Poster Exhibit – Book Release Party – Artist Panel
CELEBRATE PEOPLE’S HISTORY: the Poster Book of Resistance and Revolution
Edited by Josh MacPhee
Foreword by Rebecca Solnit
Published by the Feminist Press
7pm – Saturday Nov. 20
The Center for Political Education
522 Valencia St, SF
Since 1998, Celebrate People’s History posters have documented feminist organizers, indigenous uprisings, civil rights leaders, union struggles, LGBT activism and much more. Bay Area history stands out with posters on Los Siete de la Raza, the 1969 Alcatraz occupation, the International Hotel and the 1966 transgender riot at Compton’s Cafeteria. The Feminist Press has just released over 100 posters in hardback, and the book’s West Coast premiere includes a poster exhibit, book signing and artist panel.
Lincoln Cushing, historian, www.docspopuli.org
Favianna Rodríguez, artist, www.favianna.com
FREE admission. Donations go to MacPhee’s partner, Dara Greenwald, who is battling cancer.
When Josh MacPhee sent a call for art e-mail out about four years ago, he wanted a fresh pile of posters to put in his book project for “Celebrate People’s History” (just released from the Feminist Press). While Josh and I collaborated and crossed over on our stencil projects, he was always making, printing, selling, and giving away CPH posters. Josh always talked about how this project was a labor of love as well as a way to “teach” history that tended to fall through the cracks. Sometimes the posters ended up on public walls. Other times, they would end up framed on private walls. But they always educated and entertained.
With this in mind, I reached out to long-time friend and collaborator Mark Cort with an idea of sharing some of South Carolina’s lost People’s History. Being our home state, the obvious choice was a poorly documented event known as the Stono Rebellion. I found one slim history book that had all the contemporary accounts and I found very little valuable sources online, but nonetheless I wrote a paragraph of text and then had Mark draw a simple illustration for the poster.
Kevin Keating was once known far and wide as the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project; he was accused of keying SUVs in the late 1990s to protest gentrification. Most people thought he was making a complicated point in a humorously dramatic manner, but, of course, opinions varied. In a 1999 San Francisco Chronicle article detailing his arrest and the police ransacking of his home, he was portrayed as a poo-smearing criminal, but even Commander Greg Suhr of the Mission Police Station freely admitted that Keating was “well-read and cerebral.” Don’t you want to see this guy’s art collection? At “Defiant Proclamations,” Keating and other interesting, energetic activists such as muralist Mona Caron and painter Hugh D’Andrade display their political posters. “Radical Posters from the 1960s to the Present” is the show’s subtitle, and other contributors include Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes of Dignidad Rebelde, who have deep roots in the Bay Area’s graphic-arts poster tradition. And word on the cyberstreet is that Vince Dugar has a poster made by 1960s food-freedom group the Diggers.
HappyFeet presents Defiant Proclamations
Radical Posters from the 1960s to the Present
For decades, Bay Area walls have been pasted with bold art and pertinent messages about the politics, practices, and abuses of contemporary mainstream culture and its co-opted voices. Also speaking outside the frameworks of organized labor and left movements, individual artists and collectives have shouted defiant proclamations with ink and paper. Today, political graphics have reached a broad audience via many media sources, hopefully creating a new wave of radical art as well as a redefinition of visual art and it’s usual commodified structures. With a strong history in the Bay Area, this one night only exhibit will feature works old and new, giving a glimpse of the broad range of opinions and styles that have papered walls across the area.
Thursday, March 11
(one night only!)
7 pm to midnight
2050 Bryant St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Posters, Handbills, and Artifacts From
the private collection of Vince Dugar
the Interference Archive (Josh MacPhee and Dara Greenwald)
(thanks to Laura for this pic from Dachau, Germany)
A month or so ago, I photographed a new stencil in Clarion Alley, the funky painted street by Community Thrift on Valencia St. I wasn’t sure at first if I was going to post the image to Stencil Archive, because for the first time in San Francisco, I had captured a White Supremest logo as negative space. Huh? The “New Right”? Why the hell are they tagging a right wing stencil in Clarion Alley? [I posted the stencil, because people need to know what their icons are and deface them whenever they can.]
Before the Clarion Alley block party, a friend buffed the stencils. I don’t blame him, especially since Clarion Alley is a lefty, Anarcho-Radical zone, with murals that make hate-free political statements as well as critique capitalist society. Before the Block Party, I got word that the SFPD were going to crack down on open alcohol containers during the event. I stopped by the alley early to look for stencils and double check that rumor. Sure enough, a volunteer was making a sign telling people to behave that day. (The SFPD harassed participants by riding motorcycles through the party and did issue open container citations.)
Sunday at the West Fest, a free concert in Golden Gate Park, I threw a new line in my carny spiel: “Just like the SF Diggers gave it all away in the Summer of Love, our games are free. There ain’t no line, and it don’t cost a dime!” The SF Diggers have inspired me many times over with their mad, creative urge to make the word “free” the real deal. They gave food away to the wayward runaways that flocked to Upper Haight, inspiring the Food Not Bombs campaigns. They hustled landlords to get living space and then crammed in as many homeless teens as possible to get them off the streets, and the Huckleberry Youth Programs is a reminder of their work. The SF Diggers threw free concerts in the Panhandle, the West Fest was a quasi-unsponsored (they did have logos all over things) example of that legacy. Finally, the SF Diggers created free stores, where money wasn’t considered. The Really Really Free Markets and Clothing Swaps stand as 21st Century Examples of this idea.
The SF Diggers, for good or bad, were tied to the San Francisco Mime Troupe. On top of all that free culture listed above, there were also many puppet performances, spontaneous art happenings, and wild, tripped out parties. The Mime Troupe gave their shows away for free in parks across the City, and they had to fight for that right, inspiring the SF Diggers (and bringing on the hilarious arrest of some of their giant puppets). On the East Coast, Peter Schumann’s Bread and Puppet Theater also began to throw free performances in New York, Vermont, and beyond. And Luis Valdez and El Teatro Campesino also began free, radical performance from a Mexi-Cali Latino perspective.
Why do I read the news anymore? Well, why do I read news headlines? I have good sites to go to, but they still spin the schlock people want to read most. The past few days, I’ve been watching how the right-wing spin-mongers have totally wound their panties so tight, that their eyeballs are popping out. I just Googled “obama socialist” and got a pile of hits on this meme. Which makes me laugh since Obama isn’t really anything unless the Democratic corporate backers tell him what he is.
I got angry today when I saw the NY Timesspin the Obama school address non-issue on their site. In the lead off paragraph, which is about all anyone reads these days, the Times said that the address “has set off a revolt among conservative parents, who have accused the president of trying to indoctrinate their children with socialist ideas.” Last night, on the Huffington Post, I watched as current media darling Glen Beck connected Obama to the Rockefellers to socialists and fasciscts via all the artwork on the Rockefeller Plaza by way of Van Jones (the current punching bag for the right wing mudslingers). Beck’s main piece of art was a Diego Rivera mural that is no longer in the Plaza, which most Americans have never seen in person. Finally, on the Drudgereport tonight, a link to a local news site stated that elected official U.S. Rep. Paul Broun “told a meeting of the Morgan County Republicans on Wednesday night that Obama already has or will have the three things he needs to make himself a dictator: a national police force, gun control and control over the press.”
I like the hearse on the new book jacket for Thomas Pynchon’s new novel Inherent Vice. It’s a surf bum hearse, with painted pictures on top of the paint job. I have a hearse on my book shelf, reminding me of my father. Getting ready to start a new fiction story gets me excited for the new metaphors within the pages. The first line of the book, perhaps Pynchon’s set-up for a good joke, is the quote “Under the paving-stones, the beach! – Graffito, Paris, May 1968” If that’s the beginning of the gag, then I’m already in on it!
I just watched a movie where an unwitting hero battles a well-armed military-focused corporation in the slums of South Africa. This guy’s a dupe for the corporation, which is power-hungry for using their conventional technology and hopefully getting more from the aliens. The government barely exists in Johannesburg, and Nigerian thugs make seem to control District 9. They make a living doing a brisk trade with cat food. Continue reading “Yes, Mr. Pynchon, “the beach” indeed!”
CNN is on here at my hotel room in Buffalo, and the main news story is how “citizen journalists” in Iran continue to cover the breaking stories with cell phones, Twitter, and FaceBook. Iranians are risking their lives to submit video footage to network news stations. Over on Huffington Post, Nico Pitney is blogging about Iran, using sources from all over the web, and doing a bit of vetting to discount some fake citizen journalism.
As some of you may know, I have stencil work from Iran over on Stencil Archive. I don’t know the artist’s real names, nor any details about their lives. But I do understand that doing graffiti in Iran comes at a great risk. Larger than the risks that other artists face, since graffiti is considered an evil Western-influenced activity by some fundamentalist Iranians. Since the protests started, I have been concerned about the artists, fearing their safety and hoping that they’re keeping things real in the streets. They’ve gotten in touch and are OK. But extremely excited and concerned about losing their votes in the recent election. They have reacted by doing what they do best during these amazing times in Persia. They’re keeping art in the streets!
My data mining has dug up some blogs, and Dub Gabriel has started blogging for a friend in Iran who is telling his version of the story. Here’s a photoblog that I have gone to to look at photos. Here is a Flickr stream of some current art in the Iranian streets. Iran is blocking some major web sites (like YouTube), but Flickr seems to be available. And it’s easy to get around the government blocking: Dub Gabriel is easily helping his friend in Iran post information, probably via simple email exchanges. So posting some of these sites is a simple act that I can do to help the thousands of green-clad people in the streets of Iran.
Twenty years ago, Chinese students occupied Tianamen Square, and were eventually brutally crushed by the People’s Army. Last night at my presentation at Hallwalls, I showed some photos of the street art and stencil work in Iran. I made the comment that things might have ended differently in 1989, had the students used cell phones and cameras to let the whole world instantly watch and witness their experience with seeking freedom and democracy. I don’t know if today’s coverage in Iran will bring a huge change with their culture, but I know that our ability to witness it first hand is a sweet experience. CNN is showing international rallies supporting the Iranian democrats, and I am sure that those attending these rallies are snapping pics and taking phone vids of the scene. And they’re MMS’ing them to friends in Persia. And they’re instantly posting them online.
Together, we can witness what is happening half the world away, and thus our compassion expands for those who desire the basic freedoms we all should have. Hopefully, this will drive change in the world and bring lessons of unity and equality that we should’ve learned over and over again. If not, then we will once again have to see similar uprisings happen, and have to relive the painful images of oppression. That being said, don’t forget the recent struggles in Tibet, the ongoing pain in Palestine, and other suffering around the world of people who don’t have the technology to give us the first-hand experience.