Any self-respecting fan of Napoleon Dynamite knows that the titular hero isn't the only one with skills. Napoleon's brother, Kip Dynamite -- and his real-life counterpart, actor Aaron Ruell -- have some serious skills, too. A longtime director, Ruell has two short films, a slew of TV commercials and even the opening-credits footage for Napoleon under his belt. He's also an accomplished photographer, something local artist Jacob Calle discovered when creating his new show, "The Golden Ghost Awards," opening this week at Commerce Street Artists Warehouse.
The show features artists Calle has dubbed the Golden Ghosts; he sees them as a "dream team." The lineup includes James Templeton's inspired clay sculptures; Rene Cruz's five-foot-tall, papier-mâché woolly mammoth; Adam Cruces's skeleton paintings; Calle's animal- and dinosaur-themed mixed-media collages; and photography by Bryan Schutmaat, Scott Windes and, of course, Ruell. Ruell's "Hotel Roberts" series, which seems straight out of a Napoleon set, features ugly green couches and old mattresses.
"I'm a big fan of everybody's and knew them all personally except Aaron," says Calle. "I was just messin' around on the Internet one day and found Aaron's site. I was blown away by his photography and e-mailed him and said, 'Hey, I'm doing an art show and I'd love for you to be part of it.' He e-mailed me back really quick and said, 'Sure.' I think my friends were more shocked than I was."
Calle is especially pleased with Ruell's offerings -- not to mention the publicity he brings. Ruell says he's cool with being the draw -- even if fans want to see Kip, not Aaron. "Jacob extended a nice invitation, and I accepted. I never really thought of the fan side of it," he says. "Sometimes the recognition does get old, but I'm proud of that little movie and what it's done. And I have to play the 'I'm Kip' card to get me anywhere."