(Re)Learning Our ABC’s At the Pasadena Museum of California Art


While the upcoming show on street art at MOCA is getting all the hype, the curators at the Pasadena Museum of California Art are quietly mounting an exhibition also inspired by the “illegibility and deconstructive nature of graffiti.” The show, “Getting Upper: Graphic Designers and Artists Reconsider the Alphabet” is an exhibition of 26 artists’ screen printed posters re-imagining a letter of the alphabet.

According to the museum, “the result is an alphabet that reconsiders our collective understanding of what a letter can be and how it functions to create language and meaning.” The artists were challenged to redesign letters without any expectation of legibility, to see how their personal experience might impact the design.
 The show is curated by Amos Klausner, a former director of the San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). He also curated the PMCA exhibition “Edith Heath: Tabletop Modernist.” Each letter is unique, with a diverse alphabet that spans a range of disciplines including street graffiti, graphic design, and typography.

Graphic designers and artists featured in the exhibition include: Martin Venezky, Mike Giant, Rebecca Mendez, Kali Nikitas, Caryn Aono, Gail Swanlund, Eric Adigard, Mark Fox, Bob Aufuldish, Brian Singer, Michael Worthington, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Volume Inc., and more.

F, Keith Knueven

Fortunately, each letter has also been printed as a silk-screen poster, in a limited edition run of 100 per letter. The poster will be available for sale at the museum store and online. The show opens May 14th, with PMCA’s other exhibition on graffit: “Street Cred: Graffiti Art from Concrete to Canvas,” which focuses on local graffiti artists in L.A.

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