It has been called “funny and philosophical” by NPR’s Meredith Ochs. It has been utilized in the unique documentary William Shatner in Concert. College professors lecture regarding its lyrics and music to teach students about social issues. It was the focus of dance performed by the Milwaukee Ballet. Now, the William Shatner and Ben Folds musical collaboration of Has Been is the starting inspiration for an art exhibit featuring 76 talented illustrators and artists who represent the entire Shatner experience on canvas and other palettes. Has Been is now art in more than the musical variety.
Janine Vangool and Glen Dresser are a husband and wife team who this summer present The Shatner Show, both a book and art exhibit, at their Uppercase Gallery in Calgary. Known for its unique art gallery, books, and paper goods, Uppercase has featured previous exhibits regarding Posteriffic and The Robot Show.
While most fans of William Shatner glean their appreciation from a certain 1960s science fiction program Glen “wasn’t really aware of Shatner as a personality until Tekwar. Tekwar was very heavily-promoted on Canadian TV, and a big deal was made about Shatner as the creator of the series.” Janine states that she has “always been aware of the man called Shatner. He’s a part of Canadiana.”
While driving across Canada last summer, Glen and Janine listened to Has Been, being fans of the music of Ben Folds. In fact, they listened to it quite often. “It was in this repetition that I really began to appreciate Shatner’s personality as well as his long career. Especially his fearlessness in taking creative risks,” according to Janine. One of the most praised songs on the album is “It Hasn’t Happened Yet.” The song reveals the ennui of Shatner as a man unsatisfied by his success. Both Glen and Janine discuss this song as a favorite. Glen calls the song “a profound statement of discontent with his achievements, despite the fact that his achievements are so many. The discontent is a part of the person, and you get the sense that no amount of fame or success would change that.”
These serious, yet fun, themes of Has Been inspired the idea of The Shatner Show, which starts June 15, 2007 to the end of August at the Uppercase Gallery. All 76 art works will be on display at the gallery or online, and will be available for sale with a 128 page hardcover book. The book features full color presentations of all the Shatner images, an introduction written by Glen, Shatner quotes, and artist commentary. What may be the crowning jewel of the exhibit is the 9,000 LEGOs that make up a Shatner bust by Sean Kenney. 180 hours of work went into this unique Shatner art.
The number of artists was inspired by Shatner’s age. “We intentionally selected artists from a wide range of styles, and encouraged the artists to explore all aspects of his life and career. Naturally, Star Trek is a recurring theme in many pieces, but many of the works delve into his personal life. Some artists have found little offbeat anecdotes about him that they’ve chosen to capture, some reference his French-Canadian heritage, some depict his less-well-known film and television appearances. And several celebrate his now legendary Rocketman performance” says Glen. Shatner supported the ballet version of Has Been and appears to have the same sense of appreciation for the art gallery’s presentation of his career. Shatner wrote a statement of endorsement which Glen calls “classic Shatner, erudite with a touch of ego and a touch of self deprecation.” Shatner writes:
Every artist has their muse. Leonardo was inspired by the ceiling in the great chapel. Michelangelo found his art in the Italian marble. Who am I to stand in the way of all these fine artists and artisans who want to use my lumpy, aging face for inspiration? Some creators love a great sunset; some have in mind my bloodshot eyes. Nevertheless, out of awe, amusement, or pity, you should come and see this unique show.
For more information regarding the art exhibit Shatnerites HAVE BEEN waiting for, please visit theshatnershow.com
The Shanter Show – The Book