“That’s My Childhood Coming Out of Me”

The next Yoshitomo Nara is living in Boca Raton. But she’s a pixie-faced girl with a tiny, high-pitched voice. Helena Garcia paints the world as we want to see it: a brightly colored cartoon playground where plants, animals, and snacks are all personified and given their proper storylines. She’s displayed her paintings in local record shops, like Miami’s Sweat, illustrated album art for bands all over the world, and fashioned merchandise ranging from coasters to wallets for online shopping meccas like myfavoritemirror.com and the gotta-have-it billfold company, Tiny Meat. Sometimes in her single-frame tales, pandas and birds will happily gnaw on the limbs of a cartoon carcass while above, a cheery little girl in a tree assures her crush that “they’re just playing” as she innocently nibbles on an ice cream cone, her pink-striped tube socks dangling.

It’s this juxtaposition of cavity-inflicting sweet with fiendishly adorable savory that has made Garcia’s artwork irresistible to collectors. It’s the marketability of the images that might soon break Garcia into the upper echelon of trademarked goods, like stationery sets, T-shirts, and assorted pick-me-ups. After all, who could possibly resist her protagonist girls in maryjanes and the rosy-cheeked animals who keep them company? The infectious dreaminess of her images – as deceivingly simple as they may first appear – launches all who see them into a world where waterfalls flow with Neapolitan ice cream, cupcakes are eaten with chopsticks, and pet bunnies are surprise guitar prodigies. If this is Helena’s world, I vote we move there at once. Helena Garcia’s one-woman show opens tonight at Pink Ghost (21 W. Las Olas Blvd., Suite B, Fort Lauderdale). She’s pressing T-shirts and buttons as well taking her brush to the canvas for tonight’s show, so expect to find something that you can’t live without at 8 p.m. tonight. Call 954-616-1304, or visit www.pinkghost.net. Visit Helena at www.helenagarcia.com.

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Jamie Laughlin