Balloon Dart Show with Matt Cella

Artwork by Matthew Cella

This last Sunday I spent the sunny afternoon in Oakland at the Royal Nonesuch Gallery at 4231 Telegraph Ave. I went to see the latest exhibition by Matt Cella as part of the 21 Projects x 21 Days x 21 Hours. The premise as I understand it is that there are twenty-one projects to be done by twenty-one artists and each will show for one hour. This last Sunday was Matt’s turn.

So how did a cartoonist get invited to such an event? Beside the fact that Matt is one of my friends, Matt had asked about 15-16 other artists to contribute art work as part of the prizes of a carnival style game to played in the gallery. Yours truly was asked to contribute and I did. My contribution was an original cartoon. The prizes ranged from paintings, shirts, used dog toys to drawings on scrap paper, and digital art.

The game was a dart game. Matt had covered the wall with black balloons. Some filled with Tempra paint and some were filled with glitter and confetti along with a corresponding number of the piece of art which you won if you could pop the balloon with a dart. Matt wore his best carnival costume which was a mullet wig, trucker hat, and fake cigarette. The rest of his costume was a track jacket and jeans. Matt would then holler out insults to the crowd spurring anger and daring people to try his game of chance.

“A sucker for a sucker.” Matt would yell out after you lost and he would hand you a kids lolly pop. “Is that all the money you got?”

Each sucker that tried the game had to pay Matt $5 which went to the gallery. (There were refreshments, hot dogs and cookies too that you could get with a suggested donation of $3.) Once paid Matt handed you 3 darts along with taunting and jeering from on lookers. Once a balloon was popped by one of the darts either an explosion of paint would splatter every where and the crowd would cheer, followed by more mocking from Matt on your lack of skill or a celebration of glitter and happiness would burst out of the balloon with a winning song.  But even in victory the Matt Cella insults always brought you down to earth just like a true carny.

I dropped $15 on trying to win some art. As it turns out my skill of picking the winning balloons are equally matched to my skill at throwing darts at big round targets. I didn’t anything. Not from my own money anyway. Like every scam, I should have known that they would eventually lower the price in order to get more people to step up. The price got down to $1 per dart in the last 10 minutes of the hour. Of course I had spent the last of my money on beer and hot dog donation. I resorted to borrowing a dollar from another artist Rob (who had won pieces of art.). On my first throw with darts from Rob’s money, I hit a winning balloon! I won Rob’s t-shirts!

It was a great afternoon. I failed to catch the name of the woman who won my cartoon but she seemed excited. I was happy to be a part of the show. Check out Royal Nonesuch Gallery and check out Matt Cella’s art Matthew Cella.

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