Rock, Paper

The documentary American Artifact highlights the history of rock poster art.

For Lindsey Kuhn, graphic design has nothing to do with computers. When the Denver artist started creating rock posters more than a dozen years ago, the process involved the use of real film, hand-cut images, silkscreen presses and lots of bright, bold colors. “When there was splatter, there was real splatter,” says Kuhn. “DIY was how I started doing it, and that’s how I’m still doing it. You have more control. I guess I’m kind of old-school.”

Maybe he’s old-school in the Internet age, when live music is marketed more through MySpace than street space, but the history of rock poster art goes back a long way, and Kuhn is part of just one of its generations. Many of those involved, including Kuhn and Manitou Springs artist Jermaine Rodgers, are featured in a new documentary about the form, American Artifact: The Rise of American Rock Poster Art, which makes its regional premiere tonight at 8 p.m. at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue.

Director Merle Becker spent two years traversing the United States interviewing underground stalwarts of the medium, which began in the 1960s as a way to advertise rock shows. “The only way to get people out to concerts was posters,” Becker explains. “But it was also beautiful art. People were ripping them off the telephone poles and taking them home.”

Becker says that Kuhn helped lead an early-1990s resurgence in the movement in Austin, Texas, while Rogers is one of the most sought-after contemporary poster designers, creating art for acts like Ween and Radiohead. All three will conduct a Q&A following the film. Posters and T-shirts will be available for sale, of course, with music provided by the Omens and Speed Wolf. Doors open at 7 p.m.; tickets are $10. For information, go to www.americanartifactmovie.com.
Fri., July 31, 8 p.m., 2009

 
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