Please check out Intersection for the Arts’ online store for the Broadside Attractions | Vanquished Terrains exhibition HERE!

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The Broadside in the Art Realm by Mirsha Heredia

Here at Intersection, we are spoiled with an insanely talented and brilliant cast of interns. We love that they come in with their own passions and ideas and enhance our work in all kinds of ways. Mirsha Heredia is one of these bright individuals who has been a valuable energy in our visual arts & gallery programs. She sunk into the Broadsides Attractions | Vanquished Terrains work with wide eyes and we’re proud to have her share some insights on her own research on the legacy of these ephemeral pieces of history. -Intersection for the Arts

[The curators/artists/writers of Broadside Attractions have been very spoiled and blessed to have the opportunity to work with Intersection for the Arts!!! - THANK YOU!!]
The Broadside in the Art Realm by Mirsha Heredia

When I first began researching the history of broadsides for Kevin Chen I quickly concluded that they were simply archaic posters that were slowly becoming obsolete. Soon after, though, I realized that graphic design and advertising owe much of their aesthetics to the rich legacy of the broadside. Broadsides are definitely not as popular today, but their impact on the literary and art worlds is still incredibly significant.

As printing technologies and public spaces evolve, the broadside struggles to remain relevant. Broadsides were originally created to publicize news and events through few images and densely packed text, but often also involved cartoons, poems and lyrics. Prior to the magazine era, the broadside was the most popular type of advertisement. Before paperbacks, pocket books, pamphlets and the Internet there was the broadside,but unlike these other visual forms of advertising, the broadside was intended to be discarded almost as quickly as it took to produce.

Because of their practical use and textual element, broadsides were never intended to rise to the level of fine art. In the late 19th century, however, Art Nouveau artists first appropriated the broadside to market goods and to promote theatrical entertainment, but later transformed it into an affordable, collectible art form. Henry Van De Velde and Alphonse Mucha brought prestige to the broadside and essentially elevated it to the level of fine art by incorporating dynamic, colorful illustrations along with minimal text. What began as largely text-based, simple sheets of paper evolved into highly sophisticated works of art.

Even before the computer age, the broadside returned to its original simplicity in a sense. During the mid-20th century, the broadside became more graphic and reductive; the Constructivists and Minimalists’ work being perfect examples. The broadband did not become as plain and definitely not as unsophisticated as it was historically, but its aesthetic moved away from embellishment and more towards bold, pure, minimal forms.

As urban and public spaces become more dense, space becomes less available for displaying broadsides. Although not obsolete, broadsides are much less prevalent today because posters, graphic design, film, television and the Internet constantly compete with them for public space. Broadside Attractions: Vanquished Terrains commemorates the history of printed materials and plays with the literary and visual elements of the broadside.

Mirsha Heredia is a Junior at California College of the Arts, where she is majoring in Visual Studies. Originally from Southern California, Mirsha has studied in Santa Barbara and New York and now lives in Oakland. She is currently a Gallery and Education intern at Intersection for the Arts and also contributes to outreach and the online shop. She works with ceramics, jewelry, sculpture and metals, and enjoys sewing, crafting, knitting and crocheting. Mirsha loves the outdoors and traveling and spends her free time hiking, camping and swimming. While a maker, Mirsha also has a passion for writing, theory and art history.

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Before the meme, the pandora station ads, QR codes, and email marketing…EVEN BEFORE the billboard, bansky, or club flyers….there was the BROADSIDE.
- Intersection for the Arts

Closer to what we see on Haight Street, the light posts clad with homemade printed flyers for DJ nights and band performances stapled on to death. These can pass as the modern broadside. Broadsides historically have been defined as a large sheet of paper printed on one side and designed to be plastered onto walls in heavily trafficked public areas to announce events, proclamations, or news through visually bold and concise messaging.

Broadsides were first introduced in England, they became a prime means of communication and the most common form of printed material in the early days of the U.S. before newspapers. In addition to announcements, advertisements, and commentaries, broadsides also came to feature cartoons, poems, and song lyrics. A famous example is the Dunlap broadside, the first publication of the U.S. Declaration of Independence printed on the night of July 4, 1776 by John Dunlap of Philadelphia in an estimated 200 copies. Over time, artists and writers began to embrace the format and structure of the broadside, working with printers and publishers to create limited edition multiples of their work, oftentimes a short written piece accompanied by an illustration depicting the essence of the writing. During the 20th Century in the U.S., Harlem Renaissance, Concrete, and Beat writers all claimed the broadside as a below-the-radar way to get their work out onto the streets.


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Freedom of the Press!

The Mighty Little Press behind the
Broadside Attractions | Vanquished Terrains Exhibit
– Intersection for the Arts

Admit it, in the era of soft copies and kindles, who knows what a “Broadside” is anymore? And maybe if you do, you probably are a designer or printer (or ephemera geeks like us), right?

Once upon a time, there was the press. The true O.G. in the printing game, that once was tasked to print the night away of news of wars starting and ending, assassinations, marriages, and county fairs. These beautiful buffalo-like beasts of a press are still productive, revered and respected today in the careful confines of private boutique shops and some very-specialized industrial printing houses. Meet Lisa Rappoport of Littoral Press, a keeper of tradition.

Intersection for the Arts had the honor of having Lisa’s talents for the Broadside Attractions | Vanquished Terrains Exhibit (Apr 11-May 26), where she and her trusty Vandercook cylinder press produced the traditional-style broadsides for the 12 pairs of artists.

One fine Friday afternoon, we got down at Littoral Press in West Oakland. In the presence of these machines and their maestra, we were in awe. Here’s a little vid and tribute to the work behind letterpress.

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The exhibition will be up:
APRIL 11 – MAY 26, 2012
925 Mission Street, Suite 109,
San Francisco, CA 94103

OPENING RECEPTION   Wednesday April 11, 7-9pm, FREE
MEMBERS VIP RECEPTION   Wednesday April 11, 6-7pm,
GALLERY & COMMUNITY HOURS   Tuesdays – Saturdays, 12-6pm

Group reading with writers in the exhibition Saturday, April 21, 2012, 2pm, FREE
Group reading with writers in the exhibition Saturday, April 28, 2012, 2pm, FREE
Reading list exploring how we share information provided by The San Francisco Public Library.

Printing The Future In collaboration with Community Partners Oasis for Girls, WritersCorps, ReAllocate, and TechShop, a 10-week screenprinting, public art, and writing workshop for young women that explores positive change in our communities.

Broadside Attractions | Vanquished Terrains takes inspiration from the historical broadside and reflects on contemporary events and culture using the theme of “vanquished terrains” as a point of departure. Historically the broadside has been defined as a large sheet of paper printed on one side and designed to be plastered onto walls in public areas to announce events, proclamations, or news. Before newspapers, magazines, and the internet, there was the broadside.

Organized in collaboration with curators Megan Wilson and Maw Shein Win, this project is part of Intersection’s larger exploration of language, place, and storytelling that pays homage to the history of printed matter, highlights cross-disciplinary work between artists and writers, and embraces a 21st Century reinterpretation of one of the original forms of public communication.
- Kevin Chen, Program Director: Visual Arts, Literary & Jazz at Intersection

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