I recently came across a U.S. political sticker from Iowa in 1926 that is one of the first of its kind, from what I’ve seen, that isn’t an I.W.W. Wobbly labor union stickerette (see previous posts on I.W.W. stickerettes). What’s interesting, however, is how Ralph Chaplin, a 1910s-era I.W.W. key artist/agitator, talked about printed labels on various fruit and vegetable cartons that helped inspire him to create political stickers. I’ll dig up those references for a later post.
Archive for the 'the faith of graffiti' Category
Three new Industrial Workers of the World “stickerettes” for the Street Art Graphics digital archive!
The text reads, “I.W.W. — For More of the Good Things in Life — Organize — One Big Union”
This one reads, “Join the I.W.W. — We Know He Won’t Join — But How About You?”
And this one reads, “One Big Union — The Key to Industrial Peace — OBU — Join the I.W.W.”
(I add the text here in case people are doing keyword searches.) For more on “stickerettes,” see my previous posts:
Stickerkitty is collaborating with The Weave: Mediocracy Unspun on a new project entitled Weaving the Streets & People’s Archive (WSPA). John Collins, professor of global studies at St. Lawrence University and co-founder of the Weave, and I put together a proposal to create “a new blog and digital archive that will document the creative ways in which ordinary people make use of public space to express themselves” (excerpted from our proposal abstract). We learned on Monday that our proposal was accepted and will be funded for the first two years by a grant from the Mellon Foundation’s Crossing Boundaries: Re-Envisioning the Humanities for the 21st Century initiative at SLU. WSPA will complement the Street Art Graphics digital archive that is presented on the SLU art gallery Web site. Street Art Graphics exists at this point as a catalogued image database. For WSPA, however, team members will gather street ephemera, conduct research, and write about various topics in blog posts.
One of our first bloggers will be Lukasz Niparko ’13, the SLU alum I visited in Poznań, Poland, last June. I think he is going to write about Rozbrat, the oldest occupied squat in the country. Lukasz and I spent an entire day touring around the city and photographing street art. “Miasto to nie firma” in the modified sticker below means, “The city is not a business,” in response to urban re-development and the privatization of public spaces in Poznań.
“Odzyskujemy miasto” in the stencil below also comments upon this issue with “We recover [reclaim?] the city.” The sideways-looking N on the right is the international squatters’ symbol.
On this sticker, “Przeciwko prywatyzacji. Uslugi publiczne naleza do wszystkich.” stands for “Against privatization. Public services belong to everyone.”
I’ve got a new angle for my sticker book – to select 365 stickers and tell a story each day with a sticker. I worked on January today, and here below is what I have so far. Dates in bold mean I know of a sticker in my collection that could match the event. In some cases, there is more than one event, so I’ll have to choose later. Dates in italics mean I’ve already found the sticker image file to match the event. Ultimately, I’ll write a few paragraphs for each day/sticker of the year.
A Sticker a Day: Western History and Pop Culture through Street Art Stickers
January 1: The beginning of the Internet as we know it today; The ARPANET officially changes to using the Internet Protocol, creating the Internet (1983); Ellis Island opens in the U.S. (1892); European Central Bank established (1998); Euro adopted by 11 countries (1999)
January 2: World War II: Nuremberg, Germany is severely bombed by Allied forces. (1945); Ronald Reagan sworn in as Governor of California (1967)
January 3: The last original weekday Peanuts comic strip is published (2000)
January 4: The New York Stock Exchange opens its first permanent headquarters at 10-12 Broad near Wall Street (1865)
January 5: The Ford Motor Company announces an eight-hour workday and a minimum wage of $5 for a day’s labor (1914) (sticker done)
January 6: President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his Four Freedoms speech in the State of the Union address (1941)
January 7: The Senate trial in the impeachment of U.S. President Bill Clinton begins (1999)
January 8: The trial of seven men accused of illegal entry into Democratic Party headquarters at Watergate begins (1973)
January 9: Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveils the first iPhone (2007)
January 10: Bush announces “The New Way Forward” for troop surge in Iraq (2007) (No Blood for Oil sticker – done)
January 11: Immigrant textile works in Lawrence, Massachusetts, go on strike when wages are reduced in response to a mandated shortening of the work week (1912)
January 12: The Royal Aeronautical Society is formed in London (1866)
January 13: Johnny Cash performs live at Folsom State Prison (1968)
January 14: The Human Be-In takes place in San Francisco, California’s Golden Gate Park, launching the Summer of Love (1967)
January 15: The Coca-Cola Company, then known as the Pemberton Medicine Company, is incorporated in Atlanta, Georgia (1889)
January 16: The United States ratifies the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, authorizing Prohibition in the United States one year after ratification (1919)
January 17: Matt Drudge breaks the story of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair on his website (1998)
January 18: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is officially observed for the first time in all 50 states (1993)
January 19: The United States Senate votes against joining the League of Nations (1920)
January 20: George W. Bush State of the Union linking church and state (2004) (sticker – done) http://www.theocracywatch.org/faith_base.htm
January 21: Black Monday in worldwide stock markets. FTSE 100 had its biggest ever one-day points fall, European stocks closed with their worst result since the September 11 attacks in 2001, and Asian stocks drop as much as 14% (2008)
January 22: The Supreme Court of the United States delivers its decision in Roe v. Wade, legalizing elective abortion in all fifty states (1973)
January 23: President Richard Nixon announces that a peace accord has been reached in Vietnam (1973)
January 24: The United States Department of Homeland Security officially begins operation (2003)
January 25: Charles Manson and three female “Family” members are found guilty of the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders (1971)
January 26: Birth of Angela Davis, U.S. political activist (1944) (2 stickers – done)
January 27: Arab Spring: The 2011 Yemeni revolution begins as over 16,000 protestors demonstrate in Sana’a (2011); Nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site begins with a one-kiloton bomb dropped on Frenchman Flat (1951); The trial of Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators began. They were executed on January 31 (1606)
January 28: United States troops leave Cuba with the exception of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base after being there since the Spanish-American War (1909)
January 29: In his State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush describes “regimes that sponsor terror” as an Axis of Evil, in which he includes Iraq, Iran and North Korea (2002)
January 30: Mahatma Gandhi is released from prison by Jan C. Smuts after been tried and sentenced to 2 months in jail earlier in the month. On the same day 40 years later in 1948 Gandhiji is assassinated (1908)
January 31: The Soviet Union exiles Leon Trotsky (1929)
This is the first image I’ve ever seen of someone putting up stickers. I found it in two issues of an I.W.W. newspaper called Solidarity published in Cleveland on September 9 and 16, 1917. Stickerettes were advertised in Solidarity between at least June 24, 1916, and August 25, 1917, though I’ve seen a reference that they might have been advertised as early as November 20, 1915. In 1916, one could buy stickerettes in packages – 110 per package cost 15 cents, or a box of 1,100 cost $1.00.
I’ve been trying to find photographs of stickerettes put up on buildings or other surfaces, too, but no luck yet.
Good news. Guy Wicke is indeed the son of James T. Wicke. Here is what Guy wrote in response to my email.
James T. Wicke is my father. He died suddenly when I was 17, so obviously anything from his youth or political activism during the 60s-70s is a treasure beyond words for me. The Pied Piper Lane address is my grandparents’ house (his childhood home). I’ve never heard of the organization he was supposedly acting secretary of, but I wonder if it was a bit of tongue-in-cheek grandiosity. He was a fan of that type of humor. Or maybe it was a real group of activists in Wisconsin.
I’m going to send Guy the envelope that the stickers came in plus some spare stickers. Who knows, maybe at some point we’ll get to know the background of these mysterious little paper thought bombs. A friend of mine suggested that I check Google Scholar. Pay it forward!
It’s been difficult finding information on the “night raiders” gummed labels and stickers that I posted about previously. Google searches for the sender of the envelope—J S Kennard—and text on the stickers—FANSHEN, FANSHAN, Peace Products, night raiders, and Vietnam War—have yielded next to nothing. I’ve only got one lead with FANSHEN, but need to do some more research before I can post anything.
Today, however, on ancestry.com, I found out that a James T. Wicke, formerly from Wausau, Wisconsin, died at age 51 on January 16, 1999, in Chicago. Survivors included a son, Guy F. Wicke, who is now a Chicago-based comedian and works in marketing and public relations for the theater community. His company is called Wicke International, and he writes on his Web site that the name was a joyous nod to his late father, James T. Wicke’s, sense of humor. Dad ran two apartment buildings, and as a property manager created letterhead, cards, and pens to look like a global corporation, bringing a playful irony to his business. I emailed Guy Wicke to see if he can help fill me in on the stickers. Stay tuned!
There is a chance I might be able to show stickers from my collection at an artists’ collective gallery in NYC next February-March 2013! I can’t say where exactly yet until the artists in the group confirm the idea, but the director of the gallery is very positive. I met with him on Wednesday, and we spent over an hour talking through different ways to approach the project in ways that would be a good fit with the well-known street artists in the collective (inc. Faust and others). Brian, the director, suggested we show individual stickers on the wall rather than stickers in thematic groups. I like the idea a lot. It would put the focus on stickers as individual works of art and creative expression. We also talked about emphasizing the D-I-Y aspects of stickers to show one-of-a-kind handmade stickers (drawings, paintings, silkscreens, Xeroxes), as well as commercially printed vinyl stickers. I think of D-I-Y in this context as often using free or cheap materials (US postal stickers, “Hello, my name is” stickers, etc.) and creating idiosyncratic mysterious messages with image and/or text, but even vinyl stickers can carry a D-I-Y attitude. Here are two little magical D-I-Y stickers, in vinyl on the left and hand-drawn on the right:
One of my favorite books on D-I-Y is Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture by Stephen Duncombe. Most everything that the author describes about zines pertains directly to stickers, too, in my opinion. Primarily, both zines and stickers offer an alternative to commercial culture and consumer capitalism (how apt that I’m writing today on Black Friday, ugh….). I’ll write more about zines and stickers in a later post.
Since I didn’t have to go to work today, I went through hundreds of stickers in my collection looking for any possible themes, genres, etc., for the show in NYC. It was really fun and a nice change of scenery since I’ve spent so much of the last couple of years focusing on political stickers. Here is some preliminary info I sent to Brian:
- U.S. Postal stickers – I have about 75 that are hand-drawn, hand-painted, silkscreened, and a few Xeroxed. From the strange to the wonderful! I also have a bunch from Germany, too, which I’ll go through later. Some German ones are done by well-known taggers such as Tower, Nest, and Ed Crew.
- Animals and insects (35+): taggers – birds, cats, rabbits, lions, fox, mouse, zebra, panda, wolf, penguin, bugs, roaches, and bees.
- Skull and crossbones (36+): taggers and advertising – tattoo salons, bands, hair salons, punks.
- Portraits – hand-drawn and vinyl (50+) – mostly unknown faces – taggers; humanoid animal/human figures. These are some of the most creative stickers, I think. Really individual styles.
- More well-known street/sticker artists (30+): Faile, Matt Siren, Gary Baseman, Serkos, 20 mg, Skarekroe, London Police, Evoker, Bäst, Toaster, Bishop 203.
And finally, here is a hand-drawn postal sticker that states, “Twerps! Area Riot! Rap Music Godz Ate Thier Oats!”
Various sticker activities have kept me busy this summer, making it difficult to find time to write blog posts. That, plus my home laptop died, so I don’t have the chance to write in the evenings. Basically, though, all is very good. I gave a paper presentation at the Return to the Street conference at Goldsmiths University of London in June, and I’m heading to the University of Brighton in early September to present at their 7th Annual International Interdisciplinary conference entitled Riot Revolt Revolution. From over 70 speakers, I am one of seven from the U.S. In addition, the Contemporary Street Art digital collection (catalogued) on the St. Lawrence University art gallery Web site and stickerkitty’s collection (uncatalogued) on Flickr continue to grow. Thanks goes to Arline Wolfe at SLU for her cataloguing work in July.
I was also given the opportunity to contribute another exhibition review for the Journal of Curatorial Studies and wrote about the 7th Berlin Biennale, after viewing the show during my last trip to Germany in late April/early May 2012. And my big project on the home front for the past two months has been to put together a mega-sticker exhibition that hopefully will travel to colleges and universities in the U.S. and elsewhere. Organized thematically, the exhibition features several hundred stickers dating from 2004 to 2012, primarily from Germany, the U.S., and Canada. Carole Mathey at SLU has begun to photograph the sticker boards that make up the show, and these will be used to publicize the exhibition. More on that to follow. In the meantime, check out this 1942 magazine cover from Collier’s.
The Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at NYU’s Tamiment Library contains close to 30 original stickerettes, i.e., the “silent agitators” I wrote about in my previous post. I went down to NYC last week to see them in person and had no idea there would be so many different designs. From what I’ve been reading, some were used as early as the 1910s, while a later one referred to the fighting in Viet Nam (sic). I also saw a catalogue for an exhibition entitled “Wobbly” 80 Years of Rebel Art that was held at the Labor Archives and Research Center in San Francisco in 1987, so I ordered a copy of my own from AbeBooks. The catalogue identifies some of the artists who made these stickers (William Henkelman, for example, a sign painter by profession), though most of the creators weren’t artists at all (C.E. Setzer a.k.a. “CES” or “X13” was a construction worker on the Los Angeles aqueduct). According to the catalogue, “The IWW pioneered the use of these little pieces of gummed paper. Over the years countless different ones in a variety of sizes were produced in quantities that must total in the millions. Old and new, they are still in use by the IWW as a simple, succinct method to spread ideas or just to generally raise the consciousness of the passerby.”
I get asked all the time if it’s right or wrong to take stickers off the streets, but seeing the stickerettes at NYU confirmed my dedication to building a sticker archive. The stickers in my collection are just not available anymore, and some day, I’ll donate the collection to an institution for future research and scholarship.