Earl Newman, Poster Artist

OPB | Dec. 5, 2008 midnight | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:47 p.m.

What does it take to capture music, dance, theater, or protest in visual form?

Jeff Taylor on our site pointed us in a very specific direction last month:

“Oregon has a national treasure, but the clock is ticking. Earl Newman is pushing 80, and he’s been recognized by the Smithsonian, the Oregon Country Fair, the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, the Monterey Jazz Festival, and jazz fans in Japan as someone who has captured the essence in his art.

If the MacArthur people weren’t asleep at the wheel, he would have received their grant by now. Artists are a dime a dozen; successful artists are even more rare; but Earl Newman is sui generis, in a class by himself…. Earl’s silkscreened posters have turned up in African huts, classic magazine cover shots, and in the final moments of the movie Sideways. Nobody in Oregon really knows he’s here, and still alive, and still creating Art in simple ways.”

You can see those “simple ways” here. To look at Newman’s work — even just the posters he made when he was living in Venice, CA, between 1960 and 1972 — is to see the progression of the popular visual culture of the second half of the 20th century. So we called Earl the other day, and invited him to join us for an hour in the studio on Friday to talk about fifty years of art, music, and politics.

Have you seen Earl’s iconic images — in Ashland, or Monterey, or Veneta? Have you brought any of them home for your own walls? What does it take to capture a musical performance on a silkscreen? Or further a political cause with a poster? And what would you like to ask a man who has carved out a successful artistic niche for more than half a century?

Photo credit: “Roller Coaster,” Earl Newman, 1961

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