Saturday, July 01, 2006

IT'S OKAY TO SMILE, WE ARE IN AMERICA NOW: The Scott MacLeod Collection Part Two: July 2006

Marker on foamcore, 11"h x 31"w

On and off for the last ten years, I've been buying cardboard signs from men and women who use them to solicit money on sidewalks, median strips and other public places. I usually offer $20, a new black magic marker and a blank piece of cardboard, and am almost never refused. Folk art is often just the result of imagination overcoming difficulties imposed by poverty or repression. For me these signs are important more for political reasons than for aesthetic ones, but I am conscious of how aesthetics inform, deform and transform the political. These signs' utility overcomes, I think, any misplaced poignancy. I can only rarely afford to buy these signs, and am not in much of a position to exhibit them, beyond the confines of this digital frame. If anyone an put me in touch with someone who could better care for and utilize these fragile signs, I'd be appreciative.
Pencil & marker on cardboard; 9"h x 13"w; by "Red"
Bought in Atlanta in 1993 from Red, who was 43 years old, birthday in April, he used to drive an 18-wheeler.

Tempera? on cardboard; 19"h x 28"w

Crayon on cardboard; 14"h x 22"w
Tempera?, ballpoint pen, marker & colored pencil on cardboard; 19"h x 28"w

Marker on cardboard; 17"h x 16"w

Tempera?, acrylic & marker on cardboard, 16"h x 20"w
Marker on cardboard, 12"h x 21"w

Ball point pen on cardboard; 12"h x 13"w

Marker & ball-point pen on cardboard; 12"h x 14"w

Marker on cardboard; 16"h x 21"w

Markers on cardboard; 12"h x 12"w
Ball-point pencil & nail polish; 11"h x 11"w
Bought from "Red with a beard" on 6/20/03 at corner of 9th & Bryant, SF CA

Ball-point pen on cardboard; 11"h x 16"w

Marker on cardboard; 13"h x 16"w

Markers on cardboard; 16"h x 13"w
okay this is actually a ringer - it's a sign I made for a planned series of durational performances on off-ramps in 2004 - performances I never got around to doing

Marker on cardboard; 12"h x 14"w
This purchase was pretty satisfying. On bleak, cold, overcast late afternoon August 9th, 1996, I pulled off northbound Interstate 25 near Colorado Springs, CO, intending to head west on Route 24. At the bottom of the ramp, a guy named George was standing there with this sign. The day was waning and the sky was crowding up with surly black clouds. I didn't any markers or cardboard with me, but George was happy enough to get my $20 bill. The $20 made his quota for the day and allowed him to get off the ramp & back to shelter before the storm hit.
Marker on cardboard; 17"h x 15"w

Marker on cardboard; 12"h x 10"w
Bought from retired Staff Sargeant Edward Hahn on August 20th, 1996, on the south side of Market Street between Noe & Sanchez. Mr. Hahn told me: "You're not the first person to buy my sign."

Marker on cardboard: 11"h x 11"w
Bought at the bottom of the 5th & Harrison off-ramp of westbound Interstate 80 in SF CA from "Marvin's friend" Earl on 11/2/03.

Marker on cardboard; 14"h x 19"w
A double-sided piece, found not bought. Technically not a panhandling sign but I couldn't resist collecting & exhibiting this. I'm not all that interested in laughing at people who are unusual or who can't spell correctly. But I am interested in the range of content that people are compelled to communicate, and how they manage to communicate it.
Marker on foamcore; 15"h x 32"w
Another double-sided piece, by the same person who made "It's Okay To Smile We Are In America Now" shown at the beginning of this exhibition. The mixture of contempt and compassion, combined with strong, almost-cheery graphics, makes this my personal favorite.