For many years, visitors to the Allentown Art Festival could find Craig LaRotonda's dark, otherworldly paintings and illustrations amid the pastel paintings and blown-glass lawn ornaments that are the festival's stock-in-trade.
That ended in 2012, when his work was removed from the festival for featuring nudity.
Now, fans of the Buffalo-based artist who has built a large international following will be able to see his work alongside that of many other under-sung artists from Buffalo and around the country in LaRotonda's newly opened Revolution Gallery at 1419 Hertel Ave.
The gallery, which LaRotonda opened with his wife and fellow artist Maria Pabico LaRotonda, is the result of a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $17,000. It also fulfills LaRotonda's dream of creating a local market for pop surrealism, a popular genre of dark, disturbing and sometimes grotesque art that has not yet found a toehold in Buffalo.
"I actually show my artwork lots of other places other than Buffalo," he said. "I wanted to start showing here and there weren't a lot of opportunities for it. I felt that Buffalo had a taste of what was happening elsewhere."
The Revolution Gallery inaugural exhibition, "Inception," features 16 artists and runs through Jan. 2, 2017. The LaRotondas have applied for a beer and wine license and expect to serve visitors during openings and other events. The gallery is open Thursdays from noon to 6 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m.