cringing at reminders of the adventurous

by Art Chantry (

so far as i know, his is the only surviving copy of the poster i made for my very first showing of my ‘work’ in a gallery space. it dates back to (i think) 1977 and is a two-man show in the VU gallery (‘viking union’ – the student union building) on WWU (western washington university) campus. it was curated by my old friend, steve ahlbom (now a noted seattle graphic designer). it was in the middle of summer. so, nobody actually saw it.

AC:it's funny to see most of my posters from back then. you can see i'm figuring out what i wanted to do. punk hadn't quite clobbered me yet. i was into dada and graphic design. most of my posters still had my DRAWINGS on them. i used to draw so well. i don't think i've actually DRAWN much of anything in 30 years.

by this point, i was already making a living designing lots of posters and logos and letterheads and such. basically anything a student could pick up and make a buck at. i was making a living (i paid my way through college) doing graphic design – literally before i even knew what the term was. i ‘discovered’ the word ‘graphics’ in a school library magazine section. in 1973, i checked out an issue of Graphis magazine because it had an article about polish posters. the words ‘graphic design’ kept popping up. so, i figured out through context that i was doing graphic design as well. such was my ‘formal’ education.

this was a two-man show alongside a batik artist named jerry gilmore. a fellow student, i was deeply impressed with how he could take that otherwise exhausted ‘old hippie’ technique (in the 1970′s) of batik and control it so beautifully that he was actually doing images and illustrations with it. considering it was a dye-resist technique, it seemed a miracle he could do what he was doing (at least to me.) so, when he and i were given the gallery, it was an odd match-up on the surface – big batik ‘paintings’ and a bunch of cruddy little posters for student events, theater and bad local music. but, it was all so graphic and illustrative that it turned out to be a nice pairing.

i did the poster for the show (of course). but to incorporate jerry’s wonderful batik imagery, i approached it as a ‘silkscreened batik’ image. this thing you see is a small poster (about 12×17) and is silkscreened on a torn piece of ‘painter’s canvas’. the image you see is actually a reproduction of one of jerry’s actual batik images, but hand-cut with an exacto knife out of that orange colored silkscreen stencil material (i was very fluid with a stencil knife back in those days). i really wanted it to look just like a gooey wax-resist image like batik. i failed, of course. but, it’s close enough to be a halfway point between my hard-line graphic posters and the organic fluid appearance of batik to be a mutant frankensteining of the two.

the lettering is all stencil cut. the colors are badly mixed black and blue background with red and orange inks (to make it all look like flowing batik colors). i was very pleased with it at the time. i thought the idea of printing it on clothe was particularly fun – i’d never seen that done before (at least at that point in my ‘career’). i can’t remember if i printed it myself (i was doing some actual silkscreen printing back then) or if it was done by somebody else (this was over 30 years ago.)

i used to have a small roll of these things in my storage. but over the dozens of moves i’ve made over the ensuing years, it all disappeared. i assume it’s gone forever. i only have this one single copy left. just as well. i look at this and cringe when i examine it. but, it’s a nice reminder of my adventurous thinking back when i was young and willing to try just about anything.


AC: i didn’t really see any difference between dada (which i was really deeply studying at the time) and punk. it was sorta like dada had suddenly popped up on telephone poles all over the world overnight…. back then, i saw punk as “us”. basically all the dumb kids that were too young to be hippies, didn’t have a shot at any of the cool jobs because they had all been taken by baby boomers, could never be first in anything because the hippies beat us to it. all we had was drug addiction, STD’s, expensive rent and gas shortages, th

my and alcoholism to look forward to. punk was a celebration of ‘us’ and a place of freedom of losers and trash like us. it was salvation for the dark underbelly ignored by the mainstream world. and that was beautiful….i was too old and too straight for the punks. i was too drunk and too punk for the straights….


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