On exhibit: The ‘quiet contributions’ of Danny J. Gibson

[Tom Biederbeck] Danny J. Gibson has more or less flown under the national radar for the past decade or so, but in Kansas City he’s been a presence with memorable, utterly original posters for music gigs, arts events and community happenings. Isn’t it time for a retrospective? Sure thing: Quietly Contributing — Poster Art of DJG Design will be exhibited Sept. 2–30 in K.C. Read on for a taste of Gibson’s art and a very special music offer.

Gibson’s imagery is always surprising, even if — or maybe because — it’s almost impossible to describe. Freely ranging across folk styles, punk/zine influences, found-art collage and way more, his vision often appears to be about freeing the imagination to forage widely in the subconscious (yes, his art is surreal, too).

Cut paper art and painting by Danny J. Gibson

In an article for Review Art KC 365, writer Steve Brisendine summarizes what makes Gibson’s work so appealing: “Gibson, a sought-after designer specializing in band posters and music cover art, takes his fun seriously. He isn’t just in touch with his inner child; the two of them must hang out on a regular basis, playing with scissors, magazines and construction paper. … Some of his creations are meticulously assembled. Others look as though they were fueled by half a box of frosted cereal, washed down with a two-liter bottle of something sugary and caffeinated.”

I first encountered Gibson while editing the magazine STEP inside design, where his posters always found their way into our “best of” competitions. His poster for a gig with The Vines and Jet (shown in the collage below), hand-cut in a briefcase shape from exquisitely cheesy contact paper, with spray-painted stencil type, is one of my all-time favorites in the genre. It has Gibson’s characteristic combination of conceptual spark with a whiff of spontaneous combustion (not to mention a slightly dazed quality) that I find sophisticated, slapdash, wry, earnest and charming all at once. As I recall, he got the contact paper from a dumpster.

Speaking of combustion: I was telling him how much I admired another poster of his — a composition printed on paper that had been roughly creased, crumpled and strategically burnt. Gibson informed me that he’d been walking home one night when partially burnt sheets of paper started raining down on him from a nearby fire. Naturally, he had to take them home and start experimenting. Could Kansas City actually be Serendip, the Land of the Happy Accident?

The Quietly Contributing exhibition, however, is no accident. More than 400 of his posters — most of which were produced in very limited quantities — will appear in the show. And just for the occasion, bands and musicians from near (K.C.) and far (London) have contributed to a 35-song collection titled DJG Was Here, which you can get now as a free download.

Gibson has retooled his practice to pursue more personal art projects, so this exhibition will be a unique opportunity to see his posters. If you’re in Kansas City (or can arrange to be) during September, be sure to take in Quietly Contributing — Poster Art of DJG Design at 1819 Central Event Space & Gallery in the Crossroads Arts District.

Danny J. Gibson

For more information on the album, visit ChadThomasJohnston.com. You’ll find a downloadable 11 x 14-in. poster, “DJG LP A-to-Z” (musical artist bios) and more music goodies. Contact the gallery by phone at 816.200.3417, or e-mail [email protected]

In the meantime, you can learn more about Danny J. Gibson’s work at his website.

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Comments (1)

  1. Posted by Dakno Gurpstan on 08.17.11 at 10:42 am

    Tom and The Felts & Wires, thanks so much for this and for connecting with my little corner of the art-design gene pool. Much appreciated. Be well…let’s keep on making stuff. -djg

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