Newsstands as these highly individual, cluttered points of information in a personal dialogue with the street have almost totally disappeared from New York City. A huge reason was the raising of annual vendor fees from the hundreds to the thousands in the 1990s, and the replacing of the old booths that reflected the characters who maintained them with new, uniform glass and metal boxes. One of these old newsstands was Petrella’s Point run by Adam Petrella for 30 years at Bowery and Canal Street, and although it was removed in 2004, this past weekend an artist-run newsstand popped-up to bring back its spirit.
AA Bronson, the internationally recognized artist and former president of New York’s Printed Matter artist-book store, is currently in LA to launch the first ever LA Art Book Fair at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary space in downtown LA. Bronson, who is also the director of the NY Art Book Fair, says he’s been thinking about an LA companion to the popular New York fair for about three years now.
To my pleasant surprise this weekend, while going about my business I was stopped by several New Yorkers, from various walks of life, all advertising information about the Occupy Wall Street protests. Occupy Wall Street seem to be on the top of everyone’s mind these days or at least the tips of their tongues. Indeed, the spreading protests all over the country seem to harness a certain discontent present but aimless in the public unconsciousness. Love them or hate them, there is definitely a public zeitgeist surrounding the whole thing. Visiting the goings on downtown I was reminded of the power and necessity of cheaply produced posters, pamphlets and broadsides and their relationship to organized resistance. With thoughts of protest and grass roots organization I happened onto the newest show at Boo Hooray Gallery on Canal Street in Chinatown.
This past June, artist and curator Aimee Lusty took over as Booklyn’s gallery director. Lusty proposed a program that promotes artists primarily working in print: each show she curated would include print artists showing fine art work, and each show would result in a zine catalogue with contributions and samples from every artist (a concept us at Hyperallergic are familiar with). Hunter/Gatherer, Booklyn’s most recent exhibit, features artists Evan Roberts, Jason Kachadourian, Jessica Williams, Jon Bocksel and Scott Meyers.
Screaming Females are one of those bands who are just that good; they have an unwavering idea about who they are and what they want to do, have worked relentlessly to get where they are and have retained their weirdo aesthetic throughout. In the past two years, the band has gained the attention of indie icons like Henry Rollins and Jay Mascis, and they have played to huge auditoriums and basements alike, sharing the stage with bands like Dinosaur Jr., Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and Yo La Tengo as well as dozens of local musicians just starting out. The band doesn’t stop at concerts either — on March 30th, Screaming Females teamed up with frontwoman Marissa Paternoster and LNY’s new art collective, called Doodle Drag, for a multimedia show at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey.
In addition to a thriving street art practice that includes putting hearts and cute doodle faces on everything from farm silos to city walls, artist Chris Uphues also makes little printed goods. This week, we’re checking out two of Uphues’ zines as well as a selection of day-glo colored hearts printed on stiff cardboard stock. Kind of like a warped version of a kindergarten bulletin board, these little mementos are sweet but not without their creepy side. A zine made up on Uphues’ doodles on paint chip cards, ranging from pink to yellow to green, blue and purple, has more than a few scenes of freaky psychedelia, a softer version of Kenny Scharf’s zaniness.
Birdsong is a collective of artists, writers, printmakers and publishers, but it’s also a zine press, and it’s also a cultural moment. You may have noticed editor-in-chief Tommy Pico’s place on the L Magazine’s “Young New Yorkers Who Are Better Than You” feature. Self-consciously confessional, diaristic and young, the pieces and creators that make up the latest two editions of Birdsong the bimonthly zine (numbers 13 and 14) might have a hipster sheen, but what makes them worth reading is their desire to go past the slick surface, an unwillingness to be superficial. Birdsong boasts a solid heart of dedicated writing, drawing and thinking, and it’s this thoughtful center that makes the short zines worth picking up.