Saturday, October 17, 2009

Marc on KRON Best of Bay

Marc appears in a featurette for KRON's Best of Bay for Boulevard Cafe (Daly City) in the "family restaurants" category. I'm in there too, stuffing my face with a wonderful shrimp cocktail. Yummm...

Poplaski Exhibition in Paris

Thanks to Jim Danky, I can share with you these wonderful photos of comic artist Peter Poplaski's exhibition and opening reception at the Galerie 9e Art in Paris. Along with the photos is a 3 page English language article from the Paris Herald-Times which not only provides an excellent account of the show itself, but also who came, what they said, what they drank, what was sold, and what they all had for dinner afterwards. I felt like I was there! Don't miss the slide of the 4 part Marvel Monsters drawing, which was the hit of the show.

Poplaski's latest publication is The Sketchbook Adventures of Peter Poplaski (more info here and here). He also is an expert on Zorro, and there is a YouTube video of him in costume showing a French reporter through an exhibition in Ganges, France (he is talking in English, with a French translation dubbed in). It looks like it was an interesting exhibition, and the video shows close ups of his sketchbooks and other drawings.

Morrie Turner at SFPL

Morrie Turner, Creator of Wee Pals Cartoon: a 45 Year Retrospective, an exhibition produced by the AfroSolo Theatre Company at the San Francisco Public Library (August 15 - October 15, 2009), showed an impressive range of work by this award winning cartoonist. Large display cases clustered in three locations within the library explored not only his best-known work, the Wee Pals comic strip, but also Turner’s Soul Corner panels and the social/political cartoons he created in the 1960’s & 70’s for publications like Black World and Ebony.

Turner, a life-long resident of Oakland, California, was born in 1923. He was a self-taught artist, and some of his first publications were strips he drew for military magazines while serving in WWII. After his service was completed, he continued drawing, supplementing his income with a job as a police clerk.

With the encouragement of Charles Schulz, Turner became a full-time cartoonist in 1964. In 1965, he developed a racially-integrated comic strip called Dinky Fellas that ran in five newspapers, which was renamed Wee Pals. By 1966, Wee Pals could be seen in over 70 newspapers in the US and abroad. The strip gained true nationwide acceptance after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, when it’s publication expanded to over 100 newspapers nationwide, making it the first nationally syndicated racially-integrated comic strip.

The library exhibition, curated by Kheven Legrone, devotes several display cases to Wee Pals. Outside the Children’s Center, on the library’s second floor, two cases featured Wee Pals books and memorabilia, and paintings that were used as background slides for a children’s concert series, A Journey Into Jazz, performed by the Oakland Symphony at the Paramount Theatre. These slides featured portraits of famous jazz musicians, and child characters demonstrating dance moves in different styles. Turner would attend these concerts, sketching the children that attended and giving them the drawings.

The heart of the exhibition, upstairs in the African American Center, focuses on the development of the Wee Pals characters (some based on Turner, his son, grandchildren and friends), his production methods on the Wee Pals strip, and his political cartoons. Many of these single panel “civil rights cartoons” (as Turner called them), drawn with pen, ink and watercolor, found humor in irony. For example, one drawing depicts a White panhandler saying “Thanks, Boy” to a wealthy Black gentleman that had just deposited a dollar in his cup (Turner says this really happened to him). Also featured in this part of the exhibition was a series of cartoons Turner created in 1969, when he was invited with five other cartoonists by the National Cartoonist Society to travel to Vietnam to entertain the troops. He spent twenty-seven days on the front lines and in hospitals sketching more than 3,000 caricatures of service people.

Turner’s drawings for the Sunday Soul Corner panels were prominently displayed in the third floor main lobby. These drawings, originally meant to fill up the "drop out panel" in Turner's Sunday strips, illustrate the accomplishments of famous persons of color.

Turner (shown in conversation with Belva Davis at the SFPL 11/15/09) still lives in Oakland in the house his father bought in 1941, and continues to reach out to children through small cartooning classes and guest lectures at schools. Turner’s life was the subject of the 2001 documentary, Keeping the Faith with Morrie, produced by Angel Harper for Heaven Sent Productions Inc.

Griscom Gets a Rave!

SF photographer Tom Griscom's labor landmarks photos recently got a rave review on Jen Bekmen's Hey Hot Shot blog. Tom started this body of work while we were both finishing up our programs at San Francisco State, which sort of culminated in the Syndicate collaboration with the Labor Archives at SFSU for Bay Area Now 5. Some of this work has also been included in the SFSU 2009 MFA show and as part of Laborfest:Art & Labor Today. Griscom has continued to build on the framework of this narrative and done some beautiful work. To the left is Griscom's photograph of Beale Street in San Francisco.

Griscom has also been assisting photographer David Maisel on his latest series, the X-Ray Project, which is based on x-rays of artwork taken during Maisel's residency at the Getty Research Institute in 2007.