Saturday, June 11, 2011


On the side of Warehouse 21 in Santa Fe, a set of large portraits by Anne Staveley - large "wheatpaste" photos, the peeling poster explains.   This went up at the end of May, I think, and it represents a number of young people from Santa Fe - probably all of them involved with W21, which is a very active teen arts space.   Already, the images have started to flake and peel, which makes them - to my mind - even more striking, and makes the kids (many of whom are smiling and cheerful and look wonderfully individualistic, creative, geeky) in fact seem like stereotypes of alienate urban youth, not Gap poster children.   That doesn't do the images justice - they are great portraits - but they are even more interesting now that they've been exposed to sun and wind.

But wheatpaste?   Is this some alternative printing technique I should know about?   Turns out that it's nothing to do with the making of the print, but the all too familiar flour and water substance that I used to run around Oxford with late night - sometimes it was wallpaper glue, too - in my fly-posting youth.   So one uses large brushes or rollers of the stuff in order to stick prints to surfaces (in my case, to stick playbills or political demo posters to hoardings, or anything that I could run away from fast).   I had, I remember, a dark green winter coat that I used to use for such outings - and after a while the whole right sleeve was gummed up with paste, and could probably have stuck out on its own even if no one were inside the coat, like a rather gluey scarecrow.

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