Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Art of Sign Painting: Dan Giddings

From time to time I like to pay tribute on out blog to the now nearly extinct craft of sign painting (for instance: see our post dated April 5 2013).

This month in the San Geronimo Valley Community Center's Del Mue Gallery we're hosting an exhibit by a master sign painter--Dan Giddings.

Dan made this signage especially for the show
Dan Giddings, now retired, is a native of Marin County. Dan and his wife, Joanne, have lived in Forest Knolls since 1957. Dan grew up in Corte Madera and Larkspur and majored in advertising art at the College of Marin in 1952. Later he joined a leading Marin sign firm and spent five years in a union apprenticeship.

Dan has worked on signs on windows, boats, trucks and exterior walls of buildings. He was required to be proficient working in a vast array of mediums including with wood, metal, gold leaf along with carved, sand-blasted and routed signage.  He ran his Marin based sign painting shop for 40 years.

Dan painted this Lucas Valley Milk ad on the side of the Lagunitas Deli in the village of Lagunitas many decades ago.

Lagunitas, Marin county
Dan refers to such faded remnants as ‘wall ghosts’. Almost no one hand-paints signs anymore. The profession has given way to computer generated sign making ‘systems’ that cut letters out of sheets of vinyl.

Dan Giddings work has been “exhibited” on public surfaces all over northern California for decades. He has also exhibited in the Senior Lunch Group Art Show and at the Bohemian Club.

Here’s his work for show and a couple of shots from the reception.

Lisa and Dan Giddings chatting athe reception
Joanne Giddings and friend
Classic old school hand painted lettering

Reverse lettering painted on glass
Hand painted boat lettering

Joanne is wearing a T-shirt drawn by Dan
Close-up: Drawn for an abalone group

You can see an interview with Dan about his career on the Marin TV program “Seriously Now” at:

(His interview starts about 19 minutes into the program)

More on the art and craft of sign painting. There's a great new documentary on the subject at:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Glimpse at the APE

This weekend I attended the Alternative Press Expo (aka APE). This year it was held at Ft. Mason along the Marina in San Francisco. An ideal setting for the event. Over the years, APE has presented a slew of often fascinating alternative books, comics and prints. In the past I recall seeing more adventuresome projects (involving letterpress chapbooks, hand sewn binding, screenscreen covers, art books and many aesthetic surprises). Of late that seems to have given way to a more small entrepreneur approach--less wacky and experimental but still pretty exciting.

I always come away with a lot of paper. Here are a few scraps from APE 2014:

Here's just one page from illustrator Mike Lee's book Bodega. The drawings in Bodega are all in pencil   (My first take was they must be digital art). 

For more about this excellent illustrator check out www. mlee. us

 A card announcing a new book by Veronica Graham and Jesse Eisenhower.

A digital print and business card by Yoshi Yoshitani. (Thanks to Val for the print).

A postcard of the mural Whole Cluster by Koak. (The 10 x 12 ft. chalk mural is at the Terroir wine bar on Folsom St. in San Francisco).

Here are a few business cards.

New business card by the talented Josh Ellingson

Veteran cartoonist and illustrator Rick Geary

Here's Vincent Kukua, R.R. Werner and  Jose Moreno.

Avy Jetter

Monstark otherwise known as Mark Thompson.

Here's some monstrous art from his new mini comic Hybrid Moments.

Veronica Graham and Jesse Eisenhower.

Louis M. Brill

Sushu Xia creator of China Comics

The Drink and Draw group.

I attended only one panel talk this year: Robert Williams, painter, Zap cartoonist and founding father of
Juxtapoz magazine.

There were lots (and lots) of young creative artists at APE but I somehow managed to hang out with the old timers like Al Gordon, Bruce Simon and Mark Badger.

Here's comic book artist Al Gordon channeling Steve Ditko.

Seriuosly talented artist and teacher, Mark Badger, has worked on all manner of comic book projects but is currently working on an adaption of Bill Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

He also created this remarkable Abstract Kirby (as in Jack Kirby).

Underground cartoonist Bruce Simon (People Are Phony, Mindshaft) and Mark Badger.

Unfortunately, this is APE's last year in San Francisco. It will be moving to San Jose (and according to current rumors will be scaled down). We will see.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

11th Annual Roadworks

Yesterday, Molly and I  attended the 11th annual Roadworks. It's a fundrasier for the San Francisco Center for the Book.  SFCB promotes and supports book arts--letterpress printing, book binding and the creation of artists' books.

The Roadworks event is always interesting. Aside from the opportunity to watch a huge and classic Buffalo Springfield steamroller 'press' a 3 foot square blockprint onto paper right in the middle of Rhode Island Street, the event offers a chance to meet printmakers and purchase prints.

Here are a few snaps from the day.

Inking a 3 foot square block

After the print was made, printing assistants hung the prints on nearby fencing. Here is a great Godzilla-destroys-San Francisco print by Eric Rewitzer.

A print by Richard Wagener

A beautifully abstracted piece by Luz Marina Ruiz.

Here are a couple more Godzilla pieces from Eric Rewitzer's booth.

Inside the Center for the Book you can check out the fine collection of operational presses.
This one, a Reliance Midget, used to belong to printer Arlin Philpott, our Fairfaxian neighbor.

There were few more large prints from past events on display inside.

Paul Madonna

Art Hazelwood

Rigel Stuhmiller

Kathy Aoki

Two prints by Daniel Gonzalez

All artworks copyright by respective artists

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Larry's Vault: Joseph Clement Coll

One of the finest pen and ink illustrators of the first half of the 20th century, hands-down, was Joseph Clement Coll.  Few people today have much familiarity with using a pen dipped in India ink. The look of a pen and ink drawing is never truly duplicated by any form of contemporary marking pen available today. In his day, Coll was one of the masters of the form.

From the Vault, here's an article on Coll from the December 1950 issue of American Artist.


Fortunately, Coll has not been entirely forgotten. 
A few years ago Flesk Publicatons published this collection of Coll's work,
Joseph Clement Coll: The Art of Adventure.