A year ago, poster designer and illustrator David Plunkert pitched an idea to Seymour Chwast about mounting a poster show in Baltimore’s Spur Gallery to help promote Chwast’s forthcoming book, Poster Man.
“He was all in for attending a late 2021 event in our gallery,” explains Plunkert, “but as the year wore on he decided he needed to use his energy for making art.” Chwast turned 90 in August as COVID was still raging. So Plunkert devised and built a substitute “Seymour Decoy,” originally designed as a vending Chwast ‘O Mat. Buy a gallery print, receive a token and get a “piece of Chwast.”
The sterilized prepackaged “Seymour Parts” collected by Plunkert and his daughter “are ephemeral things that tangentially relate to Chwast and his work, but it’s not overthought,” he explains. “The figure morphed into a hardware display as the objects selected grew in scale but the general concept remains the same.” Seymour also provides disembodied narration for his doppelgänger via video recording. “I was able to intersect with Seymour in New York to get exacting measurements,” Plunkert says. The decoy is as true to life as possible. “I say it looks like Tommy Lee Jones, Seymour says it looks like Clint Eastwood.”
Thirty or more Chwast posters, plus a special 24″ x 36″ three-color screenprint he illustrated and designed for the show will be on sale when it opens Nov. 19. Chwast’s Poster Man, a collection of over 120 works, will also be available with a signed bookplate.
“My appreciation for Chwast goes back to my Shepherd College days and the relentless push of his work from my instructor Mike Nuetzel,” Plunkert notes. “‘The Frank Buck Had it Poster’ hung on a file cabinet near my desk and I was able to get that same poster by swapping it for Glaser’s ‘Dylan.'” It will also be featured in the show but not for sale.
Jon Zerivitz of Baltimore’s Union Craft Brewing was keen on developing a special Chwast brew called Seymour Chwast’s American Light Lager, which will be served at the Spur Gallery reception on Dec. 3.
“Having come to beer with a background of, and deep appreciation for, graphic art,” says Zerivitz, “I have always placed great value on good design and branding. I had an old copy of the Push Pin Graphic Dream Book that I’d often look to for fun and inspiration. Seymour Chwast’s work has a very clever sense of humor that really appeals to me. It is truly an honor to have a can of our beer wrapped in a small piece of this man’s legendary body of work.”
Just remember to save a couple of brewskis for Mr. Chwast and a Seymour Part or two, too.