As the grey sky turned black on Friday the 13th, the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA) steadily reached capacity. Fans of filmmaker David Lynch crowded into the gallery to commemorate PhilaMOCA’s new Eraserhead Mural, but the event, Eraserhood Forever: A Celebration of all things David Lynch, was sort of considered a semi-official ceremony that would forever dub the contextually bland “Callowhill” neighborhood as the much-preferred “Eraserhood.”
Inside the mausoleum there are no open windows, just a large white room lit up by work lights with a empty stage and whitewashed walls. Exhibition pieces include photos of said Eraserhood, a statue of The Elephant Man and surreal paintings of Henry Spencer, Laura Palmer and other characters from David Lynch’s canon. Every time someone opened the door to slide in, what was left of the daylight flooded into the room, making the place feel more like a speakeasy than an art reception.
Music from Twin Peaks added to the Lynchian ambiance, and the abundance of black t-shirts made members of the crowd seem like immiscible drops of coffee refusing to combine after dripping into the same pot. There was free Red Bull and Narragansett, although for this event, coffee and PBR might have been more suitable choices of diuretic beverages.
The first piece of hanging artwork from the door is the face of David Lynch with a quote: “I had my first thrilling thought in Philadelphia.” Lynch lived in the same bleak neighborhood as PhilaMOCA for a period of six years before moving to Los Angeles and making Eraserhead. Fear permeated Lynch’s time in the neighborhood, and he famously referred to Eraserhead as his “Philadelphia Story.”
The celebration continued into the night with local rockabilly and electronica bands, comedy acts, burlesque and an essay reading, all reminiscent of Lynch.
After leaving the show, if you were to turn right onto 12th St. and stroll into the industrial wasteland, you might find that the worn-out, broken buildings, factories and streets are a little more inspiring, if not threatening, after a few hours spent indulging in the dreamlike motifs that inescapably pervade Eraserhood Forever.
Check out some photos below and you can drop by PhilaMOCA from noon to 6pm, 7/16 to 7/24 to see the artwork in real life.