Air-brushed lion’s head by Chris Seckler, scanned from from Air-brushing Techniques for Custom Painting Vol. II, by Badger Air Brush Co. and Carl Caiati, Franklin Park, IL, 1981.
Public Collectors is founded upon the concern that there are many types of cultural artifacts that public libraries, museums and other institutions and archives either do not collect or do not make freely accessible. Public Collectors asks individuals that have had the luxury to amass, organize, and inventory these materials to help reverse this lack by making their collections public.
This page consists of sample findings and excerpts. It is also an account of the contents of my home and digital files from my camera. If you have suggestions, have a collection you want to share, or are in Chicago and would like to see something in person, please contact me. This blog is intended as a casual, more personal supplement to the main Public Collectors website.
Public Collectors is maintained by Marc Fischer.
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"Close Encounter" van art by Shelby Goode, scanned from from Air-brushing Techniques for Custom Painting Vol. II, by Badger Air Brush Co. and Carl Caiati, Franklin Park, IL, 1981.
"This is a confirmation that we have received your approval to print."
After generating possibly the biggest pile of hardcopy rough drafts of my life, the booklet version of my essay on Malachi Ritscher for Public Collectors’ participation in the 2014 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art is going to print today. And of course I already noticed one tiny thing I could have adjusted in the spacing, so I’m going to try not to look at or think about this thing until I get to New York. There will be 10,000 copies of this 16-page booklet for visitors to take for free. Here is some more information about the project for those who missed earlier posts.
If you are in Chicago, Public Collectors will have a small selection of objects (including the above card and more from this Forming Sounds set) at Lovely Bake Shop on 1130 North Milwaukee, from February 14-20th. There’s a reception from 5:00-7:00 PM on the 14th. Here are some more details about the show.
Kilroy Was And/Or Was Not Here (and so are you)
Public Art As Correspondence “A series of visual stories communicating through product design, installations, typography and sculpture. Designs that use smells acquainting nostalgia positioned at a pop-up gallery inside a bakery. Typographic installations that will illuminate forms of communication that is beyond language. Endearing and quirky entendres expressed in fantastical forms. Pieces that engage the audience in a familiar and welcoming space of a bakery through sight and smell. Curated by Tori Terizakis (BFA 2008) with essay by Stamps faculty Seth Ellis. Participants include Stamps faculty Roland Graf + Assocreation and Seth Ellis, alumni Ben Van Dyke (MFA 2006) and Mallory Baran (BFA 2011), John Kannenberg (MFA 2012) current MFA candidate Mia Cinelli and Chicago initiative Public Collectors and Lambchop.
Unsane - “Vandal-X” / “Streetsweeper” 7”, Sub Pop, 1990. I have always loved this record, since it came out, but I never picked up a copy back in the day and then sort of forgot about trying to find it. Finally I scored a copy in a cheap lot on eBay, along with two other early Unsane 7“‘s. Compared to other Sub Pop Singles Club records, this one glaringly stood out for its horrific cover art, skillfully executed by Jens Jurgensen. The version of “Vandal-X” is much better on this record than the one that appears on Unsane’s later full length S/T LP on Matador.
Unsane / Slug - split 7”, PCP Entertainment, 1992. I love all of Unsane’s early 7” records and this split with the band Slug, where the bands covered each other’s songs, is no exception. Finally picked up a copy recently, along with two other early Unsane 7“‘s I was missing. The graphic design is extra authoritative here.
Corrupted - “Dios Injusto” (Unfair God) 7”, 1999, Frigidity Discos, Japan. I was extra happy to find a copy (second pressing) of this great record today. A longtime want, filled at last. You can hear this on Youtube. Super crushing power!
I’ve never explored product packaging much on this blog but this sushi-making contraption I picked up today is worth scanning for its delightful graphic showing how to make anthropomorphic sushi. The sushi in the photo certainly doesn’t look nearly as face-like as the drawing but that’s okay. The thing works great, even though $6.99 is a little steep for what it is. Hopefully I’ll be using it for many years to come.
One of the highlights of my quick trip to Los Angeles for the L.A. Art Book Fair was receiving this fantastic gift from Dale Johnson. Like me, Dale has been self-publishing since the late 1980s. We met online through a friend and he passed along a big pile of ‘zines to me for free—many of which I have scanned the covers of and posted. Last week in Los Angeles, we got to meet in person and he gifted me yet another pile of ‘zines—about 25 booklet-format publications, mostly from the late 1980s and early 90s. I look forward to scanning and sharing a bunch of these. Big thanks to Dale for his generosity and thoughtful dispersal of the things he no longer has space for!
Some of you may know that I’m also a member of the group Temporary Services and that we have a publishing imprint called Half Letter Press. Generally I allow things from the Half Letter Press tumblr to have their own separate life, but this was a big moment for our group, and for me personally, that I’d like to share with all of you.
This rather unexceptional photo depicts something that for us, is quite extraordinary.
One of Temporary Services’ best known projects is Prisoners’ Inventions. In 2003, WhiteWalls published the book Prisoners’ Inventions, written and illustrated by our collaborator Angelo—an incarcerated artist from California. Angelo illustrated many incredible inventions made by prisoners to fill needs that the restrictive environment of prison tries to suppress. The inventions cover everything from homemade sex dolls, condoms, and salt and pepper shakers to chess sets and electrical cooking devices. Working with Angelo entirely through the mail, as well as many other collaborators on the outside, we created an exhibition that traveled to multiple cities, worked with fabricators who used Angelo’s drawings to build a life-size copy of his prison cell, and received a great deal of critical and media attention for the ongoing project.
Angelo, however, had never seen a copy of his own book. Either a worker in the prison mail room stole it when we sent him one, or the book was prohibited because it depicts objects that are contraband to possess.
Marc Fischer from Temporary Services first met Angelo when Angelo wrote him a letter and included a drawing back in around 1991. Angelo had seen his cellmate’s copy of Fischer’s old music and political fanzine Primary Concern. When Temporary Services formed in 1998, Angelo became an early collaborator—first on an exhibition of his narrative fantasy drawings, and later on the project Prisoners’ Inventions. All this time, none of us had ever met Angelo in person or even spoken to him on the phone. There is no internet access in prison so all communications for this project and all else happened through the mail.
After nearly a quarter of a century behind bars, Angelo was released recently and after speaking to him on the phone for the first time a little over a week ago, Marc was able to visit him in Los Angeles. A bit from Marc about the visit:
"Some friends have asked if there was anything surprising about finally meeting Angelo. His personality was pretty much just as I expected it would be from our hundreds of letters: pleasant, calm, respectful, and not overly dramatic. He has an enjoyable sense of humor and a highly alert mind. Angelo is nearing 70 years old but looks very good physically for a guy that loves snack foods and hates vegetables. He attributes his good health to not smoking, drinking or doing drugs, and walking a lot. He applied for a library card and has been catching up on history books that he’s been wanting to read forever but couldn’t find while in prison. The only real surprise was his hair, which Angelo described as kind of a Wild Bill Hickok look, but I think it’s a bit beyond that. With big combed mutton chops and a long mustache that covers almost his entire mouth, he looks like he might have just stepped out of the Wild West, which, after so many years in the California Department of Corrections, he really has."
Angelo also brought gifts that he thought we might enjoy: an excellent-looking anthology of writings by prisoners that he hung onto until he was released, and two clothing items saved from a stretch in Administrative Segregation: a pair of slippers that are made from an awful cardboard-like material, and a pair of disposable underwear that feels like like it is made from paper.
The transition of returning to society after so many years behind bars is clearly a gradual one, but for now we are happy that Angelo is out and getting acclimated to the very different world he has been released into. We look forward to continued communication with him in a more direct way, and to getting the book Prisoners’ Inventions back in print as soon as we can.