Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Sign Painters

 sign porn
A tiny portion of my pictures of signs. Some of my favorites are held hostage on Flickr, awaiting me to renew my pro account.

When I found out Sign Painters, a documentary on the art of the hand-painted sign by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon, was premiering at the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery, I was over the moon. I've been stalking, er, following along since I saw Faythe first mention the project on Twitter. I can't say that I'm obsessed with good signage, but an interesting sign has always been able to lure me in. Judging from all the photos of hand-painted beauties littering my phone and Flickr account, it is safe to say I've had a thing for them for quite a while.

The film, itself, paid homage to the craft and passion of sign painting. After an intro chock full of sign porn, we traveled the country with the filmmakers and listened to stories from some of the greats. I was humbled by the stories of apprenticeship and years of dedication to learning their craft. Sometimes I find myself frustrated with not automatically knowing how to do certain things or not being considered an expert (shoots a wary look at the ukulele sitting unplayed in my corner). What a cocky bastard I am to think I should be good at something after giving it an hour or a week!

Another thing that really spoke to me was something mentioned during the q&a when Levine made reference to how important it was as a filmmaker and a researcher to be able to add quality content in a field where information is scarce. As a collector of information and stories, this really spoke to me. Like graffiti long abandoned under an overpass, Levine and Macon extend the legacy of some of these artists beyond faded traces left on that brick building you always pass walking home from work.

Seeing the film surrounded by portraits in the Renwick's Grand Salon was just the cherry on top.

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