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Stranger Things Fandom Gets Expressive with the Upside Down Art Show

by Jenn Hopkins

If you haven’t already seen the dynamite phenomenon sweeping the pop culture landscape that is Stranger Things on Netflix, worry not. At a scant eight episodes, you can binge-watch it on your day off, or break it down into four digestible two-hour sittings, or even the crawling pace of one episode a day. But we’re pretty sure you’ll want to binge it.

This show perfectly evokes the 1980s, and if you didn’t know it was a modern production, you would likely never realize it. Marrying hints of The Goonies, a splash of E.T., and a dash of The X-Files, it has most viewers on the edge of their seats. While the show’s focus is on four boys and one very interesting little girl, it touches on a variety of genres that is sure to pique anyone’s curiosity. For those viewers with creativity in their veins, the show has inspired a flood of fan art finding its way to Downtown Tucson.

One of Toole Avenue's art and toy galleries has run with the idea of hosting a month-long art show devoted to Stranger Things. Xpanded Universe, in conjunction with Studio One, has put out the call for artists to submit to the Upside Down Art Show. The public response has so far been amazing. “It’s become an international show; we have a couple pieces coming from Switzerland as well as out-of-state, like Florida, Maine, Albuquerque, California, and New York,” said Mike Olivares, owner of Xpanded Universe and founder of Tucson Comic Convention. What was originally going to be a local show has gotten national attention.

Taking place on Halloween weekend, over a thousand people have expressed interest on the Facebook event page, over two hundred have confirmed. Expect a Stranger Things costume contest with a $100 prize for the winner, and yes, the costumes must be related to the show. Local chef Jose Zavala of the Bittersweet Show will be catering the opening with chicken and waffles, so get ready for a feast for both the eyes and the belly!

Besides amazing art, the Amazing Discoveries game store staff will be on site for an introduction to Dungeons and Dragons where you can create a character and learn the base mechanics of the game. “It was something that struck a chord with me,” Olivares said, “I played D&D basically at that age the kids are playing it in the show. I remember the room and the atmosphere or garage, it really took me back.” It’s a sentiment shared by thousands, whether you’re a child of the 80s or just a fan of that era.

Aside from art, a print signed by Mark Steger (the man inside the Demogorgon) will be available at the show, as well as a limited-edition-run zine featuring Eleven by local mixed media artist, screen printer, and muralist Danny Martin.

Are You Interested In Submitting Art?

  • All art forms are welcome, October 15th is the deadline for submissions to the show. Send submissions to:

  • Art pieces must be ready to be displayed or hung.

  • If your art is purchased the opening night of the show, there is no commission taken. If it is sold after the first night, a commission of 15-20% will be taken.

Attending the Show?

  • Location: Xpanded Universe & Studio One, 197 E. Toole Ave.

  • When: October 29th from 7-10 pm, opening reception.

  • The Upside Down Art Show will be on display from October 29th through November 26th.

  • Admission is FREE.

  • Any art purchased during the show will remain at the show for the duration of its run. Buyers will be notified when their piece is ready for pickup.