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.
Good friend and artist Robyn Renee Hasty is approaching the final days of her kickstarter for an incredible project she has been building on since 2013, when, after hurricane Sandy she bought a flood damaged beach bungalow in the Rockaways. Robyn plans to transform the space into a live/work artist residency and community space, and has been working with architects expert in flood resilient construction, NYC based artists and the Rockaway community to develop her vision. As a long term goal Stilt City with become a non-profit supported by grants, events and cooperative art sales. For the preliminary construction Robyn is funding the project largely with her own funds, but is looking for community support for the final chunk she needs. Numerous artists have donated incredible artwork to the list of thank you gifts, including Swoon, Duke Riley, Alyssa Dennis, Ron Gorchov, and myself with artist proofs of a a new screenprint edition. Stilt City is an incredible project envisioned by an incredible woman, I'd love to see her reach her goal (her kickstarter ends midnight new years eve!)
Click to check out her kickstarter page.
More pics and info from Robyn on the project to follow...
When considering the death of species and the grim biological impoverishment of earth, we have to take the lesser with the larger, and the less lovely as well. Recent news of the extinction of the St. Helena Giant Earwig is a good example of this. I have to admit that earwigs are one of the only insect varieties that give me involuntary shudders, which I think has to do with the cerci on the rear of their abdomens, twin pincers whose function is generally unclear, but may have some defensive quality. The St. Helena Earwig was the titan of the group, measuring an astonishing 3.1 inches when fully grown. Inhabitants of St. Helena, a remote outpost in the south Atlantic to the west of Africa, the earwig was driven to extinction by the predictable conjunction of habitat destruction (gravel mining by humans for building) and invasion of exotic species; mice, rats, and centipedes. When I look now at the photos of these dramatic beasts, my frisson of horror lessens- they're actually quite beautiful, and harmless, and were relics of a unique and rich history of evolution on their remote island home. We move forward now relentlessly into a shallower world- the only earwigs we'll ever see are the garden variety, slithery little fiends that they are, and we'll never marvel at the true bulk horror of their enormous finger-length cousins. Our nightmares suffer as well as our dreams.
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.)