Long before the Independent Media Center (Indy Media) and the "Become the Media" movement that arose out of the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle there was the Worker's Film and Photo League. Here is a short excerpt from my book A People's Art History of the United States that examines their legacy:
Jaime Lowe's interview begins: "The first time I saw Whore Paint, a self proclaimed-feminist, Riff Rock/No Wave/Crooner Shred hybrid band out of Providence, RI, I was immediately 16 again and at my first Sleater-Kinney show in my busted Docs, baby barrette firmly lodged against the side of my head with a newfound hope that there’s an entire league of cool ladies who I could aspire to be like. Tulsa-raised Providence resident and woman about town, Reba Mitchell (of Made in Mexico and Assembly of Light Choir fame) commands the stage as a seasoned front woman. With expert skill, she screams, purrs, and seizes the crowd. She and the band, composed of Hilary Jones, (formerly of Arcing and Sweetthieves) on guitar and Meredith Stern of Teenage Waistband on drums, clad in their uniform of black silk slips (“we challenge the idea that sexuality and blatant femininity necessarily preclude power”) dominate and devastate the audience, leaving mouths agape, eardrums split and ideologies flexed.
Whore Paint’s name is an allusion to makeup, “an epithet used to slander women who adhere to our cultural standards of beauty. Whore Paint is what we wear in to battle,” they declare. “Whore Paint is who we are as a band.” The whole interview can be read here.
This week is the final in a series of posts about mini-East German poster books (see HERE and HERE). This week's book, Plakate zum Ersten Mai (Posters for May Day) was quite literaly one of the last gasps of the DDR, published in November 1989, after the Berlin Wall had already started coming down. The book is about an inch wider and taller than the other two, but is still considerably smaller than most other books—about half the size of a mass market paperback. It's also put out by a different publisher, Verlag Tribüne Berlin. It also has an ISBN number!
I'm unsure of the history, but Tribüne Berlin was the name of the main political/expressionist theatre in Berlin beginning in 1920, and was a popular hang out for Dadaists like George Grösz and John Heartfield. It's possible that this little book was produced by the publishing wing of the theatre. Unlike the other books, this one is only in German, so it's a bit harder to suss out.
Our comrades at the Beehive Collective have completed their latest epic design and are looking for some help printing it. Please support their kickstarter!
After 9 years of production, our fantastically intricate and inspiring hand-illustrated mega-poster is ready for the print house!
Over the past thirteen years we've researched, drawn, and re-drawn the story of corporate-driven globalization in the Americas, starting with posters about the Free Trade Area of the Americas and Plan Colombia. In 2004 we embarked on the initial research trip for the third poster in this trilogy, traveling from Mexico to Panama over 5 months to meet with people on the frontlines of resistance to a regional development plan then known as Plan Puebla Panama. The industrial-scale infrastructure projects of the plan (now renamed Project Mesoamerica) are what literally pave the way for the free trade model that devastates local economies. Our intensive grassroots research and collaborative design process continued for several years. After the pencil work was complete, inking the final drawings took several more years, with rotating teams of illustrators and studios in multiple locations.
If you are in Milwaukee come by the last Art Vs. Craft ever. We will be tabling with a giant load of Justseeds gear!
Everything on Justseeds is now 15% off with a purchase of $25 or more. Sale runs through December 13th.
For years we've been talking about making blank/ruled/graphed notebooks with Justseeds art on the cover, and now we've finally done it! We've teamed up once again with Eberhardt Press (who print our amazing Organizers every year!) to produce six different blank books, in three different sizes. This first batch will have artwork from Jesus Barraza, Melanie Cervantes, Molly Fair, Fernando Marti, Roger Peet, Meredith Stern, and Bec Young. If these sell well, we'll roll out more, with new designs and paper combinations. Keep your eyes out for these to go up on the site in the next week or so!
Melanie and Jesus hosted an amazing and insightful event at SoleSpace in Oakland earlier this month- here are some photos and the text of the show description.
El Día de los Muertos is usually a time to look back and give thanks to our ancestors whose existence made it possible for us to be alive today. With Future Ancestors: A Ceremony of Memory we look at the present and give thanks and celebrate the individuals whose life work is contributing to a world we will leave behind for future generations while investigating what was handed down by their ancestors and continues to shape who they are today.
Through conversations with five people we reflect on lessons and objects held sacred that haven been passed down to them. We will meditate on how these inheritances shape and inspire these individuals to look at the world around them and concern themselves with the task of building a better world.
This weeks book is the second in a series of mini-poster publication produced in the DDR, or former East Germany. Last week we looked at a book about posters celebrating the Russian Revolution (see HERE). This week I've got another book that is the exact same size, and also comes in a nice little box (see to the right). The box implies the book is titled Politische Plakate de Arbeiterklasse (Political Poster of the Working Class), but the book itself is titled Politische Plakate: Eine Auswahl 1888-1978 (Political Posters: A Selection). The box cover is much funkier and more experimental than last week. At first it looks like a maroon and white spray can on a red background, but on second examination I see that the image is one of those large public pole/bulletin boards that are still popular in some European cities. The books title becomes just one of four posters visible on the pole, the others referencing Marx, the Soviet Union, and poster art in the DDR.
A key environmental and Native rights struggle is currently taking place in northern Wisconsin. The Walker Administration has re-opened Wisconsin to mining interests making the proposed Penokee Mine a disaster in the making. It would be a 4-5 mile long open-pit iron mine in the Penokee Hills that would devastate the local ecology and the water. Resistance has come from many - most notably the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa.
The blog series in which I ask members of Justseeds to make a list of five things that have been inspiring them as of late. This time we get a list from Colin Matthes of Wisconsin:
Chris Stain grew up writing graffiti in his hometown of Baltimore, and kept at it in spite of a handful of arrests and close encounters with law enforcement—the first was at the tender age of 11, when a classmate ratted him out to the police for tagging a playground, and the most recent was last year when he was caught writing on a box car with an erasable marker. His work overwhelmingly focuses on representing the experiences of ‘common people,’ as he calls them—members of the working class who struggle on a daily basis to simply survive and pay their bills. It’s an interest that stems from an adolescent exposure to 80s punk, Woody Guthrie, and his own emerging class consciousness. Currently based out of East Brooklyn, Stain is now an art teacher, showing kids how to do lettering and stenciling themselves. He joined us to talk about the politics of representation and the joys of writing on walls.read more at OBEY
Here is another Justseeds studio visit, in which I ask coop members to describe their current studio and to talk about their ideal workspace. This time with we visit Meredith Stern in Providence, RI:
Here is a short excerpt from Chapter 15 from my new book A People's Art History of the United States. This chapter examines the role of the Artists' Union during the 1930s.
“Art has turned militant. It forms unions, carries banners, sits down uninvited, and gets under-foot. Social justice is its battle cry!” —Mabel Dwight, WPA-FAP printmaker
Prior to the start of the WPA-FAP, the Artists’ Union in New York City was already a well- developed organization, and by the end of 1934 it had upward of seven hundred members. Meetings were held every Wednesday night, and attendance often fluctuated between two and three hundred people; crisis meetings would draw upward of six hundred.
Dia da Consciência Negra, or Black Awareness Day, is celebrated on this day every year in Brazil. The date of the holiday was selected to honor Zumbi dos Palmares for his life as a freedom fighter. Zumbi was the last leader of the Quilombos, escaped former slaves who formed settlements of thousands of people, hounded ruthlessly by the wealthy land-owning Portugese. Considered the patron saint of the fighting art, Capoeria, Zumbi was a brilliant strategist who outwitted the well-armed troops for many years, in an attempt to maintain the freedom of his people.
Zumbi was a Firebrand! This illustration for Firebrands: Portraits from the Americas is by Roger Peet, also a brilliant strategist. Do you know of a Firebrand, living or historical, you think should be mentioned? Leave a comment!
Today is the official launch of the newest "WorldWord" short video series. This is a collaboration between Becky Stark, Peter Glantz, and Kevin Hooyman. This series premiered on the relaunch of "Liquid TV" which can be watched here.
To purchase the poster that corresponds to this video click this link.
On a grim and drippy morning earlier this week I sat in my house reading an article about slave capitalism in the magazine n+1, specifically a review of Walter Johnson's new book River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom, published earlier this year by Harvard. The author, Gabriel Winant, compares Johnson's analysis of the slave economy with an opposing take, written in the 70's by theorist Eugene Genovese, and points to the way he sees each view as arising from the specific historical moment in which it was written.
When I first traveled to Berlin back in 2007, doing research for Signal with Alec Dunn, we spent a lot of time haunting bookstores. Being a book junkie, there's little as exciting as walking into a bookstore in a new country where all the books are unrecognizable. It's intoxicating, getting hit with the rush of thousands of new titles and covers. Given Germany's history, being split in two until twenty or so years ago, used bookstores are stocked with gems from not one country, but two—one of which was communist (at least in name) and had a very different design sense than the West.
At one book store I found a little book—and I do mean little—collecting posters and graphics from around the world celebrating the Russian Revolution. On future trips I found two more similar books—mini collections of political posters and artwork—printed in the GDR in the 1980s, presumably to sit on counters of bookstores there, just like little design books collecting Indian matchbook covers or sushi made into animal faces confront us at the registers of bookstores across the US.
Jesse Purcell and myself will be reppin' Justseeds at Expozine this weekend, two days of zines, prints, and indie publishing goodness. This is my favorite zine fair, it's really holistically about radical weird and beautiful underground culture. This year Justseeds is co-sponsoring the event, and we'll be on the floor against and on the wall with heaps of fresh and favorite prints, animal hankies, and the 2014 organizers. Come say hi!!
Saturday & Sunday November 16-17
more info: http://expozine.ca/
Welcome back to Sounds of the Week, the weekly sound musings by members of Justseeds. This week Alec Icky Dunn lets us know what he's been listening to, and Pete chimes in as usual.
I'm excited and honored to be doing a special project as part of Philadelphia Mural Arts' 30 year anniversary exhibition, "Beyond the Paint," at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art Museum. The show opens this Friday, Nov. 15th. I'm producing a series of Dada-esque community broadsides for my part, which will be printed in the gallery throughout the length of the exhibition. More info HERE.
Justseeds member Meredith Stern plays music with Hilary Jones and Rebecca Mitchell in a feminist band called "Whore Paint" and today is their video release of the song "This Body" which was filmed, directed, and edited by Peter Glantz.
Here is a short excerpt from my book A People's Art History of the United States and the first installment of blog entries that highlight specific chapters. For this entry I start towards the end of the book: the first half of the second-to-last chapter that focuses on the creative resistance of IVAW (Iraq Veterans Against the War.)
This chapter looks at Operation First Casualty and then segues to the Combat Paper Project. I highlight IVAW first because of the relationship that Justseeds has built up with IVAW over the past five years. For starters, I first learned about the creative resistance of IVAW from a blog post on Justseeds by Josh MacPhee that spurred my interest in their work. I then met IVAW Midwest team leader Aaron Hughes in Chicago through a mutual friend Michael Rakowitz. This led me to me interviewing Aaron for a publication/zine by the art collective Temporary Services called "Temporary Conversations." It also led to a long series of collaborations between Justseeds and IVAW. First, Justseeds and IVAW did a street art action in Chicago together in 2010. Next, we helped produce a booklet for them through Printed Matter, and then we did a portfolio project (our third portfolio) with IVAW called "War is Trauma." Since then we have designed street signs and a large-run of silkscreen posters.
To me the Justseeds collaboration with IVAW embodies what the coop does best: it places art directly within movements. And below - the short excerpt from my book - embodies the spirit of IVAW: war resisters and some of the most creative artists and activists working today.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 6, 2013 - San Francisco, California
New Ad Campaign Explains Drones to Skeptical American Public
The California Department of Corrections (CDC) has unveiled a new series of advertisements to defend America's drone policy amidst mounting public scrutiny from lawmakers and human rights groups.
On Election Day, November 5, 2013 the CDC successfully apprehended, rehabilitated and discharged over a dozen bus shelter advertisements in San Francisco, including the intersection of Market and 7th Street, one block from the Federal Building.
Set against a black background, the ads feature a smartphone which has photographed a Predator drone strike in progress. On the smartphone screen a missile streaks away from the drone and crosses a cloudless blue sky. Just above the image, a new logo - PAKISTAN - imitates the original brand name, and a headline for the ad reads, THE NEXT BIG WAR IS ALREADY HERE.
Over the past two years I've been stumbling across old, early paperbacks published in the 1930s by Modern Age Books in New York. They seem like a lefty publisher in some ways—all the books are union printed, much of their non-fiction is outright socialist, or at least leaning in that direction—but also published things way outside the normal left loop. Their list is a mix of paperback editions of popular crime fiction (Agatha Christie, etc.), what are now "classics" (Steinbeck, Saroyan), literature in translation (Ignazio Silone, Andre Gide), cookbooks, cooky science texts, and the aforementioned leftist history and contemporary affairs books. They had a set of imprints, including "Blue Seal Books" which were all 25¢, "Gold Seal Books" which were titles more expensive that a quarter, "Red Seal Books" for inexpensive reproductions of literature, and "New Modern Age Books." The first three are marks with images of a seal in their respective colors, and the New Modern Age feature three seals in an oval. The books were able to be sold so cheaply by being produced in huge editions (by today's standards), between 50,000 and 100,000 copies per print run.
Amazing!, the blog series in which I ask members of Justseeds to make a list of five things that have been inspiring them as of late. This time we get a list from Erik Ruin of Providence, RI.
I was so busy setting up and locally promoting this show that I missed putting it on our blog before the opening! If you're in Toronto, you have one more day to catch this exhibit exploring both queer animals, and queer humans' relationship to animals and animal iconography.
Alexis Boyle, Gustavo Cerquera Benjumea, Humboldt Magnussen, Michael Rennick, Danielle Nicole Smith, Corinne Teed, and Mary Tremonte
While you're there you can pick up one of these special edition bandanas, a collaboration between curator Humboldt Magnussen and myself.
187 Augusta Ave (Kensington Market)
Open Sunday 12:00-5:00 pm
Thanks to the overwhelming interest in Nicolas' new book, A People's Art History of the United States, we ran out of stock in the Justseeds webstore last night. Don't fret, we have additional copies now available!
Please support your friendly Artists' powered Cooperative and not Amazon, by purchasing it here.
Learn more about the book from Nicolas' recent blog post.
Check out the following Cannonball Press promo vid for Prints Gone Wild
Go to Facebook, share and invite your friends, family and pets!
This year I put a ridiculous amount of time and energy into making a solar powered remote control car demolition derby (Green Mini Demo Derby). From asking numerous businesses if they would consider sponsoring a solar powered remote control car demolition derby, to building a mobile solar power station, to learning about remote control cars, retrofitting them so they are able to efficiently destroy each other, and spending countless hours painting corporate logos on cars and uniforms, it was a long, often confusing, process. I was nervous and excited (mainly terrified) for the first event, hoping the cars got charged efficiently, ran well, broke well, and that the event would be exciting.
Welcome back to Sounds of the Week, the weekly sound musings by members of Justseeds. This week Lou Reed, Songs:Ohia/Jason Molina.
Eight years of research and writing has led to my first book -A People's Art History of the United States: 250 Years of Activist Art and Artists Working in Social Justice Movements - being released today. The book is part of the People's History series that was initiated by Howard Zinn through The New Press - a non-profit press in New York City that has a long-standing reputation of publishing books on contemporary social issues.
My study on a people's history looks at US art history and specifically activist art. Not social practices. Not the "political art" found in galleries and museums. Rather, it focuses on movement culture and the activist art that emerges out of social justice and economic justice movements. My aim was to research the past from the conquest of the Americas to the present, and to look at the role of activist art in various movements, be it the early labor struggles, the women's suffrage movement, the IWW, the artist's unions during the 1930s, the art created inside the Japanese American internment camps, the photography of the Civil Rights movement, the street art employed in anti-nuclear movements, and numerous other examples.
You are invited to the first in what will hopefully become a monthly gathering of people who think about political design and image making. We are artists, activists, organizers, and designers, with the goal creating visuals to inspire radical action and support social movements.
131 8th St., Brooklyn 11215, in Gowanus,
(2 blocks from F/G/R trains at 4th Ave./9th St.)
We are excited to gather together creative energies and to explore new possibilities for creating visuals that will help us imagine and demand the world we want to see. Feel free to bring examples of your own work or work you think is awesome.