most were actually my best fiends during the day - my stuffed animals. Whenever light from the moon or streetlamps came in through my window at night, it would fall upon my toys in such a way that I could swear they were staring directly at me. If I stared back at the stuffed animals long enough, my mind would play tricks and cause me to believe they were moving ever so slightly. I actually got in the habit of facing the toys away from myself before going to bed, or putting them away entirely. This "staring" sensation would always seem to intensify after waking from a creepy or disturbing dream, as if my toys were waiting to continue the nightmare. To me, this is the true form of bogeymen - shadowy figures hiding in the dark, who use just the right amount of light to transform ordinary, harmless objects into a focal point of horror. These objects can also be something as simple as: a jacket on a peg, a hat on a coat rack, a floor lamp, a decoration on the wall, or anything that could be disguised in the right lighting.
"Bubak," by Eric Matelski
Bubak or hastrman (Bugbear, scarecrow, respectively) is the Czech boogeyman; he is like Torbalan in being a man with a sack who takes children. He also, however, takes adults, and is known for hiding by riverbanks and making a sound like a lost baby, in order to lure the unwary. He weaves on nights of the full moon, making clothes for his stolen souls, and has a cart drawn by cats. In some regions of Poland, like Silesia or Great Poland, children are mock threatened with bebok (babok, bobok).
"Energy of the Dead," by Chris Schranck
At my art studio I have three rooms. One is mine and the other two I rent to other artist. The smallest of the rooms, which is the one I am always trying to rent, has a closet door that opens on it's own. When it dose things happen; lights shutter, things fall off the counter, and all kinds of noises happen from soft to loud.

I do art work at night, so one night I come into the studio to paint. I turn on the lights, I look into the small room as I pass to go to my room, the closet door is closed. Then all of a sudden I feel a very negative, evil energy that seems to surround me. I see a flash. Out from no where a cabinet door slams into my head, knocking me so hard, that my feet fly from under neigh me and sending me across the floor. I land in front of the small room. I look up from my daze to see the closet door is open.

That closet door now remains locked, I still paint as I always have, but with a new found respect.

The Bogeyman show will be up through November 2 at the MacSpa, 1738 Wynkoop Street.

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Eric Westerlind