Saving Signs

June 29 – September 9, 2018


Saving Signs is an exhibition of found and saved signs by artists, by children, and by non-artists selected from a personal collection of printed, hand-scribbled, and handmade notices. Each registers a singular moment in art or everyday life. In no particular order, these include: an early, 1966 screen printed sign announcing a previously unregistered appearance by Warhol with the Velvet Underground: this surprising, fan-made placard was nevertheless inscribed from Warhol to Sterling Morrison (who saved it); a 1934 anti-fascist sign by John Heartfield; a 1971 poster gleefully announcing the grand opening of Gordon Matta-Clark’s restaurant Food; a 1982 chalk drawing by Keith Haring removed from Times Square; a 1979 The Clash poster announcing 50p tickets for a Christmas Day concert in a tiny venue in Ladbroke Grove, sparsely attended, due to this last-minute announcement.

These ephemeral signs share the stage with insistent quotidian, non-art signs. Many are by children:  an anonymous Newport Vermont child’s chalk doodling on an erasable slate, circa 1905; (preserved, it sits next to Keith Haring’s chalk drawing); scrawled signs of apology; drawn signals of love; torn and threatening portents of anger; hard-to-read cries of anguish. Signs by adults include an ad hominem attack sign left on a parked car, but also an artist friend’s sign of joyful thanks written after a memorable dinner party.  A sign found in an actual museum reads: “The Gallery of Conscience is Closed”; a notice from Los Angeles implores: “Fix Your Accent”. A stenciled-and-spray painted cardboard placard in all-caps insists “SHE WON.” 

Picasso famously said: “All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” Saving Signs might be an allegory about the wisdom of commemorating this homily, and of paying attention to the ways we do—and don’t—hold onto specific signals.  What signs are urgent? What signs do we value?  What signs do we collect? What signs are worth saving?  

© Todd Alden 2018

Signs/works by: Anonymous, John Heartfield, Rachel Foullon, Anonymous, Keith Haring, Anonymous, Claes Oldenburg, Anonymous, Jenny Holzer, Tania Bagan, Barbara Kruger, Anonymous, Anonymous, Ian Cooper, Ruby Sky Stiler (with Daniel Gordon), Sara Greenberger-Rafferty, Randy Moore, Daniel Corrigan/The Replacements, Anonymous, Luciane, Roy Lichtenstein, Wallace Berman, Richard Sharpe Shaver, Anonymous, Anonymous, Moe, Anonymous, Gordon Matta-Clark et. al. (Food), Guy de Cointet, Mike, Anonymous/The Clash, Anonymous, Rick Moody, James Lee Byars, Olivia & Gabby, Keiso, and Jeff Gibson.