CityBeat caught up with Celeste Byers this past summer when she and artist pal Jonny Alexander created an extra-planetary landscape on the side of M-Theory Music in Mission Hills. At the time, Byers wasn’t sure if she’d stick around or hit the road in her “cave,” a trailer that she converted into a trippy mobile-home-slash-sculpture with stalagmites drooping from the roof, stalactites jutting out from its walls and shag carpet for a comforting touch.
The surrealist’s recurring aesthetic is an outerspace twist on nature scenes, like in her coral sculpture “Life on Life,” which is something you’d expect to see during a psychedelic snorkeling trip. Beady-eyed barnacles and magic mushrooms appear to be growing outward, with swirling, underwater patterns painted on the coral. Frogs, insects and magical-looking mushrooms don’t live in the ocean, but in Byers’ world, they do.
Byers also has screen-printed T-shirts, tanks and sweatshirts bearing her wild designs for sale at Gregg’s, as well as original paintings and illustrations that she’s had published.
Toward the end of 2011, Byers had six of her drawings printed in the foodie-cult quarterly journal Lucky Peach that famed restaurateur David Chang is behind, along with regular contributor Anthony Bourdain. The inspiration for the series, Byers revealed in her interview with the publication, was human disorder and disease, but applied to plants and vegetables. The most hilarious—and disturbing—are peeled-back, inflamed bananas penetrating overripe, gushing wedges of cantaloupe. That original is for sale, too, although it would probably look best hanging somewhere away from the kitchen.