When it comes to the source most original in bringing art on the periphery to the general audience, few publishers can keep up with Mark Batty Publisher. Seemingly always on the lookout for art on the edge, these books are not only inventive and creative, but they also are beautifully designed and devoted to entertainment as much as to enlightenment.
Take PEEL: THE ART OF THE STICKER for example. This richly colorful volume is a collection highlights of eight issues of the magazine PEEL - the creation of Dave and Holly Combs. At once artistic and rich in iconology and just plain buffoonery, the magazine focuses on the satire found along the streets of this country, enhanced of course by some free-spirited artists who find ways to use the most mundane of objects to make us laugh or, at least, take notice of our own foibles. Comments on sociopolitical issues, graffiti-like refuse, and variations of thoughts created on those awful 'Hello, my name is...' stickers pasted on our passive bodies in attendance at parties, rallies, and meetings, words and drawings and photos superimposed on Priority Mail stickers in a feeble attempt to balk the postal system - this list is a short beginning to the wild fantasies acted out by sticker-mania.
In addition to copious photographs of many stickers found in PEEL Magazine, and since this is a book and not just another issue, there are included in these pages some interviews with artists and participants in this pop art medium that say not only a lot about the meaning of stickers and manipulations of common articles of the day, but also inform us about the way we view our world and value 'things' - at times being offended that some artist would 'defile' these icons. Add to that the naughty images (see: Colaborate [sic] because its good for you' chapter) and the actual stickers the reader (or book owner!) can peel off the page to embellish the environment both personal and public, and the tenor of this absorbing book comes into focus.
'Gallery art stays indoors protected with glass and controlled lighting whereas street art fades and changes over time. These differences are analogous to the differences in modernism an post-modernism.' This is an entertaining book for any reader and a must read for students of art in art school today. As always fine parody is based on wisdom - and there is a plethora of both in this terrific book! Grady Harp, May 08