Tuesday, May 11, 2010

St. Benet’s Peace Poster and Tiber Press



Earlier this month, on May 4, various news sources highlighted the fortieth anniversary of the Kent State Shootings, which caused me to reflect on the poster pictured above, which is displayed in my office.

My wife, Janis, owns this 1969 vintage silkscreen-printed poster that she purchased as a college freshman in 1970, during the height of the Vietnam anti-war movement. The poster is a typical “peace” poster of the day, printed in three colors and depicting the pacifist words from Micah 4:3: “…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Initially and interestingly the poster was purchased at St. Benet’s Catholic bookstore in Chicago’s Loop. The signature of the artist, R. Heitmann, is printed in the lower left. Especially noteworthy is the name of the publisher, which is printed as © Tiber Press NYC 1969 and located at the bottom edge in the margin.

The gold colored hand-drawn lettering is imaginative, feels slightly Celtic, and seems to caricature Mabel Luci Attwell’s lettering style. The optical vibration of the alternating green and blue colors is evocative of the period. Dynamically, the green and blue shapes form banners of rhythmically undulating “pennants” for the biblical verse. Additionally, the colored shapes emphasize the text through movement and counter movement.

This poster tells a history of how it was displayed, over the years, in various forms of student housing, in the early to mid 1970s, and for many years being rolled up. Printed on heavy weight paper the poster shows wear from thumbtack holes in the corners and scotch tape residue on the margins.

As a side, when Andy Warhol became interested in silkscreen-printing, in the late 1950s or early 60s, he went to Tiber Press for technical advice.

2 comments:

  1. Adele C. GeraghtyJune 23, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    I was amazed to see this poster again. I worked at Tiber Press in 1969 and very well may have played some part in sending this poster on it's way to St. Benet's. I had just graduated from High School and was attending college at the New School for Social Research in Greenwich Village. Tiber was an amazing place, where people like John Sebastian helped rebuild some of the walls and Elliot Gould and B. J. Thomas dropped by for greeting cards. Tiber was founded by Pulitzer nominee Daisy Aldan, Richard Miller and artist Floriano Vecchi (who did actually teach Andy Warhol the silkscreen process). Daisy was the first woman to open an independent publishing company in America (she inspired me to create my own company, BTS Books) and was a staunch believer in self publishing, long before it was 'in'. She was an enigmatic poet who promoted the works of the beat generation writers and was a good friend of legendary Anais Nin. The artist who designed this poster was Robert 'Bob' Heitmann, who could convey amazing depth with simple, fluid shape and a minimal amount of colour. Another artist on staff was Tobias Schneebaum, author of 'Keep The River On Your Right'. It was an inspiring and compelling place, filled with people whose artistic and literary dynamic shaped my future, in such a turbulent time in American history, when art made tangeable our fears and future hope. Thank you for sharing this with me, after all these years. Hold on to this poster; it's a rare and wonderful relic!

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  2. Thank you for your wonderful comment. You’ve provided some very interesting details and history in conjunction with this poster.

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