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“Lettering in Public” Exhibition at Signal-Return, Detroit

Kay sign

Exhibition: Lettering in Public
March 21-April 25
1345 Division Street, Detroit 48207
Exhibition Open to the Public Thursday — Saturday from 9 — 5 PM March 21 through April 25th
Closing Reception: Saturday, April 25th, 4 – 6pm, as part of 2015 Art X Detroit Gallery Crawl

Signal-Return is pleased to announce the exhibition, Lettering in Public, curated by University of Michigan Stamps School professor, Nick Tobier, from March 21 — April 25 in our gallery space. This group show asks participating artists to explore the public use of lettering through letters, words, images and messages using a range of techniques and approaches. Artists include Ocelot Collective (Detroit) Dilip Thawal/​Dharavi Biennale and Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action (SNEHA) (Dharavi, India), The Golden Sign Company (Detroit ), Eno Laget (Detroit), Ericka Walker (Halifax, Nova Scotia), Hannah Smotrich (Stamps School, Ann Arbor), Endi Poskovic (Stamps School, Ann Arbor) Jessica Krcmarik / Gratiot + Riopelle (Detroit), Kim Beck (Pittsburgh),

From curator Nick Tobier: 

While words and messages from our corporate sponsors broadcast their status and their wares on a massive scale via letters that largely resemble those on this page, the hand-lettered words of those on the ground are visible — well, on the ground. Commerce and calls, past and present, offer the idiosyncratic marks of sign painters and typographers of another era, while those still extant — Kay Foods, Maceri, Del Bene and Benny Evola jostle for visibility amidst vinyl banners from Kinko’s, digital billboards, and personal injury lawyers calling out from billboards on the freeways.

Words – whole, partial, or transformed – on the sides of buildings. Spoken, written, sung, painted. There’s a hand-painted sign everywhere — and this expressive, joyous typography is visual language in formation along with old neon, poetic and strident broadsides, new stencils and a compendium of wheat pasted missives. The letterform characterizes aural and visual language in a city where the work of radical poets mixes with old-school sign painters on the corner. 

About the curator: Nick Tobier is an artist/​designer teaching at the Stamps School of Art & Design University of Michigan where he serves as the Faculty Engagement Coordinator for Detroit Collaborations at Stamps. As a NYC high school student, he learned to hand letter signs in a grocery store, a skill he recently revisited in hand lettered sign projects in Hudson, NY and Pittsburgh, PA.

About Signal-Return: Signal-Return letterpress studio opened in 2011, reintroducing the authentic craft of handset printmaking to Detroit and serving as an inspiration for the artistic community. Signal-Return’s mission is to teach, advance, and preserve the tradition, craft, and art of letterpress printing and, as its name suggests, serve as a beacon for the community.

Signal-Return espouses four principles that guide its operations and strengthen the creative community in Detroit: Teach, Connect, Serve, and Produce. These operating guidelines steer all of initiatives and ensure that programming is directly tied to the objectives and goals of SR’s mission. S/R partners with other cultural organizations to offer a wide range of related programming, free and open to the public: poetry readings, book release parties, and exhibitions.