Nothing Cheezy is not the Museum of Pizza. While the new installation at Think Tank Gallery does offer pizza-inspired environments to explore and photograph, it eschews the sweet, pink Museum of Ice Cream look in favor of DIY art and greasy 1990s teenage dirtbag vibes.
Think Tank developed the project in conjunction with Pizzaboyzzz, Meow Wolf’s Future Fantasy Delight by Nico Salazar, and other friends and collaborators including Cheap Slasher Films, Nina Palomba, Berk Visual, and balloon artist Balloonski. Oh, and there’s a giant Godzilla-like monster destroying a Little Tokyo made of pizza boxes. And mini golf. And actual pizza from local restaurants.
Rooms in the gallery were turned over to 12 different artists, who each bring their own take on the throwback theme. One corridor features a towering construction of pre-flat-screen-era televisions, flickering with loops of chopped up ’90s animation, advertisements, and test sequences. A faux teen “bedroom” by Meow Wolf’s Future Fantasy Delight includes a functional retro video game console set up on the floor, doodles on the walls, and a pile of used pizza boxes heaped in the corner. In each space, the nostalgia is palpable.
Below the fun, colorful surface, Nothing Cheezy also has something to say about the trend of “immersive experiences” that have boomed in recent years. Think Tank gallery even claims to have hosted one of the first, a cake-themed art show called Break Bread, before the concept caught the attention of corporate marketers and entrepreneurs capitalizing on a generation’s collective anxiety about producing content. Throughout what Nothing Cheezy calls a “self-aware selfie tour,” the lighting is harsh and strange, the art feels raw and handmade, and there are even moments, like Isa Beniston’s interactive installation, which are designed intentionally to create genuine–and unphotographable–surprise.
Nothing Cheezy runs through August 25 at Think Tank Gallery, 516 E. 4th St., downtown. Tickets are released each week on the show’s website.