New York Post • February 10, 2008 • by Karen Holt
Chuck Sperry lives in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, where he’s made his particular style of rock poster designs for over 20 years. He operates Hangar 18, a silkscreen print studio, located in Oakland.
New York Post • February 10, 2008 • by Karen Holt
One Saturday night in Las Vegas, twelve-year-old Newell Ewing goes out with a friend and doesn’t come home. In the aftermath of his disappearance, his mother, Lorraine, makes daily pilgrimages to her son’s room and tortures herself with memories. Equally distraught, the boy’s father, Lincoln, finds himself wanting to comfort his wife even as he yearns for solace, a loving touch, any kind of intimacy.
As the Ewings navigate the mystery of what’s become of their son, the circumstances surrounding Newell’s vanishing and other events on that same night reverberate through the lives of seemingly disconnected strangers: a comic book illustrator in town for a weekend of debauchery; a painfully shy and possibly disturbed young artist; a stripper who imagines moments from her life as if they were movie scenes; a bubbly teenage wiccan anarchist; a dangerous and scheming gutter punk; a band of misfit runaways. The people of Beautiful Children are “urban nomads,” each with a past to hide and a pain to nurture, every one of them searching for salvation and barreling toward destruction, weaving their way through a neon underworld of sex, drugs, and the spinning wheels of chance.
In this masterly debut novel, Charles Bock mixes incandescent prose with devious humor to capture Las Vegas with unprecedented scope and nuance and to provide a glimpse into a microcosm of modern America. Beautiful Children is an odyssey of heartache and redemption – heralding the arrival of a major new writer.
Bock was born and raised in Las Vegas, which served as the setting for Beautiful Children. He comes from a family of pawnbrokers who’ve operated pawn shops in downtown Las Vegas for more than thirty years. On his website, he reflects upon his upbringing as a source of inspiration for the novel:
“Sometimes, when my siblings and I were little, my parents, for various reasons, used to have us stay in the back of the shop. This would be after school or during summer vacation, when there wasn’t summer camp, or they didn’t have anybody to watch over us and we were too small to be alone. We’d occupy our time with sodas from a nearby casino’s gift shop, comic books, and a television that got wavy reception, and we’d do small chores, rolling coins or filing the previous day’s pawn tickets. The store often had a line of people waiting to pawn their goods, local customers who worked in casinos and also spent all their spare time playing blackjack and slot machines, and also tourists who had blown all their cash, and maybe their plane tickets home, and now were desperate, and hung over, and needed loans on their wedding rings, so they could go back into the casinos and win back their money. I’d sometimes stare out of the back of the store and watch the people in line and take in their faces. Lots of times my parents would be put in the position of having to tell these people that their wedding ring was only worth a fraction of what they’d paid for it, or that, say, the diamonds in that ring were brown and flawed. From the back of the store, I’d watch as the customers exploded and called my parents dirty Jews and cursed at them and threatened them at the top of their lungs. It’s impossible in situations like that not to feel for everybody involved – to be horrified, sure, but more than that, to be saddened by the spectacle, to want so much more than that out of life for everyone.”
Bock earned a Master’s of Fine Arts in fiction and literature from Bennington College and has taught fiction at the Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City. His short fiction has been published in Esquire Magazine.
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Four members of the The British Rock Artists’ Group (BRAG) ignited San Francisco when they visited the Firehouse Kustom Rockart Company. Firehouse invited BRAG to come here to create a set of silkscreen posters for the 40th Anniversary of the Summer of Love concert.
Firehouse artists Ron Donovan and I organized the workshop with BRAG to bring the British artists to San Francisco to make a poster series, but we wanted something more. Ron and I also wanted to expose them to the rich poster tradition of The City. We planned a series of guest artist visits and educational lectures that highlighted the many facets of the rock poster world from a San Francisco perspective.
BRAG artists Rhys Wootten, Jamie McGregor, Matt Douthwaite and Adrian Day were four of the dozen or so members of the British art group who responded to the invitation. They were able to drop busy job and family schedules to participate in the workshop.
San Francisco is the mecca of the original psychedelic poster tradition. It’s also the well-spring of the current world-wide poster renaissance. Firehouse felt it was appropriate to bring these British artists here to produce posters for the 40th anniversary of the seminal San Francisco psychedelic moment – The Summer of Love.
I asked Boots Hughston for his blessing to create a limited edition silkscreen poster set for the 2B1 organized concert in Golden Gate Park. The set was designated the BRAG Series, and with Firehouse producing one of the posters, five posters comprise the set.
The British artists created their designs in England and brought them to San Francisco to print them here at the Firehouse Kustom Rockart Company, located at 179 11th Street in SOMA.
During the printing workshop we were visited by some of San Francisco’s best poster artists and rock poster authorities:
Only one thing was left: a congratulation dinner at the Beach Chalet with a beautiful view of the sun setting over the Pacific and dozens of beach bonfires, ringed by Summer of Love revelers. Cheers BRAG!
link: Creative Review
The British Rock Artists Group – or B.R.A.G. – was formed by the talented individuals who attended my Master Class workshop in Brighton, UK on May 18 and 19 of 2006 – a class which I taught as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival. Many thanks to BDI Screenprinting for the use of their excellent facilities to teach this class!!!
The Fringe Festival was inspired by a visit to SXSW, Austin, Texas and its gig poster expo Flatstock. So in May 2006, Brighton Fringe Arts Production brought together over 25 national and international artists to transform an edgy and raw venue – The Basement – into a visual feast of contemporary screen printed, letter-pressed and lithographed gig posters.
Never content to stay within the bounds of exhibition â€“ SubScreenSonic was a collection of events designed to encourage artists, the public and the music industry alike to reignite the passion that existed in the 60s & 70s for gig posters & kick start the UK scene here & now.
My students’ eagerness to kick start the British poster scene was the very result for which I had hoped when I taught this class. Six months later with 50 posters to their collective credit, my hopes were realized. Thus was formed B.R.A.G. from the people who attended my workshop.
Presently, I am organizing a San Francisco Master Class Workshop for members of B.R.A.G. to take place in late August and early September 2007. The Workshop will cover silkscreen printing techniques, poster creation, and business aspects of the field – by introducing the students to artists, critics and art directors from the San Francisco Area. And just for the full SF experience, The Workshop coincides with the Summer of Love Festival and a TRPS sponsored poster show to be held here in San Francisco the weekend of September 1, 2007.
Here’s my release for the Firehouse Workshop with BRAG:
The British Rock Artists’ Group Peacefully Invades the USA
Starting with SF
September 1, 2007
Opening: 5pm – 10pm
(cases of free beer! thanks to Anchor Steam Brewery)
Firehouse Workshop with BRAG – project to create 6 limited edition
silkscreen posters for the Summer of Love 40th Anniversary Festival
to be held at Speedway Meadow in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco
on September 2, 2007.
These limited edition serigraphic posters have the blessing of 2B1/ Council of Light –
the organizers of the festival – and they will receive an official BRAG number for the event.
Firehouse Workshop Openhouse:
Firehouse Kustom Rockart Company
179 11th Street
between August 25 – August 31
Stop by, watch and participate in the creation of these posters.
Many artists, professionals and collectors have been invited and will be in residence throughout.
Posters will be released at the Aspect Gallery show!
Here below, I’m happy to publish a statement of purpose from B.R.A.G.:
“British Rock Artists Group… We are B.R.A.G.,British Rock Artists Group,a Brighton (UK) based collective and currently have 20 active members.
The silkscreen music poster tradition still thrives in the USA today and is illustrative of the symbiotic relationship between music and poster art. With the progression into this century, everything seems possible in the sphere of silkscreen printing. Conventional themes are no longer valid, and the design knows no boundaries. The silkscreen-printing scene now includes a diverse array of artists from graphic design, contemporary art, traditional and Art Nouveau-motifs, all of whom incorporate new ideas, themes, materials and forms.
Whilst the British Movement of silkscreen poster printing is still in its infancy compared to the thriving tradition in the US, there has been a huge growth of interest, reflected in articles published in the Guardian, Creative Review, Grafix Magazine, and Design week. And, with the Flatstock Poster Exhibition exhibiting in Europe for the first time this year, enthusiasm for silkscreen printing is growing . In addition, we have begun to establish collaborative relationships with members of the entertainment industry and bring the joy of collectible posters to the community.
Exhibited in January 2007, Estonia, invited by the collective Non Grata. Fifty posters were displayed showcasing our work, contributing to an international print festival that was held in Parnu. We are currently working on prints for the Hector’s Live nights at Hector’s House as well as other gigs around …
Kathimerini / Herald Tribune • October 31, 2006 • by Yiannis Kolovos
Chuck Sperry lives in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, where he’s made his particular style of rock poster designs for over 20 years. He operates Hangar 18, a silkscreen print studio, located in Oakland. Learn More…