When Detroiters think about rock 'n' roll poster artists, we immediately jump back to another time. Gary Grimshaw, the former poster child for the MC5 and Iggy, comes to mind, as does Carl Lundgren's stuff for the Grande Ballroom. Then there's Glenn Barr, Derek Hess, Chris Girard, Mark Dancey, Mark Arminski and the skilled crew at Highway Press. These are the ladies and gents who've designed for decades, either as their day gig or in spite of it. Their work has received due credit in gallery shows and glossy anthologies.
Aside from high-quality limited edition prints that hung inside venues, on any given night in the '80s and '90s, you could come out of a club and find a dozen fliers under your windshield — by Kevin Sykes, Dean Western or, if you were lucky, a gag flier by Jerry Vile and Bootsey that poked fun at punk-art posturing.
But wait! There's an emerging crew of graphic artists who, in this MySpace age of ease, still opt to equip themselves with Sharpies, scissors and spray cans, sketching, screen-printing and staring at their computer screens for hours each night. Craig Horky earns his living creating band and gig posters for clients around the world, including in New Zealand and France, while Dave Graw does it for fun, for free, for anyone around town with a passion for making music. (Mind you, he does it his way, kind of old-school style, so the show info also serves solely as the imagery).
Granted, Tim Lampinen, Davin Brainard and Michael Segal, also featured here, are not exactly newbies. But their art is too relevant to not be included. Lampinen, in particular, deserves acknowledgment for a prolific output of mind-cramping collages that continue to herald the flier format.
These prints share space now on utility poles, bulletin boards and in the windows of record shops (what few are left). As just one facet of the synergistic relationship between rock and visual art, this promotional material is ephemeral by nature. As a result, it drifts far too easily into the recesses of our consciousness. But it's out there, a weekly rotating exhibition of hilarious, outrageous, stunning art. Which is why it's time to spotlight a small sampling of what may have been missed.
Nate Young and Alivia Zivich, Michael Segal and Dean Western