Uncover your children’s eyes, and invite your spouses for some good ol’ fashion Burlesque action. Throughout the last week a group of 15 teenagers have been getting a firsthand experience into the world of screenprinting at the studio of Minneapolis’s very own Burlesque of North America. The art collective consists of Todd Bratrud, Bjorn Christianson, Mike Davis, Aaron Horkey, George Thompson, and Wezz Winship. With once loose foundations (relying on “ Special” discounts from friends at Kinko’s for their zines, and creating posters for parties) Burlesque kicked off its launch in the late 90’s with the purchase of a studio on 25th and University, where they worked with First Avenue producing an array of limited edition concert posters, and released their eight issue run of the graffiti/music oriented “ Life Sucks Die” magazine. Currently the group is working with an expansive and growing list of clients, both reigning from international and local regions; including The Arcade Fire, Ween, Wolf Eyes, Gay Beast, and their friends at Rhymesayers. You can find them at their new Studio on Broadway and Stinson recently acquired last summer. And ever since the new space they’ve been playing host to some awesome shows in their foyer gallery space, First Amendment, with hours as flexible as jelly (noon to five, Monday through Friday).
In the workshop “ Life Sucks Design” the assignment was to create a PSA poster design, choosing one musician from a list that included 50-Cent, Johnny Cash, Marilyn Manson, and bunch of other artists that have had “ run-ins” with the law. Working closely with Burlesque, the students were able to learn the basics of screen-printing, and a bit about working with clients, deadlines, and image restriction. For example, one of the groups that chose Jack White (Guitarist of The White Stripes), were only allowed to work with the three colors red, white, and black. While another group, focused on Sid Vicious and his tweaked/punk aesthetic.
Once all the celebrities/convicted criminals were selected, then came the tagging of slogans alluding to the crimes that the celebrities had committed. For instance, Kid Rock, who was busted for beating up another musician, was given the slogan denouncing violence. (aw, the sarcasm is thick with this one). As their ideas were recorded down on paper the first step was finished but done they went through the tedious process of cutting it out on rubylith, which allows them to the layer images.
As the exato knifes became dull and the gummy bears disappeared the week came to a close. The groups printed the many layers to their posters and got ready to display them in the gallery down the hall at the YouWorkForThem studio. The colorful posters, with a message, will be on display this Saturday, August 18 at 7 PM. Right down the hall, be sure to check out First Amendment’s opening featuring Chicago rock poster legend Jay Ryan, as well as a performance by Dosh.
This article was written by Willy Schwartz and Jen Larson, the two workshop interns. Schwartz is a former Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC) member and is currently pursuing a degree in art history. Larson currently is a Journalism major at the University of Minnesota.