Steampunk made a comeback in Douglas with an opening art reception held at the Art Gallery on 10th Street on Saturday, Jan. 5.

This month’s exhibit is a community favorite featuring the iconic and original works of multiple steampunk “makers” hailing from southern Arizona.

Steampunk is a visual genre inspired by 1880s subculture of science fiction, which emerged in the late 1970s. The style weaves modern technology and the Victorian era.

Industry enthusiasts Paul Martell, John Floyd, Peter Valentine, and Jeff McDaniel curated an exhibit of custom costumes, weapons and artifacts from their personal collections. 

This year’s show was themed Mythical Creatures and the Heroes who Hunt Them.

During a presentation made by the makers they described the creative freedom the genre allows.

“There are a lot of avenues to the genre,” said Paul Martell. “…No one should ever be able to tell you what your steampunk is. One of the things I love about steampunk is that most people who do it will never downplay what your version of it is.”

The reception was well attended, with many young audience members who are interested in the genre and slowly becoming hobbyists themselves. The audience learned about the simple ways one can create steampunk gear. Many of the high-tech gadgets on display at the gallery were sourced from household items like toilet paper tubes, Nerf guns and metal hardware.

The makers are preparing for the annual Wild Wild West Con, scheduled for March in Tucson. ‘Steampunkers’ from around the country will attend, many in character, with interactive displays, contests and fellowship.

The steampunk exhibit will be featured at the gallery through February.

In addition to the reception, the Douglas Art Association presented a check donation to Gemma German’s Folklorico dance students of Paul Huber Middle School.

“We know that you guys make your own costumes, and everything that entails; the fabric and sewing, costs a lot,” said Association President, Elizabeth Morales. “We appreciate everything that you do, and the dancers. Everyone loves them.”

The Art Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information about upcoming events or volunteer opportunities, call (520) 364-6410.

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