If you are at all interested in graphic design, history or World War I, hurry over to the Art Coop inside Lincoln Square Village in Urbana.
The owners of the art supply store are showing in their gallery 27 vintage WWI posters that took my breath away. I’ve always loved the graphics from that era, and these original posters are striking in their designs and colors.
They are from the collection of retired University of Illinois professor of French Frederic Jenkins of Urbana, who inherited them from his aunt, Margaret Smith. She owned one of the first travel agencies in Tacoma, Wash., opening it during the first “Great War.” She received the posters, which urge Americans to get involved in the war effort, from recruiters to show in her agency.
Jenkins’s wife, Shirley, researched the posters and wrote wall text for each one.
Knut Bauer, a co-owner of Art Coop, said he and other artists have commented that the posters are printed so well that they look like the original paintings on which they were based.
Bauer also told me that Paul Young, who teaches graphic design at Parkland College, told his students to see the vintage posters. They have been trailing into the Coop over the past month or so. The Coop was to have closed the poster show earlier but noticed a recent surge in the number of other folks coming in to view it.
“People from a certain demographic, mostly in their 70s thru 90s who get their news the old-fashioned way — from newspapers, actual conversations, snail mail, chance encounters at stores and restaurants and libraries, and those ancient phones without keyboards,” the Coop wrote in a post on its Facebook page.
The Art Coop is extending its “Vintage WWI Poster Show” through this Saturday (Sept. 15) and will remove them after that to make way for a new show of works by the four “young turks” who work at the Coop: Jason Patterson, Josh Fairbanks, Sophie McMahan and Amanda Mulcahy, who is a student at the School of the Art Institute.
Some of McMahan’s work recently was published in a two-page spread in a slick magazine called Direct Art.
To see online some of the posters in the Vintage WWI Poster Show go to the Art Coop’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/artcoop. Accompanying this blog are a couple of photos I took when I saw the show last weekend.