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The National Poster Retrospecticus celebrates the art of gig posters at Radford University
In a college environment, posters are often the quintessential motif determining the design of many dorm rooms. But posters are so much more than this, especially hand-printed ones – they are an art form in their own right.
Radford University Art Museum promotes this idea with the National Poster Retrospecticus (NPR), a gig and art poster show on exhibition from Sept. 8 to Oct. 7. Some of the most prominent poster designers from North America will have their work on the walls of the museum’s Covington Center location. These include heavy hitters like Aaron Draplin, Jay Ryan, and Daniel Danger.
The NPR is an international traveling show featuring select works from a collection of more than 400 hand-printed posters. It has traveled throughout North America and has shown in venues such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Lego HQ and Adobe Studios. Events like SXSW, MondoCon, and NXNE have hosted it.
“We’ve traveled to big cities all over North America but some of our favorite shows are in smaller towns like Radford,” said JP Boilard, known in the poster world as JP Boneyard, NPR show producer, “The enthusiasm we find at university shows is hard to beat as well. We’ve been looking forward to this show for over a year now!”
When asked about what inspired the idea behind the NPR, Boilard mentions another poster show – the Western Massachusetts Flyer Retrospecticus. This commemorated a DIY venue he and two friends ran from out of a shed in his mother’s backyard in the early to mid 2000s.
“After 100 shows and hosting bands from all over the world we had the idea to celebrate the history of the Shed and DIY in Western Massachusetts,” he said. To promote the shows, the trio had designed and screen printed their own posters.
For their first show they displayed work from a collection of over 1,400 show flyers and gig posters representing thousands of bands and hundreds of different venues. The art spanned over two decades of events. This became the foundation of the NPR, which focuses on gig posters and art prints entirely hand printed via screen printing, stenciling or letterpress.
To clarify, gig posters present, commemorate, and/or promote a music event. Viewers can expect to see a mix of these along with art prints that are all hand printed. All posters are for sale during the opening and closing receptions.
In addition to established artists, the NPR represents up-and-coming printmakers.
Another poster theme the NPR explores is National Parks. The NPR is sponsoring the print series “Fifty-Nine Parks,” celebrating the unique beauty of each park. At Radford, viewers will see the Grand Canyon National Park poster by DKNG.
Boilard will give a talk about the NPR Sept. 8 at 4 p.m. in the Performance Hall of the Covington Center. An opening reception will follow at 5 p.m. The closing reception is Oct. 8 at 5 p.m. At the two receptions, the posters are available for sale. Everyone is welcome to attend. The gallery is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.