Images

My Love Affair with April Greiman

It all started in college.

I was studying graphic design at the University of Illinois when I came across a copy of WET magazine (“gourmet bathing” according to the tagline on the cover). This was in the early 1980s and we’re deep in the minimalist modern “Swiss” era where any decoration in art was frowned upon. So this copy of WET that I held in my hands, well it looked like it came from Mars. It was funky, it was spicy, it smelled of something illegal and it was the opposite of the rational design thinking my professors were trying to instill in their students. It wasn’t until much later that I found out April Greiman was one of the people behind this magazine (even though her name was not on the masthead).

California-style postmodernism as envisioned by April Greiman et al (1979)

As an art student (yes, design was taught in the “art” department), I dutifully imitated what I saw in WET. What I copied was the surface qualities of April’s work. I was an excellent forger, but unfortunately my professors had already ruined me. My mind had already embraced their modernist philosophies, and I couldn’t unlearn what I had already been taught. Little did I know that modernism was already dying a quick death. April Greiman had killed it in California and kick-started the postmodern era in graphic design just as I was about to graduate.

Today, students get to read about April Greiman in history books. She is one of the few female graphic designers acknowledged in an industry dominated by men. When I saw her face in the new documentary “Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production,” I immediately sent her an email. I told her about our upcoming movie premiere event and begged her to join us for a panel discussion after the film. After a little prodding, she said “yes” to a Skype interview.

One of my favorite early April Greiman designs that I tried to rip-off.

“Graphic Means” is a brand-new documentary about the pre-digital period of graphic design known as the “cold type” era (you’ll have to see the movie to understand why the funny name). This is the same era glamorized in the “Mad Men” TV series. Fans of this period are in love with the fashion and furniture design of the “mid-century modern” style as featured in the TV series. But this was also the epitome of overt sexism in the workplace where women were literally worth half as much as men. Both sides of the story are told in great detail in “Graphic Means.”

Vintage retro promo graphic for the “cold type” era (circa 1975)

“Graphic Means” is Briar Levit’s first film and it hits all the marks of a great documentary. From her selection of offbeat on-screen characters she interviewed to her selection of ironic retro archival footage, “Graphic Means” is a rich and amusing visual experience. It’s also stuffed full of fascinating facts and stories not often told. I predict that in time, “Graphic Means” will rise to the level of “Helvetica” as one of the important must-see cultural documentaries of our time. And she made the film with Kickstarter funds and an all-female crew.


“Graphic Means” is currently making the rounds at film festivals, film societies, museums and specialty cinemas in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, UK, and across the US (see full list). Champaign is lucky to be on the list of premiere cities and Parkland is very lucky to be able to host both the filmmaker and April Greiman via Skype for a post-screening discussion.

And what about that “love affair” with April? Well I did graduate from the University of Illinois with a BFA and a portfolio of fake postmodern projects (but it made me look “cool” and got me good jobs). Later, after I started teaching graphic design history at Parkland, I really got to know April’s work deeply (since I had to explain what “postmodernism” means to my students). Now my students make Powerpoint presentations about her and design T-shirts that pay tribute to her.

A tribute T-shirt design by Parkland Student Brandon Cherry

And then in 2004, it happened. I met April Greiman for the first time. I was on the board of the now defunct Ad Club of Champaign-Urbana and we had the money to bring someone big and important to town for a presentation. On a lark, we invited April and she came. She even made a stop at Parkland in L111 and chatted with the students.

In 2004, April Greiman visited Champaign-Urbana (click the image above to jump to our Facebook gallery)

As a souvenir, she handed out little “fortune cookie” strips that said “If thinking, think nothing” (it’s a Buddhist thing). Those are now collector’s items. I got to design the promos for her visit and this time I got it right. I was able to capture the joy of flying against convention and breaking rules just for the sake of breaking rules with this experimental web page:

Website promotion designed by Paul Young as a tribute to April Greiman (2004)

And then in 2015, it happened again. On a trip to Las Vegas, my wife and I decided to take a little detour to Joshua Tree National Park. We knew April Greiman owned a motel near there so we booked a few nights at her little hideaway called Miracle Manor. And what a little miracle it is, fed with natural mineral-rich hot springs right from under the motel directly into her pool. And on the day we arrived?April was there with her boyfriend and it was her birthday! Hanging out with April by the pool on this special day? Priceless.

Miracle Manor: April Greiman’s retreat in Desert Hot Springs CA

And now it’s going to happen for a third time. Tomorrow night, I get to moderate a panel discussion about “Graphic Means” with April Greiman participating on the panel live via Skype. Joining us will be four other local designers and educators as well as the director of the film (see complete list of panelists). Am I nervous? Nah not really. She’s a really cool gal and really easy to talk to. Besides, I’ve met her before.

Click the above image to jump to the movie premiere promo site for advanced tickets and all the details.

Discounted advanced ticket sales will end on Tuesday, November 14 at 12 noon, but tickets will still be available at the door. Here are the details of our one-night only movie premiere special event:

Thanks to our generous sponsors, 100% of the box office receipts will benefit Giertz Gallery at Parkland College.

[Paul Young is the program director of Graphic Design at Parkland College.]

Ford ASSET Student Earns Gold at SkillsUSA

**UPDATE! Jacob won gold at the national competition!**

Parkland College Ford ASSET program‘s Jacob Greene will soon represent the state of Illinois in automotive service technology excellence after winning gold at the SkillsUSA Illinois Championship in Springfield late last month.

The freshman and 2016 Litchfield High School graduate is ready to compete with about 6,000 other state contest winners at the SkillsUSA National Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, June 19-23. More than 16,000 people are expected to attend this exciting week of competition in career and technical education.

Upon graduation from Parkland College, Jacob has the opportunity to become fully certified as a Ford technician with an associate’s degree in automotive technology. As part of his program at Parkland, Jacob will have had over 32 weeks of hands-on training at his sponsoring Ford dealership, Victory Lane Ford in Litchfield.

Jacob’s high school automotive instructor, Eric Gray, and his Parkland Ford ASSET instructor, Thomas Fischer, are both 2008 graduates of Parkland’s Ford ASSET program! Fischer, a Mahomet resident, serves as Jacob’s SkillsUSA advisor.

Congratulations, Jacob! Parkland is proud of your accomplishments and wishes you great success at Nationals!

Screeching Good Times at Parkland’s Giertz Gallery!

 

12107946_10205314027076353_6669698861647821915_n
“Ornithology” exhibit features works by artists Monique Luchetti (left) and Barbara Kendrick.

 

Ornithology: Works by Barbara Kendrick and Monique Luchetti
runs through Saturday, November 7, at Giertz Gallery.

This exhibition has been a hit at the gallery so far! A reception took place Thursday, October 1, with a brief gallery talk by both artists and musical performance by the Parkland Guitar Ensemble. People who attended the event were able to hear about the artwork firsthand.

Barbara and Monique have a fascination and sympathy with birds, but their work is divergent in concepts, material, and process. Although the artists take different approaches in their body of work, they both use images of birds to speak to the ways our lives are inextricably tied together, interdependent and bound to the earth for survival.

“We are alive in a world where the distinction between what we know to be human and what we believe to be animal is shrinking,” the artists have said about their exhibit.

And speaking of birds…

Owl-1
Quasi the Screech Owl from the Anita Purvis Nature Center.

In addition to the artist lectures, and in tandem with Parkland College’s Sustainable Campus Committee, there will be a special program titled “Owls and Avian Adaptations” on Tuesday, October 20 from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. in the Gallery Lounge. Savannah Donovan from the Urbana Park District’s Anita Purves Nature Center will introduce you to Quasi the Eastern screech owl.

Savannah will show you the amazing adaptations that allow owls to thrive in darkness. You will also get to see other avian specimens for comparison. October is Campus Sustainability Month, and the Sustainable Campus Committee will be hosting a series of activities and events throughout the month at Parkland. Please visit the Parkland College website for more information.

Now, back to the “Ornithology” exhibit!

Barbara Kendrick is a local artist and a retired professor from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She admires birds’ ability to survive and adapt to new, sometimes hostile environments. The way they build nests in the alphabet of signs on storefronts, or gather cigarette butts to line their nests, informs her collages. As she makes her work, she tries to match her own sense of improvisation with that of the birds. Each collage opens up new questions about our connection to the way the birds live in our world.

Monique Luchetti, a Brooklyn-based studio artist, sifts through museums’ ornithology collections as if they were cemeteries, gleaning the identities of the birds for her drawings, preserved and tagged by humans for further study. Her drawings are a meditation of loss and remembering and on the contradiction inherent in humans: racing to collect, classify, and catalog species while continuing to haplessly destroy the same species through climate change and the devastation of the planet’s forests and oceans.

Barbara was recently interviewed by Melissa Merli at the News-Gazette; during the interview, she said, “In my own work, there has to be a sense of surprise and discovery or I get bored… Now I use found materials for the collages. I use everything. I grab images off the Internet. I use magazines. I use books. Lately I’ve been taking my own photographs. These are ink-jet prints. I read an essay about parakeets in the bare nerve garden and that was such an image to me. So I went on the Internet and found images of neurons and dendrites and printed them and took images of parakeets and put them in them among the dendrites.”

Giertz Gallery at Parkland College hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 2 p.m. Saturday.

To find the gallery when classes are in session, we suggest using the M6 parking lot on the north corner of the campus. Enter through door X-7, turn left, and follow the ramps uphill to the highest point of the first floor, where the gallery is located. The gallery windows overlook the outdoor fountain area.

Programs at the gallery are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. Parkland College is a section 504/ADA-compliant institution; for accommodation, call 217/351-2505.

We hope to see you here soon!

Comadre, Compadre Mentors Shine in KC, MO!

Parkland’s Comadre and Compadre Program mentors and coordinators recently (and successfully) presented their conference proposal, “Meaningful Connection Between Latina/o Students at a Community College in Illinois” at the 2014 National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies’ (NACCS) Midwest FOCO Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.

For all the student mentors, this was the first time they attended or presented at a regional conference. Their preparation and passion for the topic moved all of those in attendance. A former college dean called their work “commendable and inspiring.” Another participant called the mentors “rock stars!”

The Comadre and Compadre Program at Parkland College offers individualized mentorship between academically successful Latina/o students with incoming Latina/o students. The program operates under the guidance of program coordinators Moises Orozco and Eduardo Coronel. As of today, the Comadre and Compadre Program has a total of 60 incoming Latina/o students and 10 mentors.

In their roundtable presentation, Comadre and Compadre mentors underscored some important trends and challenges within a rapidly growing Latino student population. They also discussed in detail the impact they are having with their mentees, and they highlighted the uniqueness of working with traditional and nontraditional college-age students.

Students were also able to attend both scholarly and poster presentations. Most importantly, they were able to network with prolific scholars in the field of Chicana/o studies as well as Latino leaders in the community.

The Parkland Academy Team (PAT) received the Parkland’s Inspire, Develop, Engage, Assess, Sustain (IDEAS) Grant last fall, to actively address the low persistence rate of Latina/o students on campus as well as to engage in community outreach. To achieve these two objectives, PAT created the Comadre and Compadre Program.

The mentors viewed their conference experience as extremely motivational and validating of their hard work. They are all eager to submit another proposal to a conference, but this time include the mentees in the presentation, so they can inspire others!

Presenters at NACCS Conference:

Mentors (pictured): Jonathan Mendoza, Wendy Ramírez, Angeles Rivera-Centeno, Alberto (AJ) Jiménez

Coordinators: Moises Orozco, Eduardo Coronel