Exhibit Review | LUNA LUNA: Forgotten Fantasy

Exhibit Review | LUNA LUNA: Forgotten Fantasy Review

Ever caught yourself daydreaming about Disneyland reimagined by the best artists of our time?

Probably not, these are thoughts I have as I run errands throughout the day.  Picture this though: Disneyland, but as envisioned through the eclectic eyes of various creators. This idea found a hint of reality when BANKSY, the infamous street artist, unveiled “DISMALAND.”

It’s this hilarious twist on Disneyland, casting a satirical light on our world’s gritty truths but created to resemble Disneyland. Well, one artist, by the name of Andre Heller, decided to execute on my daydreams, creating a traveling amusement park of contemporary art from 1985 -1987. It was called, LUNA LUNA, and it was a carnival melting pot of creativity – featuring some of the most legendary artists of that time.

Unfortunately, LUNA LUNA’s magic was short-lived, fading into obscurity for over three decades.

That is, until Drake, and some online sport betting money, breathed new life into this artistic gem, bringing LUNA LUNA back from the shadows of history.

After the recent graffiti bombs that took place at the luxury apartment complex across from CRYPTO arena, I can’t think of a better place to host the revival of LUNA LUNA except for in the City of Angels and our popular art scene.

Prior to even getting into the exhibit LUNA LUNA, one will have an experience in the heart of the downtown LA Arts District. Again, this environment seems perfect to me for something extravagant like LUNA LUNA.  As I approached the exhibit for the first time, I didn’t have any initial pre-conceived ideas, but was more so curious of how Andre Heller was able to bring together the most popular artists of that time to contribute to this idea of creating a fantasy world using their art.

Upon entering LUNA LUNA, the first thing that catches your eye is this red inflatable tent with multicolor spikes and two entrance ways.

As you walk through the tent there is a blue carpet laid out and gates for each window to purchase tickets to enter the exhibit. Stepping into LUNA LUNA feels like walking into a world crafted by Disney’s own hands, almost as if you’ve been taken away into the enchanting scenes of Disney’s FANTASIA, with Mickey Mouse leading the way.

The music and sounds enveloping you in Disney World find their echoes here, weaving the same spell of fantasy and wonder. From the moment you present your tickets, a journey begins, guided by the welcoming words on the wall, “Step into the wonder of LUNA LUNA,” under a canopy of deep royal blue lights. The transition from hallway to heart of the exhibit is marked by a grand LED display, “LUNA LUNA Forgotten Fantasy,” that has information for guest to read, of its origins. The first spectacle to meet your eyes is the vibrant swing set ride and a merry-go-round of colors, brought to life by Kenny Scharf. His alien like characters and signature style dance across the swings, inviting you into his imaginative realm.

Exhibit Review | LUNA LUNA: Forgotten Fantasy Review

Just a few feet away is a timeline that narrates the saga of LUNA LUNA, from its debut years to its revival, painting a picture of its journey since 1987. The first room is more educational in the sense of storytelling the audience about the exhibit and the history LUNA LUNA as well a as stories behind each piece and how each of the featured artist came together to put together this amazing carnival for Andre Heller.

The ambiance in LUNA LUNA was settled in shadows and subdued hues, setting a dramatic stage where each artist’s ride became the focal point.

The palette leaned heavily on deeper tones—navy, forest green, crimson, and amber—casting a different mood over the entire space.

While part of me wished for brighter lights to reveal the intricate details of each artwork, I understood the choice. The dim glow aimed to recapture the carnival’s traditional outdoor setting under the night sky. This choice creates more of a mysterious feeling, as if we were stepping into an enchanted forest, with each shadow and flicker of light creating its own kind of magic.

Guest’s aren’t allowed to enter the rides, but the rides are fully operational and when the swing set turns on – it looks amazing as it spins with all the colors and iconic Kenny Scharf characters.

As you walk past the swing set to right there are installations like a fun house of mirrors designed by Salvador Dali and Roy Lichtenstein. Dali’s surrealism of imagery and characters decorates the first house of mirrors, and the second fun house of mirrors is painted in the signature technique of Ben-Day dots by Roy Lichtenstein, two of my all-time favorite artists!  Having their art in installations right next to each other – I couldn’t be happier.

In between those pieces you are presented with life size sculptures of Kenny Scharf characters. In that same room there are artifacts that have been collected and preserved from the original exhibit, the artists with their history are featured right next to a small installation of screens which is showing the guests a film on the history and creation of the exhibit.

Exhibit Review | LUNA LUNA: Forgotten Fantasy Review

After you pass by the Kenny Scharf swing set, you will see the large Ferris wheel painted with works by Jean-Michel Basquiat , sitting in the middle of the room.

Exhibit Review | LUNA LUNA: Forgotten Fantasy Review

On the front of the Ferris wheel are are different illustrations of characters and imagery, the Ferris wheel is white, and it almost looks as if Basquiat was just sketching over the iconic piece, however keeping his ideas intact he still addressing social justice issues like Jim Crow and writing quotes telling people to be confident within themselves. On the back side of the Ferris wheel, it is a painted picture of a monkey’s butt which adds humor to such a serious piece, and ties into the idea that at the end of the day this is supposed to be a carnival where people come to have fun.

As you pass into the next room, you head through a large multi-colored arch with the words LUNA LUNA at the top in giant letters with lights. After you walk through the small passageway you enter another room and in the center of that room the first thing the visitor will see isa huge installation by David Hockney and to the left of that you will see an art installation by Keith Haring, it’s his version of a merry go around ride installation painted by him but the actual seats are designed like his famous multi-colored character motif.

Exhibit Review | LUNA LUNA: Forgotten Fantasy Review

Surrounding the merry go around ride are 4 installations painted by Haring with yellow backgrounds with his signature motif print. That sections lighting dims very low and then turns off and the colors of the Keith Haring ride start to glow in the dark, which is awesome and considering this is supposed to give an enchanted magic forest vibe the glow in the dark rides are a perfect touch to adding to that atmosphere.

The team at LUNA LUNA couldn’t have been warmer or more engaging. As I was with a group of fashionably-dressed friends, at one point, a staff member sauntered over, curious about our attire, half-convinced we were some sort of celebs from the art or music scene. We laughed as we set the record straight: “we’re just enthusiastic art aficionados who know how to dress” nothing more. Moments later, we were approached by a young lady controlling a puppet, making it dance as if it was alive. Then there was the guy towering above us on 10-foot stilts, cracking jokes about his unique dancing skills. Our adventure continued as we spoke with a juggler, dressed up out like a jester straight out of a storybook, who spilled some tea about the exhibit. We couldn’t resist asking her for a quick video cameo. She then roped in a lady dressed as the moon, equally charismatic, and together, they starred in our impromptu video for content.

Reflecting on my exercise,  it’s clear that diving into the history and revival of LUNA LUNA was both enlightening and enjoyable.

Witnessing its resurgence, drawing in a new wave of art junkies and creative souls, highlighted its influence as a cultural hotspot. On a scale of one to ten, I’d gladly give it an eight. The $50 entry fee felt justified for such a good  experience. If you decide to go for the upgraded ticket, it  granted more access and even more fun, I did it, and it allowed me to dive into interactive pieces and the quirky Wedding Chapel.

It’s all in good jest, of course, where guests can have a laugh getting “married.” Mrs. Moon shared that she “officiated” several of these playful ceremonies. Though the exhibit wrapped up in Los Angeles the first week of March, it’s set to tour other states.

Drake‘s vision of fostering unity shines through in LUNA LUNA, making it a place where people come together, I highly recommend experiencing this electrifying cornucopia of creativity as it comes to a city near you!

*****

LUNA LUNA
Forgotten Fantasy
A spectacular showcase of the world’s first art amusement park—lost since 1987.
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