Bumbershoot poster show crosses Russian, U.S. cultures
The Moscow-Seattle Poster Show at Bumbershoot features more than 70 posters from Moscow and Seattle — all with cultural themes (dance, theater, music, film).
Seattle Times arts critic
Seattle-Moscow Poster Show
Free public preview noon-7 p.m. Friday. Runs at Bumbershoot Sat.-Mon. in the Shaw Room of the Northwest Rooms at Seattle Center. (www.seattlemoscow.com/posters.html or www.bumbershoot.org). Curator Daniel Smith will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday at Adobe, 801 N. 34th St., Seattle; $15 in advance for public, $20 day of talk; (aigaseattle.org).
The two eye-catching posters both advertise rock-music events. They both employ bright pastel colors and use retro images from the 1950s and '60s (partying teens, a reel-to-reel tape recorder).
But look closely and you'll see one has Russian words, the other only English type, because they were created on two continents: one in Moscow by designer Andrey Sendzyuk, the other in Seattle by local artist Johann Gomez.
They'll both be on display during Bumbershoot in the fascinating Seattle-Moscow Poster Show at the Seattle Center.
Curated by another Seattle poster artist, Daniel R. Smith, the show features more than 70 works from Moscow and Seattle — all with cultural themes (dance, theater, music, film).
The exhibit (which will later tour) is the culmination of a three-part, international poster program that earlier matched the work of Seattle poster artists with that of counterparts in Tehran, Iran, and Havana, Cuba.
Humans began communicating long ago by drawing, painting and carving images on various materials and affixing them to trees, rocks and walls for public viewing. But it wasn't until high-volume lithography printing was perfected in the late 1800s that posters became prime advertising and political tools.
Leading up to its 1917 revolution and early decades as a Bolshevik state, Russia was a hotbed of poster art — much of it generated as propaganda, at the behest of Communist leader Vladimir Lenin. Thousands of vibrantly partisan images were created and disseminated on placards.
Aimed at the masses, they now are traded in the international art market and displayed in museum shows.
For Bumbershoot, Smith looked to today's leading post-Communist Russian poster artists, much influenced (like their U.S. peers) by such forces as modern advertising and street art.
In the online guide to the show, Smith places posters by Moscow designers and such Seattleites as Brad Kleinsmith, Michael Strassburger and Chelsea Conboy side by side, to play off contrasts and accent similarities in color, type styles, and photo and drawn images.
In a curator's statement, Smith notes the current art posters in Moscow — a highly cosmopolitan, art-savvy city of more than 10 million people — are looking ahead, not back.
They are "not bound by any uniting philosophy to work for or against," he writes, "no impenetrable barriers of censorship exist, nor limits on information or political pitfalls to navigate."
They value experimentation and cross-cultural pollination, he stresses, and are influenced equally "by the work of Russian Constructivists" and "New York City graffiti artists of the '80s."
Misha Berson: email@example.com
Information in this article, originally published Sept. 2, 2009, was corrected the same day. In a previous version of this story two poster artists' names were misspelled; Jeff Kleinsmith and Andrey Sendzyuk.
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