Michael Jackson giant soda can portrait sold to Ripley’s

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The huge Michael Jackson portrait that Sunland artist Seaton Brown created from 1,680 empty soda cans, calling it “A Tribute to the King of Pop,” has reached its logical destination.

Brown tells Culture Monster that he recently sold the 144-square-foot work (pictured above with the artist) to Ripley Entertainment, which operates a chain of 31 Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museums in 10 countries, including the one in Hollywood.

Brown says the work fetched a not-quite-kingly $7,500 -- enough, however, to cover the $1,000 he spent on raw materials (including about $600 worth of soda pop that he poured down the drain) and earn him a decent wage for the five solid weeks he spent creating it about a year and a half ago.

Edward Meyer, in charge of exhibits and archives for Ripley, which is based in Orlando, said Tuesday that plans call for installing ‘A Tribute to the King of Pop’ in the Hollywood museum in November; after a five-year stay, it would move to another Ripley’s Believe It or Not! venue. ‘A piece of this size becomes a significant gallery centerpiece for us, wherever it gets displayed,’ Meyer said by email. The tribute in tin fits the museum chain’s aim of collecting Michael Jackson artifacts that fall into the ‘odd, unusual, and unbelievable’ niche Ripley commands, Meyer said. ‘We love things made from things the average person throws away.’


Brown, meanwhile, continues to aim for that artistic sweet spot. He’s opening a show Saturday at the Sherman McNulty Gallery in West Hollywood, and the centerpiece is “Eye Candy,” a 6-by-6-foot portrait of Pamela Anderson made from more than 1,000 candy wrappers and some of the treats they contained (especially Tootsie Rolls), with a few crushed soda cans in the mix. It’s pictured here in not-yet-finished form.

Brown, who came to L.A. from Minnesota about 10 years ago and earns his living primarily as a commercial artist, reports that although he’s ‘not a candy eater,’ and threw out 90% of the sweets, ‘I had moments of weakness, I have to admit.’

Also in the show is a self-portrait Brown made from 3,000 to 5,000 assorted puzzle pieces as an homage to Chuck Close, whose pointillistic self-portraits inspired “A Tribute to the King of Pop.” Brown also is showing traditional oil paintings –- still lifes and a plein-air canvas that the artist says he painted a few months ago on Santa Monica Beach while sleet was falling, capturing one of nature’s Believe It or Not! moments.


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Freakish things are on the way, believe it or not

-- Mike Boehm