Hi friends of Justseeds, we are super excited to announce a new project here at Justseeds: the Print of the Month Club. Purchase a membership and get 12 months of radical art delivered straight to your door.
For a couple weeks in November, I hammered out a four by eight foot version of my "Teach History From Below" print (from our Liberating Learning Portfolio) for the Sidewall project here in Pittsburgh. Sidewall is basically a giant frame on the side of a residence in the Bloomfield neighborhood, right on a high-traffic street. Artists paint "murals" on stock 4x8' sheets of plywood, and the paintings switch anew every month. It's a great use of private housing space for public art, and you can find out more about the project here. I've posted some process photos below...
Here is another studio visit, in which I ask Justseeds members to describe their current studio and to talk about their ideal workspace. This time with Shaun Slifer from Pittsburgh:
A quick week, only one cover today. I recently found this amazing copy of Isaac Babel's play Benia Krik. The design is attributed to "Lloyd," the book published by Collet's in London in 1935. The tri-color scheme of rust, grey blue, and black is great and the tall sans serif titles command attention. Without prior knowledge, it's hard to clearly read the illustration as notice that this is a book about Jewish gangsters, although that might have been more obvious 80 years ago. Anyway, enjoy this gem!
Winter Tangerine Review (WTR), a literary and arts organization, is curating a special feature called Hands Up Don't Shoot that will explore what it means to be black in America. The concept for the feature, part of WTR’s Spotlight Series, stemmed from the realization that unchecked police brutality and institutionalized racism in America allows for the unjust murder of black citizens, defying the claim that this country is “postracial”.
The injustice of Michael Brown's death, along with the deaths of hundreds of other black
children who were killed for the color of their skin, has been tragically normalized in our society.
However, the riots and protests taking place all over the world, reflect a demand for change.
Hands Up Don’t Shoot will exclusively feature AfricanAmericans creating art out of this
The feature will be guest edited by the following critically acclaimed writers and artists: Danez Smith, Alysia Harris, Kameelah Rasheed, Patrick Earl Hammie, Khadijah Queen, Randi Butler,Kiese Laymon, Sam Vernon, Cameron Awkward-Rich, and Fahamu Pecou.
Submissions of poetry, prose, and visual art will be accepted free of charge from December 10, 2014 to January 10, 2015. Hands Up Don't Shoot will be released on February 5, 2015, in honor of Trayvon Martin's birthday, on the Winter Tangerine website at www.wintertangerine.com.
Gratitude. Impeach as a new online shop with some of his artwork, you can check it out HERE.
This week we swing from left to far right, Africa to Belmont, Massachusetts. Sorry for the whiplash. The Americanist Library is a collection of almost 20 mass market paperbacks put out by Western Islands, the publishing wing of the extreme right-wing John Birch Society. Chronicling the book covers of the far right is not normally what I do here, but hell, they're interesting and they're political. I first stumbled on Western Islands at a used bookshop in Los Angeles (where else?), when I found the book to the right, The Web of Subversion. The cover is amazing, with the capital tangled up in a crazed set of intersecting lines and connections. The active illustration is offset by a classic frame, silver circle within silver rectangle, on a field of regal blue. Good stuff.
Turns out I stumbled on the tail end of a little gold mine, this being the 18th book in the series (all appear to be published in 1965), which includes volumes about strikes, anarchists, spies, communists, traitors, and so much other awesome stuff, all seen through the lens of fanatical anti-communist lunatics!
Last year we launched a set of new blank notebooks, co-published with the venerable Eberhardt Press (printers of our ever popular annual organizers, which are now only available from them). We've just reprinted more: six different notebooks in 3 different sizes, with six different graphics on the covers. They make great gifts, and you can still get free shipping on all your Justseeds orders through December 12! Stock up! See below...
December 5, 2014 – March 1, 2015
Opening: December 5, 2014, 7-9pm
Interference Archive, 131 8th St., Brooklyn, NY 11215
Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp was a 19-year anti-nuclear protest and encampment at the U.S. Military Base at Greenham Common, Berkshire County, England. This exhibition and event series, organized as a mother/daughter collaboration between Susan Jahoda and Emma Jahoda-Brown, assembles accounts of the comings and goings and daily lives of a diverse group of women at Greenham primarily over a nine year period. Photographs, film, artifacts and sound are brought together to reveal a complex view of a largely invisible history.
In the immediate aftermath of the abduction of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa normal school in Guerrero, Mexico, state workers combed the hills around the town of Iguala, looking for their bodies. They found mass graves almost immediately, but just as quickly determined that the students weren't in them. Then they found more. And more.
The prolonged horror of Mexico's cartel war has gnawed at me for years. This is the true war on drugs- the war that this country has exported so that all the violence occurs south of the border. The impunity and arrogance of Iguala's mayor, who handed the students over to the Guerreros Unidos gang for disposal, is echoed in the cavalier ousting of Honduras' popular reformist president Zelaya few years previous. And the stream of desperate children pushing into US border states are fleeing the madness and butchery of gang and cartel violence in Central America states, created by US mass manufacture and export of gang members to those states. At the intersections of prison policy. immigration policy, drug policy, and pitch black brutality are the raised beds where the US plants its crops.
I made this print to honor everyone killed in this conflict, and those who rise up every day with unimaginable courage to confront the tides of blood. Its 43 letters (one for each student) read, in Spanish: "They say that mass graves are not the end of the struggle". It's true- the fight for another world doesn't end in death. You can download a high-resolution PDF of this file to print out by clicking here.
Friends of Ibn Firnis (Baltimore-based political comics artists—we've sold their work on Justseeds before, and hopefully will again soon!) just took a trip to Portugal, and found some great street art. The streets of Porto appear to be quite, but the Oficina Arara has been extremely active, covering walls with their imagery. The imagery is phenomenal, a mix of political surrealism, the aesthetic of early 20th Century novels-without-words, and a throw-back to the Spanish Civil War posters of artists like "Sim" and Helio Gomez. Click below to see some close-ups of individual posters. (All photos by Nicole Rodrigues.)
There were three major British publishers which began putting out books by African authors in the late 1950s and early 1960s, especially to the educational book market. The big two are Hienemann and Longman, and their African Writers' Series'. The other was Oxford University Press, and their Three Crowns Books imprint. There is little I can find about the history of the press, but the output of the imprint seems split between authors from African and South Asia. I'm going to focus on the African authors here.
The earliest book I found is from 1962, a survey and assessment of then contemporary African writing by Gerald Moore. The cover design (unattributed) is interesting, a series of shapes that reflect the modernist print strategy of using type blocks and spacers to create visual imagery. But it isn't composed as tightly or formally, and the core and petals of the flower are varied, off-center, and inexact. There's a tension here, between the crispness of European Modernism, and the rawness of African primitive-ism. The cover is striking, but one canread a subtle racism at work here—an implication that African writers are connected to a European tradition, but still potentially inferior.
Some recent copy-right free graphics that I made in response to the police murder and state violence taking place across the country.
Since this past spring, I've been honored to be working with a group of folks down in Southern West Virginia to launch an exciting people's history project: The West Virginia Mine Wars Museum. We're working on a building right in the middle of Matewan, WV (subject of John Sayles’ eponymous 1987 film), and on November 8 we had our first community open house! We invited folks from the area to come down, check out what we're doing, tell stories and commune, provide direct input on our goals, and (importantly) eat barbecue...
The second half of Leonard Baskin's book cover output I've found is composed of facial portraits. The portrait of Kafka to the right is exceptional. The picture feels like it is a biography in and of itself, with the tight face, cropped hair, sense that the face is simultaneously both inward and outward looking. The direct stare and filling of the entire visual plain are commanding. The tight, tall Gothic titling at the top conveys what the reader needs to know, but doesn't get in the way of the image at all.
From W.A.G.E: "Calling all friends of W.A.G.E., believers in the W.A.G.E. wo/manifesto, beneficiaries of W.A.G.E. Certification, and fans of the W.A.G.E. Fee Calculator: we are closing in on the final 48 hours of the Wages 4 W.A.G.E. campaign and we still need your help!"
"Thanks to the hundreds who have already given, we're over $33K—please help us reach $48K in the final 48 hours! Support W.A.G.E. by Tuesday November 25th at 12:00 a.m. at wages4wage.causevox.com. All donations are tax-deductible and givers of $50 or more will receive a W.A.G.E. wo/manifesto poster!"
On December 5th ABC No Rio will reprise its Clothesline Benefit Art Sale. We are asking artists who support ABC No Rio to participate by donating work to this benefit event.
As in years past, all work will be presented on clotheslines strung through No Rio's gallery space, and should be unframed, two-dimensional work no larger than 11" X 17". As space is tight, we're limiting work to one or two pieces from each participating
For this benefit event we are setting prices at either $25 or $50, depending on the size and complexity of the work, and to be decided by you.
Work can either be mailed to ABC No Rio at the address below, or delivered on December 3rd or 4th between 7:00-9:00pm. Please provide the information requested below for each work donated.
Your participation and support is crucial and important to ABC No Rio. Please freely forward this request to friends and fellow artists. Announcements and invitations for the Clothesline Benefit will be sent to all participating artists. Please invite your
friends, colleagues and collaborators!
Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), a day to honor those who have died due to transphobic actions. It is incredibly sad to bear witness to hate-based killings, as in this list of folks being memorialized this year. TDOR was started by Gwendolyn Ann Smith in 1998. Actions all over the globe are listed on tdor.info.
Please let's also honor Leslie Feinberg, who died last week, the activist and author of Stone Butch Blues, Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue, and Transgender Warriors: Making History.
There are trans people among my dear friends, old and new. Gender non-conformity is gaining visibility but there is still so much work to be done. Education starts in a conversation. As an ally, help others see beyond their binary ideas about gender, to see the spectrum. Everyone needs to be able to be themselves, and in doing so, be accepted, healthy and safe. No one should have to conform to gender expectations to thrive, or survive.
Last week I posted this to my instagram, made sense to share it here:
I spent the day harvesting in the field but constantly thinking about the students and families of the 43 disappeared, in #Guerrerro, #Mexico. On the streets citizens have been displaying their of mistrust and demands of the Mx government. Regional politicians and police have been implicated and some have resigned. Many still demand justice and an end to the corruption and deaths rampant in Mexico the last few years. Since I've been busy in the field with no other way to illustrate my thoughts I decided to work with what was on hand, veggies. Families are making the simple demand of "where are they" and they demand hard evidence that they have been murdered. My thoughts and solidarity go out to everyone in struggle, to the families for the disappearance of their loved ones and to those individuals who's fate we will learn of. #Ayotzinapa
Check out this recent story of Ayotzinapa on Democracy Now!
Mayday is a movement space and soon-to-be-opened bar in Bushwick, Brooklyn for community events, nightlife and social justice organizing. We’re transforming the brand new building into a neighborhood resource and a citywide destination where people come to work, learn, dance and build together.
Less fines, more bankers with jail times. Impeach as a new online shop with some of his artwork, you can check it out HERE.
In my mind, three of the most significant social realist printmakers that were working in the US in the second half of the 20th Century were Leonard Baskin, Antonio Frasconi, and Ben Shahn. While all three largely existed within an art world context, each also had a career doing commercial illustration work within the publishing world, and each racked up quite a collection of book cover credits. While a huge favorite of many Justseeds members, Baskin (more HERE) is the one I know the least of, and I only really began to look at his work quite recently.
I started noticing his work on book covers a year ago or so with this striking cover for Ortega y Gasset's The Dehumanization of Art (1956). A basic drawing of a column sits in a black field, squeezed between two white stripes. The lone column aches of alienation, yet the human hand visible in the drawing's details belay the "dehumanization" of the title. This tension gives the design a level of strength unexpected for its simplicity. This is one of five covers of 1950s and early 60s Doubleday Anchor mass markets I've found designed by Baskin.
Phrases I'm sick of reading lately, usually found in the stumbling copy of cultural critics hoping to remark on the current, rapidly shifting state of image capture and regurgitation: "Generation Y (or Millenials) with their Instagrams and Snapchats", "everyone a photographer with their smartphones these days", "Photography Singularity". Really though, I get a lot of joy out of sheer graphic communication online (and off). Great images, regardless of their provenance, beat most of what people write and publish on the internet (or in the NYTimes), and I don't necessarily believe that cameras in all pockets is the end of some formerly pristine culture. But what is holding a real live photograph worth these days? And who the hell drags film and lenses everywhere they go anymore in order to make such an ancient thing happen?
Bill Daniel is a photographer. He's also a filmmaker, a gear head, a seasoned tourer, inveterate raconteur, a bit of a wanderer, and a damn nice guy. He's taking a pop-up photography show on the road for the first time in a while, and if his timeless van is parking in your city, you should save the date and make the time. Like some rare and thought-extinct bird, Bill still believes in the beauty of silver gelatin on paper as a legitimate form of memorial, and he's deft at capturing elusive moments on actual film. Go see what he's been on about for 30+ years. There's a little write up of what Bill is bringing to you here, and tour dates are posted below as well...
I just opened a solo show of prints, installation, sound, and video in the Pacific Northwest College of Art's Gallery 214. It's up until the end of November, so if you find yourself in Portland, go check it out. It's all about traps- in culture, in biology, in psychology. How do we get the world to give us what we want- and how do we get stuck wanting what we've taught ourselves to get. The show features collaborations with Portland filmmaker Jodi Darby and MC Mic Crenshaw; Jodi and I made a movie wherein I reenacted my father faking his death in order to abscond from the British Air Force and fly helicopters for the CIA in DR Congo, and Mic layered some of his rhymes and thoughts over field recordings I made in a vanished Congolese village.
Click through for more images, and an artist statement!
Eric Ayotte and the Gadabout Film Fest are rounding up a long autumn tour soon, and they're stopping in Pittsburgh this Sunday, November 16th at the Babyland studios. Babyland also happens to be my hands-down favorite local complex of creative makers-of-things, running the gamut from Metalworker Dudes to Punk Accountants and studio home to Justseeds' own Bec Young!
More details below...
A new excerpt from A People's Art History of the United States: 250 Years of Activist Art and Artists Working in Social Justice Movements that was published by The New Press. This excerpt looks at ACT UP and the design collective Gran Fury that is hands down one of the most important groups for activist artists to study today and to adapt various tactics (especially their structure) to today's struggles. Here is the excerpt:
In early March 1987, more than three hundred gay and lesbian people gathered in New York City and founded ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). ACT UP’s mandate was specific—“medication into bodies”—free access to antiviral drugs to help those who were infected and more public awareness to stop the spread of AIDS. ACT UP embraced direct action as the primary way to respond to the AIDS crisis, to force the government, pharmaceutical companies, and the media to respond. Each meeting began with members stating in unison that they were “united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis.” These words were quickly backed up in practice.
The first "Judging Books by Their Covers" post was on April 12, 2010. Four and half years and over 2,000 book covers later, I've reached the two hundred post mark. I've been trying to learn how to appreciate accomplishments, and not just roll through and over them, so I took a day off and designed myself five fake book covers for my 200th post. They're all originals, except the last one—I couldn't resist making a fake Penguin/Pelican. Enjoy! Next week we're back to our regular programming, with the first of two posts about the covers of printmaker Leonard Baskin.