You know how the story goes: Three unemployed actor friends struggle to find work, are invited to reprise their roles as banditos in a Mexican town, and, after a whole lot of sombrero-wearing, singing, and slapstick shenanigans, realize that this isn’t acting — it’s the real deal. We’re talking about Three Amigos, the classic comedy starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short.
This Friday, three Charleston artists are paying tribute to the flick in an exhibition celebrating the grand opening of Local, the new café that took over Muddy Waters’ former West Ashley space. The Three Amigos Ride Again, For the First Time Art Show features works by Meta Sapient, Proton Factories, and Badjon (a.k.a. City Paper contributor Jonathon Stout), a trio of gritty artists operating in different mediums. The exhibition will highlight their respective works, and demonstrate how their disparate styles complement each other, creating a buddy story of their own.
“Our art is an entity — it’s bigger together than it is by itself,” Stout says. While Stout’s rugged and grungy photographs oftentimes depict some sort of decay, Meta Sapient’s paintings are heavily structured, yet frenzied. On the other hand, Proton Factories is a graffiti artist whose figures and characters have a very street-art vibe to them. “If you look at Meta’s stuff, you’ll notice it looks like chaos. My work has a look of controlled chaos,” Stout says. “Proton’s got the fine, clean lines, meticulous stuff. But it all comes together in one big thing.”
The amigos have been working together for some time. “We’ve been collaborating a lot together in the past,” Stout says. “We did the Bill Murray backdrop at the City Paper Best of Charleston party together this year. We’re really influenced by each other. Each one of us has a certain part of art that we’re really devoted to, and we pushed it together as much as we could.”
Local approached Stout — known for hosting the popular Presents from Punks party in December — with the idea of putting on an exhibition in conjunction with the opening of the café. The trio opted to make their art affordable and accessible to the masses at Local, with no individual piece selling for more than $300.
The opening night celebration will feature plenty of food, including chocolate from Johnny Battles’ Sweeteeth Chocolates. “I really like his stuff. It’s different from having cheese and wine,” Stout says. “He’s making specific chocolates for the event, and there will be bonbon samples and original candy bars. The chocolate is influenced by us — he picked our brains for flavors we liked.” It will also include Charleston’s posse of food trucks, including Pot Kettle Black, Geechee Island Mobile Kitchen, Roti Rolls, Diggity Doughnuts, and Happy Camper Snoballs.
Stout hopes that the new venue will attract a different sort of crowd to the opening. “The art scene can be real cliquey,” he says. “It would be good to see a lot of new people out there, and it would be great for new people to see the space.”