Beast master 

Max Ogan — or Maximus, as he likes to be called — is surrounded by giant monsters and giant robots in his Plaza District studio, Bomb Shelter, but he’s not running for cover or summoning twin fairies for help.

It’s all part of his latest exhibition, Machines vs. Monsters: Final Wars, his tribute to kaiju, the distinctly Japanese science-fiction genre best-known for such atomic-age creatures as Godzilla and Gamera, and superheroes like Ultraman and Jet Jaguar.

“This is the third show of kaiju and robot art that I’ve done,” Maximus said. “Because it’s based on Japanese cinema, I’ve kind of posed them like how they’d be in the movies. Machines vs. Monsters is about bringing the two previous shows together, doing battle with each other.”

Final Wars will be a one-night only affair, Friday at Film Row’s Oddfab Design Lab, 703 W. Sheridan. Maximus considers it the culmination of a lifetime’s worth of highly influential horror, sci-fi and cult-movie fandom.

“When I was a kid, I would always watch the Godzilla films, and I loved the old Universal horrors, like Frankenstein. It was what led me into these Japanese things,” he said.

One piece in the exhibition Maximus is most proud of is Eastworld, Where Nothing Can Go Wrong, a Far East riff of Michael Crichton’s 1973 techno-thriller film, Westworld.

“That was the idea behind the theme park gone awry,” Maximus said, “but really, it was inspired by the Japanese word haikyo, meaning ‘abandoned places,’ so the people have run away and instead of a battle between monsters and machines, it’s really more like the coalescing of the two together, because nothing is left. It gives the robot something to do.”

While creating such works, he thinks about what would happen if the scenarios actually took place. Surprisingly, he’s putting his money on the machines.

“The machines would have the advantage, because they can’t really die, per se,” he said. “But the monsters, because they are giant mutants, they also have an edge with their strength. The monsters against the people
have the edge, but against the machines, the machines definitely have
the edge.”

It’s this type of “what if?” excitement that Maximus believes will provide patrons of Machines vs. Monsters something unique.

“It’s a chance to look at something that is fun,” he said, “and not so much about fine art, but more about having a good time and being in an atmosphere unlike any other that they can immerse themselves in and maybe be inspired by.”

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Louis Fowler

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