February 23, 2013
ForYourArt hosted an opening reception for an exhibition of works produced by or with the Colby Poster Printing Company, curated by Jan Tumlir, with Christopher Michlig and Brian Roettinger. In the Good Name of the Company presented works by Kathryn Andrews, Scott Benzel, Peter Coffin, Sam Durant, Eve Fowler, Emilie Halpern, Imprenta, Simon Johnston, Christopher Michlig, Brian Roettinger, Allen Ruppersberg, Ed Ruscha, and many more alongside a representative selection of posters from Colby’s own archive.
Typically employed to promote neighborhood events such as street fairs, small-scale musical concerts and the like, they would find a new clientele when Ed Ruscha contracted a rival company in 1962 to produce the announcement for the exhibition New Paintings of Common Objects at the Pasadena Art Museum. Since then, the Colby Poster Printing Company has gone on to serve as an important resource to a broad range of LA-based artists, from Allen Ruppersberg (who transcribed Allen Ginsberg’s Howl onto Colby posters in 2003) to Eve Fowler (who did much the same with Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons in 2012).
Colby has provided artists with a means to escape the confines of the studio or the white cube. Instead, through the poster medium, artists could engage the life of the street. As such, their posters became a form of public art perfectly suited to the LA context with its inherent transience and disposability. In one way or another, the artists featured in this exhibition have used the poster as a means to shape our experience of the street and the city.
About the Colby Poster Printing Company
The Los Angeles based Colby Poster Printing Company has long been a friend to local artists. Their fluorescent posters have been disseminated on every available high-traffic-adjacent surface in the city. Their extensive collection of over 150 wood and metal typefaces, usually bold and generally san serif, are by now an integral part of the visual aesthetic of Los Angeles. Throughout the years, posters promoting everything from west coast punk and heavy metal concerts in the 1980s to swap meets, street fairs, gun and bridal shows, local political campaigns, and too many artist projects to mention have been printed on Colby’s restless Heidelberg letterset press. A family owned and operated union print shop since 1948, the Colby Poster Printing Company closed its doors forever on December 31, 2012.
Read Jan Tumler’s essay to find out more about the Colby Poster Printing Company.
For more photos of the exhibition and opening, click here.