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On Saturday, Sept. 24, friends, colleagues and admirers were on hand for the opening of Creature Features’ Miles Teves: The Art of Darkness art exhibit in Burbank, Calif. The gallery featured two-dimensional and three-dimensional art pieces designed and/or created by Teves over a nearly 30-year career working primarily in science fiction, fantasy and horror.
Within two medium-sized rooms, Teves’ illustrations were handsomely framed and situated around sculptures of some of his best-known characters, including Darkness, the devilish red character with curved black horns from Legend; Meg Mucklebones, the swamp-dwelling green witch from the same film; and various lavish dragons from different projects. Another standout was a stunning illustration of Tom Cruise’s Lestat from Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles and a sculpture of said character in his most deteriorated stage. In the Lestat illustration, most of which was rendered in black and white, Teves added a flick of iris color which prominently stands out in the piece.
Attendee Brian Wade, whose first film credit is John Carpenter’s The Thing, pointed to the underlying reasons behind Teves’ successes. “Having a good imagination and aesthetic sensibility. You have to be a chameleon—learn the aesthetic of wherever you are working and cater to their sensibilities.”
Lennie MacDonald, also in attendance, sensed a union amongst other designers including Teves, Matt Rose and Steve Wang. “They are so talented and really great to work with. They still enjoy it like the day they started.”
During the opening, Christopher Nelson noted his camaraderie with Teves. “We all have a common interest and thread in the love of this art, and the love of this genre, and the love of movies,” he said. “We all do know each other and respect each other. Occasionally, I bop in and out of shops to prep a show—there’s so many great artists in those shops who go unknown and unsung that contribute most of what everybody loves about these movies.”
Teves himself recalled his earliest inspirations as a youth in Salinas, Calif. “It starts with dinosaurs,” he divulged, specifically noting the early paintings by Charles Knight and the iconic mural by Rudolph Zallinger. “Then you discover Godzilla, and then all the rest of the pantheon of pop culture things that we love so much. I was always sculpting something, building something, drawing something, painting: color, black and white, pencil.”
In his journey working for various make-up studios and shop owners—including Rob Bottin, Stan Winston Studio and Cannom Creations—Teves has had to change his approach. “Every shop has its own dynamic, dramatically different,” he said. “Some people, you have to take the reins; some of them know what they want and need you to help execute it.”
In addition to working for make-up studios, Teves is employed in other capacities such as working for the art departments on films. He also toils on his own personal art projects. “I do it with what little energy is left over between these other films,” he said. “I don’t do enough of my own stuff.”
Creature Features founder Taylor White described the Teves gallery event as the first of many such planned exhibits. “He seemed like an ideal choice to kick this off,” he said. “His stamp on make-up effects is beyond extraordinary. His designs are beyond perfection. They are iconic, and I love the fact that Miles keeps the old school alive—he still works with a pen and pencil. When you look at this artwork, the old ways are still the best ways.”