The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft is presenting a collection of an often overlooked art form—the do-it-yourself concert flier.
“The White Glove Test: Louisville Punk Flyers 1978-1994,” which opens this week, will feature a number of posters that were clipped, collaged, meticulously handpainted and lettered—or designed using early versions of desktop publishing software—for concerts featuring Louisville bands such as No Fun, Babylon Dance Band, Squirrel Bait and Slint.
I spoke with the KMAC’s associate curator, Joey Yates, about the collection.
Tell me about the new collection going in here.
So on the first floor we are going to have an exhibit called “The White Glove Test: Louisville Punk Flyers 1978-1994;” at the same time we hope to have the book that this exhibit is celebrating—the book is the same title. And it sort of depicts, or shows the sort of street art that was punk rock advertising.
They were these flyers made on some of the first copiers that people could readily access—you know, before that music advertisement was probably screenprinted, much more of a fine art medium almost. Looking at the rock posters from ’50s and ’60s, they were these beautiful, full-color posters. But the whole DIY aspect of punk and the technology really helped introduce people to this.
Steve Driesler, who was largely the historian and curator for this show, and who wrote some of the accompanying text for the book—he has referred to this as a kind of fugitive form because these musicians and artists created this way of advertising for their shows. There’s even a poster in this collection made on a mimeograph.
What kinds of images can people expect to see?
You know, a lot of these people were artists. Punk bands like No Fun went to the Louisville School of Art, which was around at the time. A lot of original drawings, none of the letters are fonts—some of them may be, but the majority are stenciled or hand drawn.
One of the cool things about the show is you see this evolution in a way. From hand drawn to collaged, where people are putting tape and Wite-Out over magazine letters. Then you’re going to see people using more like clip-art material, into desktop publishing, where people can just create something and print it out without any collage techniques.
How does this collection fit in with the aesthetic of the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft?
It is a sort of folk art, in a way—much like grafitti, these things that that are used to communicate things on the street, trying to communicate to a community to which you belong, ‘Hey, here’s this thing that’s happening.’ It’s a way to create a scene; oftentimes folk artists know each other, and punk rock is very similar.
There’s a shared language, and shared ideals, around which people kind of coalesce and make something. It’s a really neat time to look at in our history to look at as an art and craft.
“The White Glove Test: Louisville Punk Flyers 1978-1994” opens on Feb. 6.