An Overview of the Center’s Mission!

A Permanent Archive of Worldwide Punk Art and Fanzines

To present a 30+ year overview of punk arts by emphasizing punk rock’s grass roots, hands-on aesthetic innovations, deeply participatory and inclusive process, and challenge of social, political and cultural conventions. This archive stresses the vivid importance of punk’s international, cross-cultural appeal, and not only highlights the not-to-be-forgotten contributions of local Oregon artists and bands (since it is located in Oregon) but also includes a range of artists, writers, and musicians from North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. It is not designed specifically for just the punk and folklore community but also for people interested in: pop and counter-culture; visionary/outsider art, fine art, and graphic design; music history and journalism; sociology and media, and much more.

Photo below is of Trenchmouth (of Chicago), 1990, in Rockford, IL. The drummer, Fred Armisen, is a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live.

By digitizing thousands of pieces of handbills/posters, creating an extensive index, designing a user-friendly web page, opening the archive to the public, storing work safely, ensuring accessibility at all levels, and helping to curate and sponsor shows that may utilize the work, the center hopes to preserve, maintain, and explore this work for future generations of researchers. In the tradition of handmade, self-taught, Do-It-Yourself culture, which is part and parcel of the vernacular and folk art traditions, the archive will focus on obtaining artists mock-ups of both flyers but also records, promotional items like T-shirts, videos, and fanzines too. In addition, it will contain first generation “original” presses and high-quality copies and facsimiles, ranging from major artists like Raymond Pettibon (whose work is now in museums), Randy “Biscuit” Turner, and Shawn Kerri to numerous anonymous artists whose instant, disposable, Xerox art might otherwise be neglected in the “dustbins of history.”

The archive will also be unique in that it will highlight the ongoing, though often critically ignored, contributions of women, people of color, and gay/lesbian/transgender persons within punk history. Doing so will be very consistent with this subculture’s diverse, participatory nature and preserve the center’s desire to explore and promote diversity and multiculturalism within its programs, which is fundamental in creating a robust learning and research environment.

In pursuit of such research and archival excellence, the archive will become a major cornerstone in the ever-burgeoning field of pop culture, folklore, and art, thus drawing considerable interest from musicians, artists, writers, academia, and the public at large.

The year 2007 marks the 31th anniversary of punk, a music and social movement based on the enduring concepts of outsiderness, restlessness, and rebellion. By now, the Sex Pistols are a household name, hardcore punk record and flyer designers Winston Smith and Raymond Pettibon have fine art books available, and bands of the “new school” of punk, like Green Day, have platinum albums and headline stadium concerts. Yet, in-between these two distinct eras emerged a loose knit art and music community that reshaped popular culture by encouraging direct action against the accepted status quo forms of musical and visual expression. Punk flyers, often found on buildings and utility poles, were the primary means by which bands promoted their shows. They were scattered throughout cities like not-so-subtle reminders of another presence below the mainstream social strata and reflected and embodied the changing music scenes, technological innovations, social attitudes and political ideologies, and visual expression of three decades. The same holds true for the fanzines, which were often only a few pages long, stapled, and photocopied in very small numbers with limited distribution, often through the mail.

In creating and distributing these works, which were usually created spontaneously and meant only to survive a short time, artists and musicians forged communities that were as underground and widespread as anything the beatniks or hippies pursued in the heyday of classic “counter-culture.” The flyers and fanzines, often anonymous and photocopied, still represent the quintessential punk expression- Do-It-Yourself – and mirror punk’s deep humanistic struggle for change, opportunity, and hope, not to mention its own essential sense of irony and humor. This collection of flyers, numbering in the thousands, presents a sampling of the various aesthetic styles that embody punk graphics, from the expressionistic designs of early English punk bands to the minimalism of emo music and the self-taught collage experiments of local garage bands across the world. In simple terms, the show provides a way to understand, explore, critique, and appreciate the artistic, literary, and socio-cultural value of a movement that has long been acknowledged as one of the most important generations of the late 20th Century.


One response

  1. I totally remember Trenchmouth! I used to play in an Indianapolis based band called Outspoken and we played with them in Indy a couple of times. Great band!

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