All of Us or None: Social Justice Posters of the San Francisco Bay Area

Lincoln Cushing, Author
Lincoln Cushing. Heyday, $25 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-59714-185-7
Reviewed on: 05/14/2012
Release date: 05/01/2012
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This engaging catalogue surveys nearly 300 of the late Michael Rossman's enormous collection of over 24,000 San Francisco Bay Area social justice posters. Though the entire archive of the longtime Free Speech movement activist's prints are housed in the permanent collection of the Oakland Museum of California, Cushing discusses highlights spanning the past 50 years. Screenprints like Lewis Suzuki's "No More Hiroshimas, No More War" (1963) set the stage for a "domestic political poster renaissance" that echoed the flowering of a broader protest culture after 1965. With fluid, highly accessible prose, Cushing traces the lineage of images that have now become iconic, such as Frank Cieciorka's often quoted clenched fist, or the Black Panther Party's panther symbol as rendered by Emory Douglas and others. The catalogue also includes posters for countercultural musical and literary events like 1967's Human Be-In, which featured Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Jerry Ruben, and "all San Francisco rock groups," or the many various performances of the San Francisco Mime Troupe. As the more monolithic concerns of the New Left diversified into calls for Women's, Latino, Asian-American, African-American, Disability, LGBT, and Native American rights, so developed a subsequent generation of provocative images. Recent examples, such as Jesus Barraza's "Banging on the System"— which proclaims solidarity with Wisconsinite workers— show that despite the proliferation of social media and online communication, these tangible artworks "still have a place in this world," so long as the "underlying problems" persist. Illus. (June)
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