Seven dollars for two full-length films and an artist showcase at Daytona Beach’s Cinematique Theater was a bargain hard to ignore. Looking out the window of the Thai restaurant next door, we spotted a young man sitting outside of the theater indulging in a book as the doors to the cinematique were getting ready to open. Someone whispered that this was “typical”. We cross the lane and enter into the eighteen year old independent theater stepping directly into the cafe. The scent of popcorn filled the air while beers were chilling behind manager Lexi Ayers as she distributed wristbands. The Cinematique of Daytona Beach is an arts organization that surpasses film by hosting comedy nights, live musicians, and on March 10th 2019: the Creecher Double Feature Art Showcase.
The lobby was filled with artists. To the left, Garrett Gardner, lean and dark, was sprawled over a table concentrated on his sketching with brand new prints in crispy envelopes laying on the table in front of him. Behind Garrett there were easels propped up hosting paintings by artist Thiang Uk. Thiang’s work is a study of space and figure where anatomical forms morph into one another and into the background. The work is molecular up close, but the image is clear once the viewer takes a step back and sees the winding roads, landscapes, and bodies that make up the work. To the right were glass objects manipulated by David Turish who blows glass into smooth pipes and pendants. He shares his space with sculptor Sara Taylor. Together they comprise the creative platform Whimsical Wonders Art. Upon stepping through the black doors to the theater the viewer would have seen spotlighted photographs by Brittany Fournier.
Walking through the dark gallery the viewer was invited into the middle of the floor where glass cases held skulls, fetal specimens, and oversized femurs. This was the work of artist Sarah Beagan, pyrographer. She burns intricate designs and painted patterns into her specimens. She describes her work as “a colorful nod to that eternal resting place.” Circling around the gallery toward the exit, you would have found yourself facing AWG INC., a graphic designer based out of Orlando, Fl. I was intrigued by the printed prose they pasted on the gallery wall. It was difficult to find the time and headspace in a buzzing theater with dim lights to read such a lengthy piece. They said it was designed as a test of patience. I pulled up a chair.
The piece was perfect. I was certain they were a Humidbeing partner. They had never heard of the magazine, yet the work embodies exactly the image of one of us humid beings beaten down by the unforgiving fists of the Floridian side of the sun. AWG INC. designs apparel, logos, and event flyers. AWG INC. actually designed the flyer for this evening featuring films Toad Road and Hell House, The Creecher Double Feature. AWG INC.’s background in logo and flier design shone through in the simple but impactful decision made in typography. The printed text looked like it was printed from a typewriter which gave the installation a raw feel and metallic taste. The story is from the point of view of someone, we all feel we know very well, living off high fruits for a while but finding themselves in a forceful fall from the top. The protagonist becomes trapped in a loop, waking up repeatedly in a disheveled urgency. The writer describes the installation,“Nuits de Dégoulinantes a la Plage de Assassiner is a haunted house story, independent of structure, observed—coldly—through the Skinemax lens. The installation itself was a test of audience patience, masquerading as a tribute to the Ghost of MTV’s Spring Breaks Past.”
The writing was accompanied by more AWG INC. prints. One was an image of a beautiful sunset, but the sun is a screaming lady. One was a beach scene from a bird’s eye view, but there is a slash in the sand that resembles a slash into flesh. The spirit of eternal, devastating Spring Break was alive in these prints, and they were well crafted too. From their hand-bound portfolio I learn that through flyer design AWG has promoted Gillian Carter, Full of Hell, and C.H.E.W.; all staples in the music scene that pumps through central florida. You are sure to have seen at least one or more of these bands at the Tir Na Nog, Atlantic Sounds, or an intimate Orlando bar.
Mike Creech took the stage as the program began. His salutations to the audience were passionate and eager as he shared his delight in presenting us with these films. He shared that this will be an annual occurrence. The audience was thanked with raffle tickets and encouraged to stay throughout the duration of both films. With that being said, we began the first feature. The first film played was TOAD ROAD directed by Jason Banker and produced by Random Bench.
Toad Road is based on a legend of a mysterious path in the forest that leads to Hell. Can you guess the play on words there? We’ve all heard of licking the toad. This movie is about a good girl who met a bad boy and then she has a crazy trip and fell into a spiritual quest that led to an obsessive psychedelic melodrama leading straight to Hell.
The film is a representation of the clash between reality and the delusions we convince ourselves of. The movie takes the viewer through humorous parties, desperate and heartbreaking doses of despair, an intriguing glimpse into a gruesome existence at the end of the path, and finally ends with a mystery to ponder.
The film faded out, and we all took our respective breaks smoking cigarettes and refilling our glasses. We had a chance to reconvene out in front of the theater. There was a general buzz of excitement, we were all happy for each other and happy about the projects that are taking off and happy to be finally utilizing our resources. We sipped champagne and encourage each other to collaborate. “Are you still making those action figures? Well you should.” “Did you hear who is back in town? She’s making films now, she wants to perform with Crust Girls.” “Atlantic Sounds is opening their back room for shows again.”
We were summoned back to the cinema.
Hell House, produced by Stephen Cognetti, is a fictional recording made out to be a documentary of true events. The idea is a haunted house that is actually haunted. The point of view is from the private cameras of the crew creating the haunted house. Their recordings are of the perplexing days leading up to the mysterious incident in the basement of the abandoned Inn. I couldn’t help comparing the team leader of the crew to the fraudster Billy McFarland from the FYRE festival incident. The house was clearly haunted, but he kept pushing to move forward with the project, which led to an excellent and entertaining climax.
If you missed the program, you ought to take the time to seek out these impressive artists and films online and don’t deprive yourself by missing the next event curated by Mike Creech. You may even win an Elizabethan dictionary by local writer Phil Trimarchi or your very own AWG INC. poster.