Archive for November, 2012

Possible sticker show in NYC!

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!”

U.S. “Night Raiders” protest stickers

I recently acquired over 100 U.S. political stickers from the 1960s and ‘70s protesting the Vietnam War and U.S. imperialism, and calling for racial equality among blacks and whites.  The stickers were in their original envelope from a J. S. Kennard, Jr., 26 Winant Road, New Brunswick, NJ, 08824.  Underneath the return mailing label is rubber-stamped “PEACE PRODUCTS, Dr. J. S. Kennard, Manager.”  Underneath that is a gummed yellow sticker label with a quote that states, “If we could keep our dirty, bloody, dollar-crooked fingers out of the business of these nations, they will arrive at a solution of their own.  General Shoup, U.S. Marine Corps.”  The envelope of stickers was originally sent to a Mr. James T. Wicke, Acting Secy., Human Relations Confrontation, 2418 Pied Piper Lane, Wausau, Wisc., 54401.  I can’t make out the date the envelope was first sent out, but it costs .24 cents at the time.

There are basically four different types of stickers in the envelope.  The first that I’ll describe today are yellow and orange perforated and gummed labels that run about 7/8 x 1 7/8 inches to 1 ½ x 1 ¾ inches in size.  Some of these stickers give an address, such as “Preserve your moral balance when your government engages in criminal war: EXERCISE DAILY IN CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE.  Be a ‘Night Raider.’  Use FANSHEN Stickers: 1331 P.O., New Brunswick.”  Many stickers quote political, military, and religious figures of the day: Gen. M. B. Ridgeway; Senator Wayne Morse; Senator Frank Church; Sen. George McGovern; Gen. Douglas MacArthur; U. Thant; Martin Luther King; and Pres. John C. Bennett, Union Theological Seminary, NY.  The Bennett sticker states, “TO THE CLERGY: If the ministers keep silent about the war in Vietnam, the very stones in their churches will cry out!”

Other stickers in this batch state:

  • CHILDREN are NOT FOR BURNING
  • WITHDRAW NOW, NEGOTIATE LATER, Vietnam bill for U.S. damage
  • THE PATRIOT “strives to keep his government from doing what is wrong.”
  • Who gave the US the right to interfere in countries whose politics we don’t like?  God or the Devil?
  • It is NATIONALISM NOT COMMUNISM that animates the resistance movement in Vietnam; the war will not end until the U.S. sees it.
  • Clergy who do not protest the war in Vietnam forfeit their respect of moral citizens.  Enough of Priestitution!
  • OTHERS SEE US … “Guilty Men, whose own might is their God!” – Bible: Habakkuk 1.11
  • THE TRAITORS Are the men in Washington who send American Boys to Die for greedy profiteers.

I spent a fair amount of time yesterday trying to find information about PEACE PRODUCTS, FANSHEN stickers, J. S. Kennard, Jr., Mr. James T. Wicke, and Human Relations Confrontation.  Not much luck on anything.  So far, the only J. S. Kennard, Jr. I could find from the 1960s and ‘70s is one someone called J. Spencer Kennard, Jr., who wrote an article called “The Burial of Jesus,” in JBL 74 [1955], 227-38.  This piece is cited in several other journals and books about Jesus, and given that a few of the stickers quote the Bible and make reference to clergy and God, it might be the same Kennard ten years later.  My own father was a minister in the 1960s and early ‘70s and became an anti-Vietnam War draft counselor, so perhaps these two men followed the same path.  Or it’s just wishful thinking on my part.  I do know, however, that my interest in protest graphics stems from anti-war posters we had around the house when I was a kid.  One poster in particular has always stayed with me.  It had a quote by Harvey Cox, a Yale classmate of my Dad’s, that read, “Not to decide is to decide.”

More on these new stickers to follow.  Now get out on Tuesday and VOTE!!


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