For its inaugural exhibition at the new 511 Gallery at the new campus flagship, the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design, PNCA is pleased to present Gathering Autonomy: Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, the first retrospective exhibition of this print cooperative that produces graphics for activist organizations around events or actions.
Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative is a decentralized network of 30 artists committed to making print and design work that reflects a radical social, environmental, and political stance. With members working from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, Justseeds operates both as a unified collaboration of similarly minded printmakers and as a loose collection of creative individuals with unique viewpoints and working methods. The Cooperative produces collective portfolios, contributes graphics to grassroots struggles for justice, builds large sculptural installations in galleries, and wheatpastes on the streets.
We're moving forward with the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum over in Matewan, WV. This community-driven, people's history museum opens to the public on May 16 (in the midst of the annual Matewan Shootout reinactment!). There's still work to be done getting the building, and our exhibits, in order - but we're moving quickly, and it's invigorating watching it all come together.
Last month several of us took on the task of cataloging the collection of board member Kenny King. Kenny's been scouring the known battlefields where skirmishes occurred during the Mine Wars era (~1912-1921) and picking up whatever artifacts he finds. His collection is the foundation upon which our burgeoning museum is built, and I was personally very excited to catalog and photograph his extensive collection - the first time his work has ever been assembled and documented in full. Below are some choice images from last month's work, all of which will be on display when the museum opens in May...
Peace, Unity, and Having Fun.
This past weekend was the big annual church book sale in neighborhood, and I found some great books, including a mini-collection of mass market paperbacks from the 1960s about Latin America. I'm behind on my research on the longer form posts I've got in the works, so I'm just going to share these four books this week. All are written or edited by Western writers, and like the content, the covers display different outsider perspectives on the nature of Latin America in the 60s. And although none are specifically about Cuba, they were all published in the wake of the Cuban Revolution, and display an attempt to either communicate or capitalize on the fear of revolution from the South that spread through North America at the time.
First is the one on the right, the anthology Social Change in Latin America Today (Vintage, 1960). The cover is by veteran designer Paul Bacon, who has designed over 6,500 book covers! The type treatment does little for me, but I love the illustration. A map of South America (not exactly Latin America, but oh well...) is entirely composed of squiggly arrows, some spiraling inward, some shooting outward. It's extremely simple, but the red, green, and black add some complexity, as well as possible political and social overtones. One can imagine the red sections, all with arrows spreading out, as the export of communism.
Wisconsin is in pretty rough shape right now, Gov. Scott Walker with the Koch Brothers backing him is cutting essential funding across the state, pushing privatization of everything possible, and the Republicans are fast tracking a right-to-work bill this week. In addition to all of that fun, on the down low there is a massive environmental disaster ramping up across the state. Pipeline L61 owned by Enbridge Energy already exists, and is getting upgrades that will up its pumping capacity from 560,000 to 1.2 million barrels of crude oil daily, that's 1/3 more than Keystone XL would. Only a Dane County (Madison area) zoning committee is holding up the process for the permitting of a pumping station.
In this sedition we look at the economic clusterfuck enveloping the globe, the mega drop in oil prices and the political party that has the left screaming like Justin Beaver fans.
The nice people at Portland Rising Tide asked me to design a t-shirt logo for them- and the above graphic is what I came up with. Fossil fuel exports are ramping up in the Pacific Northwest, with new plans for increased movement of Tar Sands oil, Wind River Coal, and a propane export terminal in the works. Portland Rising Tide is pushing back against these dirty, dangerous, and just basically stupid expansions in creative and powerful ways.
Thank You Snowden!
Back to Africa this week. I've got a massive backlog of African publishers I want to cover, but tracking down information about them is often difficult, as most no longer exist, and very few have any internet presence at all. (I wish this was a project I could afford to run out to the library to do more hardcore research, but as a labor of love, it's tough to find the time!)
This week lets look at Spro-cas, founded in 1969 by the South African Council of Churches and the Christian Institute. Its initial form, Spro-cas 1, stood for Study Project on Christianity in an Apartheid Society, and it was directed by Peter Randall. Randall was a white liberal with strong anti-apartheid sympathies, and he pushed Spro-cas to struggle against the limits of apartheid society, but still attempted to stay within the realm of the "reasonable," and thus be taken seriously by white people in South Africa. Later, Spro-cas 2 was formed—Special Project on Christian Action in Society—which was intended as the action wing of the organization. One of the primary activities of both wings was publishing, and between 1969–1973 they collectively put out about two dozen publications. Half of those are here in this post.
After San Francisco’s new mayor announced imminent plans to “clean up” downtown with a new corporate “dot com corridor” and arts district—featuring the new headquarters of Twitter and Burning Man—curators Erick Lyle, Chris Johanson, and Kal Spelletich brought over one hundred artists and activists together with neighborhood residents fearing displacement to consider utopian aspirations and to plot alternate futures for the city. Opening in May 2012, the resulting exhibition, Streetopia, was a massive anti-gentrification art fair that took place in venues throughout the city. For five weeks, Streetopia featured daily free talks, performances, and skillshares while operating a free community kitchen out of the gallery.
Welcome back to Sounds of the Week!, the musical musings of members of the Justseeds artist cooperative. For this installment I asked fellow seeders for the sounds that inspired them in 2014, not necessarily things that were released in 2014 but sounds that caught their attention or were the soundtrack to their work.
Here's the last Best of 2014 list, this time from Mary Tremonte!
This week I'm going to go through the second half of Little New World Paperbacks, roughly in order of their issue number. The last number I've found is LNW-39, although it's possible there are more and I just haven't been able to track them down. This week and last I've shared cover images for 25 of the books, so at least fourteen more are out there. I've also been able to build close to complete bibliography, filling in the blanks from the book lists on some of the back covers. That's at the end of this post.
To the right is the cover for Gil Green's Revolution Cuban Style (LNW-21). It's one of the nicer covers, drawing graphic elements from multiple political posters of the time (this was released in 1970). The image of a Viet Cong in the background is drawn for an anti-Viet Nam war poster, and the image of Ché in the front is a variation on a image by one of Cuba's well-known poster artists, Raul Martínez. The use of the poster images is interesting, because it suggests a play on the word "style" in the title, although I doubt that was intentional. But typical of the Communist Party USA, they still botched the attempt to be culturally relevant, using Martínez's pop style, but in muddy browns and greys, instead of bright pinks and oranges.
Justseeds will be tabling at Printed Matter's LA Art Book Fair!
January 30 – February 1, 2015 Please come visit us in the
XE(ROX) & PAPER + SCISSORS area with other folks in the "FRIENDLY FIRE" zone where Artists and Activists converge in a selection where the political meets the personal, curated by Printed Matter’s Max Schumann.
From the early 20th century through the early 1960s, one of the largest Left organizations in the US (if not the largest) was the Communist Party USA. The propaganda wing of the Party created multiple publishing arms, including New Century Publishers (which I featured HERE back in 2011) and the still-publishing International Publishers. International was by far the largest operation, and in the 1950s and 60s they spun off a paperback imprint called New World Paperbacks. I started looking at this on this blog way back in 2010 (see HERE and HERE). Well, in the four years since I've been collecting more New World books, and in particular have had an eye towards an imprint of that imprint: Little New World Paperbacks. In 1964, New World spun off its own series of mass market paperbacks, a format that at the time was hugely popular in publishing. Most US mass markets were sold at newstands and on racks in grocery stores, so they were designed to appeal to a broad audience of people that wouldn't go into a book store. Because of this, they tended to have lurid covers, with full-color paintings (which would eventually evolve to photographs) of crime, sex, romance, and early self-help. Giant titling fonts and eye catching graphics were also popular.
It's possible that's what Little New World (LNW) was going form but if so, they missed the mark, widely. The first title in the series, William J. Pomeroy's Guerrilla and Counter-Guerrilla Warfare has a very staid, almost clinical, cover. While the title is bold and yells out "GUERRILLA WARFARE!", the rest of the cover is so clean and precise that it almost takes away any potential edgy appeal of the giant type. The mechanical bulls eyes and full sans serif treatment make this look more like a government report than a pop expose. Sadly their is almost nothing about LNW I could find through basic research, so the motivations of the publishers remain pretty opaque. Was this an attempt to popularize Communist ideas to a broader audience? Was guerrilla warfare chosen as the topic of the first book because of its potential gritty, fringe appeal? Or did the publishers just want to make a book that fit in the reader's pocket?
Wheat paste found in Pittsburgh, PA, picture taken last November.
Last summer I was in lower Manhattan and had 6 hours to kill before a meeting Washington Heights. l took the opportunity to visit the Ben Shahn and Bernarda Bryson murals painted in 1938 at the Bronx Post Office. As part of the New Deal in the 1930s the Works Project Administration commissioned artists across the country to paint murals in public spaces, especially in post offices. Shahn stated that this particular mural was to show aspects of the rest of the country to New Yorkers. They depict working people, cotton pickers, welders, and weavers, amongst others. The mural is centered around an image of Walt Whitman pointing to one of his own poems on a chalk board.
Rockwell Kent has been a big influence on more than a few of us here at Justseeds. He was a prolific draftsman whose illustrations dominated book design and advertising in the first half of the 20th century (see Josh’s posts about this, here). He was also a master printer, a socialist, an explorer, a raconteur, a cad, and (by my aunt's account) a bit of an egomaniac.
In the 1920s, Kent bought land in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York and built a farm and a studio there. My family is from this area, and I am from nearby Plattsburgh, where Kent was something of a local celebrity and personality. Consequently, I grew up looking at his art without knowing anything about him- and two pieces of his are seared into my brain from early childhood. One was a reproduction of a beautiful painting that my aunt has in her kitchen, of a deer running through a mountainous landscape.
Continuing with some of our "Best of" lists, we have a list from Josh, and surprise, surprise... its a book list!
So from Josh MacPhee: 10 Best Crime Novels I Read in 2014:
...and for this installation of Best of 2014 Sounds of the Week we have Roger Peet, who generally can be counted on for a great taste in music:
Welcome back to Sounds of the Week!, the musical musings of members of the Justseeds artist cooperative. For this installment I asked fellow seeders for the sounds that inspired them in 2014, not necessarily things that were released in 2014 but sounds that caught their attention or were the soundtrack to their work. Here's my best of 2014:
In 1965, ten years before I was born, my father faked his death in a scuba diving accident on the north coast of Wales, in order to abscond from the British Royal Air Force and fly helicopters for clandestine CIA operations in the Congo. He left behind a wife, two daughters, parents, and siblings in pursuit of something numinous that has become clouded by time and narrative. Heroism? Indispensability? Running from, or running towards? This is a video that I made with producer Jodi Darby, reenacting the morning of his fateful departure. If you want to read more about my father and his story, there’s a book (unfortunately only at Amazon), or you could read the artist statement from my show at PNCA in November of 2014 here.
I've been doing a ton of screenprinting for Ganzeer's solo exhibition, which opens in NYC, tonight!
Leila Heller Gallery is pleased to announce “All-American By Ganzeer”,the first solo exhibition in the United States of Ganzeer on view from January 16 – February 21, 2015 at 568 West 25th from 6PM-8PM. “All-American By Ganzeer” is curated by Dr. Shiva Balaghi, one of the world’s foremost scholars of contemporary art from the Middle East.
The latest installment from Submedia.tv.
A video collaboration with CrimethInc.
To Change Everything: An Anarchist Appeal
If you could change anything, what would you change? Would you go on vacation for the rest of your life? Make fossil fuels stop causing climate change? Ask for ethical banks and politicians? Surely nothing could be more unrealistic than to keep everything the way it is and expect different results.
Our private financial and emotional struggles mirror global upheaval and disaster. We could spend the rest of our days trying to douse these fires one by one, but they stem from the same source. No piecemeal solution will serve; we need to rethink everything according to a different logic.
To change anything, start everywhere.
Hi friends of Justseeds, we are super excited to get our new project here at Justseeds rolling: the Print of the Month Club. You can purchase a membership until January 25th, and get 12 months of radical art delivered straight to your door.
To see some preview shots of the 1st print of the month completed by Pete Railand and a walk through process of making it, follow through here...
Welcome back to Sounds of the Week!, the musical musings of members of the Justseeds artist cooperative. For this installment I asked fellow seeders for the sounds that inspired them in 2014, not necessarily things that were released in 2014 but sounds that caught their attention or were the soundtrack to their work. Luckily at least one person was up for the challenge. Here we have a top nine list from Alec Icky Dunn.
Images of a RevolutionOne of my favorite art books is Images of a Revolution, a oversized if slim volume on the murals of revolutionary Mozambique. It was published in 1983 by the Zimbabwe Publishing House, who were featured in last week's blog post (HERE). I found this book years back tucked into the used art section at Moe's in Berkeley, which is usually really picked over, but this is a real gem. I had no idea it even existed, and hits a total trifecta of my interests: Africa, politics, and street art. It was an especially great find as now it's hard to find a copy anywhere for less that $50-$100! Hopefully someone will unearth a case of them at some point soon and flood the market, making it cheap again, because it's a fabulous book.
I've been meaning to share Juice Rap News videos on the blog for a really long time now. It's a news parody show, in the form of rap, with an incisive critique and socio-political analysis. I'm always entertained and appreciative of how they present current events and, generally overwhelming, social and ecological impacts in a digestible way.
They finished their "3rd Season" at the end of November and will begin new episodes next month, until then go through their archives!
Here is The New World Order, their last installment.
In the unremitting hail of awful news about white supremacy, impunity, and complicity that we've been suffering recently, something explicit has stood out- each of the murders committed with the blessing of the state by white police officers has been justified through fear. The heavily armed paramilitary agent (read:cop) expresses a terror of the person of color whom he killed, a terror that unhinged him, and left him no recourse but to deadly force. Mike Brown was a "demon". The father of the cop who shot Tamir Rice said that his son "had no choice". The irrational terror that racism inspires in white people is an historical force, not just a contemporary one. It's at the core of how racism works, and relates specifically to the knowledge that this system, stoked with corpses, has produced a patrimony for white people that they know is stolen. Their terror comes from the justified fear that someday the people that white supremacy has been crushing for so long will reach out and take it all back. You can download a high-resolution PDF version of this graphic to print out by clicking here.
As many of you know, I'm a big collector of African paperbacks (and ones about Africa), and I've been slowing featuring different presses here on the blog. Past features include: Three Crowns Africa, Ghana Publishing House, Cambridge Africa, books by Amilcar Cabral, Fontana Africa, and the Penguin African Library, and more! Anyway, anyone that has read some of these knows that it's been difficult to track down info about any of the African publishing houses, as most went under in the 1980s or 90s, and have zero presence on the internet or through basic library research. I recently picked up a book by called Africa Writes Back by James Curry, one of the founders of Heinemann's African Writers Series, the foundational published collection of African writing, particularly fiction. Although not exactly a swift and exciting read, it is chock full of information, which has really helped pull together some contextual knowledge about my collection. All to say, keep an eye out over the next year for me to finally start putting up some posts about some of these great, sadly almost forgotten African publishers.
This week I'm going to focus on Zimbabwe Publishing House (ZPH), one of the major post-independence presses in Zimbabwe. I first discovered ZPH about a decade ago in Victoria, Canada of all places. I stopped in at Dark Horse Books, and found a copy of Black Fire, to the right. It has all the elements I love in this genre: duotone or limited colors, raw print quality, manually manipulated photography, and bold type treatments.
Over the last couple years I've been finding old political mass market books about Ireland, and squirreling them away. Then I realized they're actually all published by the same press, Anvil. Like so many of the publishers I've been looking at over the past couple years, there is almost no evidence of them on the internet beyond book listings on Amazon and other sales sites. No history, no material on who was involved, how long they existed, etc. From what I can suss out, Anvil Books was an Irish Republican press that published books related to Irish history and culture from the early 1950s through the early 2000s, but with the core of the output in the 1960s and 70s. The majority of the books are heavily political, and don't shy away from Ireland's history of armed struggle.
Case in point, The Complete Book of IRA Jailbreaks 1918–1921, to the right. If the title wasn't enough to clarify the perspective of the book, the subtitle "Sworn to Be Free" does a pretty good job of it. This cover is a decent representative of Anvil's output in the 1970s: loosely modeled on Penguin's non-fiction Pelican imprint; powerful, singular images front and center; and bold sans serif titling. One of the main things that distinguishes these from Pelicans is the penchant for black to be the dominant cover color. It's difficult not to read into the black (and bleak imagery) an attempt to communicate how hard the struggle for Irish freedom has been. Here the solid black is broken up only by light coming in from a bank of windows, but the windows are high up, out of reach. Not only was life in prison for a Republican grim, the feat of escaping was that much more impressive because of it.