Curtis Eller, Sepia-Tone Americana. Cristina Beller brings some Steampunk to Horrorbles

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By Prof. Joseph F. Mason

The Uncommon Curtis Eller

I had the pleasure of attending the Curtis Eller show at Uncommon Ground last Thursday.  The first thing to strike me was that this energetic man reminded me of somebody, initially I thought it might be Jim Carrey, but Carrey is too hammy and rubber-faced.  It was then that it hit me – Curtis Eller – with the combination of his Basil Fawlty moustache and loose. Ministry of Silly Walks limbs  – reminded me of John Cleese.

An Eller show is not to be missed.  The musician kicked, wriggled, shimmied and even climbed on tables (and then drank your beer.)  He called the audience out when we didn’t sing along loud enough and chastised us when we weren’t whispering along quietly enough.  He was not once without motion.  Even his right thumb found a way to always drop on the banjo’s 5th string.

He closed the show with “Save Me Joe Louis,” a look at American race, religion and law.  The powerful song represents  the last biting words of the first man executed in the gas chamber, a cry for salvation from a boxing champ.

Afterwards I picked up his album “Wirewalkers & Assassins” and spoke with him briefly. He wondered why he always seemed to get a steampunk or two at his shows and we eventually settled on it being a mutual love between he and the steampunk community of all things antique and sepia-toned.

Curtis Eller – Save_Me_Joe_Louis

Steampunk & Victorian Assemblage Show with Cristina Beller

It was Friday May 21st and my lovely partner in crime, Liz, asked John, the proprietor of Horrorbles Gallery in Berwyn; “Where’s the art opening?”  He gracious directed us to a stairway, past some monster figures, horror movie t-shirts and bags and eventually down into a dungeon-esque basement where we were immediately greeted by life-size replicas of Leatherface and Jason (of Friday the 13th Fame of course!)  After making our way past a miniature theatre with a screen show-casing immortal Peter Cushing we finally reached the dark, lovely art of Cristina Beller.

Strange, elongated ladies adorned the walls, all sharing the same, dispassionate gaze.  Did they even notice you?  Why would they need to when each and every one lived in their own, florid, self-contained world?  After gazing at any number of her delirious works, I had finally decided on the piece I wanted, but ALAS!  It had already been sold!

Still, there were plenty of treasures to be had at thoroughly reasonable prices.  Browing through a printer’s box full of Beller’s rings, necklaces and other such wearables, I found a medicine bottle pin for $5.  Liz bought a watch gear ring, a wee poison bottle charm and an absinthe necklace.  What finery had become us!

Returning upstairs, I picked up a t-shirt for WFLD’s old horror show Creature Feature and a violent movie barf bag.  Proprietor John clued us on the news of a steampunk/horror themed cafe was that was presently underway down the street.  So do stay tuned for further excitement!

Until next time dear travelers of the aether!

-Prof. J.F. Mason

Professor Joseph Mason would prefer that you think of him as an archivist instead of a collector as it has more cache.  He plays with firecrackers, toy guns, electronics and the theremin (in various combination thereof) in the Chicago steampunk band The White City Rippers.

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