Now that the restrictions on getting one’s hair cut has eased, I finally got to go to the place I usually go, within walking distance of my house: Derby City Chop Shop in the Germantown neighborhood of Louisville. And I’d wanted to go there a long time because I knew they had decorated their place with the coolest art: gig posters.
I had waited five months to cut my hair, and I was ready. I took up a seat in the far corner where I was able to really get a close look at the poster seen here for a Pixies show at the Louisville Palace in 2011. The artist is Kii Arens, whose website shows his prowess at all manner of art, including posters for Arctic Monkeys, Dashboard Confessional, Beck, and more.
Taking a close look at this poster, there are subtleties that reward those that examine the poster closely. For one, there is the range of coloring; not only the red, white, and green of the watermelon but the shadowed versions of those colors too! Six colors, therefore, in all. The watermelon is itself dynamic; the range of “cuts,” and the shapes it assumes, quickly become abstract. I mean, this is one hell of a watermelon.
And this poster got me thinking about Andy Warhol. We all recognize that Andy Warhol was an important artist, and he contributed, no doubt, to the screen print as a work of art. But man, I have to say, that whereas Warhol really laid out some of the fundamentals for the art, it also remained (dare I say) primitive. But this print is precise, expansive, masterful.
A gig poster is more than the image, I thought; it’s also language. And the language that matters most, and that carries the most energy is, of course, the band name. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating; half the value is in the name of the band affixed to the poster because that name carries a lot of weight, a lot of significance and associations.
And the fact that it hangs in a local business (there are only two Chop Shops in the city, and it really is a one-of-a-kind place) adds this whole texture to the business. The barber and I had a conversation about it; the owner himself buys these prints for shows he has gone to, just as I do. He frames them, too.
I was amazed to this this print for the 2017 North American Sigur Rós tour, created by Rob Jones, a version of which which I’d seen earlier online and was quite impressed by, but now could see in the raw, hung on the wall in good light (and I think it will be my next purchase, honestly).
Here is another version of it, the blue and gold version which is equally stunning. In either case, I found a copy at JoJo’s posters for $65, and I would like to have it! And under the moniker Animal Rummy, Jones is still making these posters.
The kind of clientele attracted by Derby City Chop Shop is exactly the kind of people who appreciate bands like Sigur Rós and the Pixies. Thus, the wall acts as not only an art gallery, but a testament to the culture shared by clientele and the owners (which, by the way, are all men; this is specifically a men’s barber shop though they will not turn anyone away).
But that wall also serves, let’s admit, as a promotion of this type of art, too. In business? Do you serve millennials and Gen Xers like me? Think about it; you could do the same.
Let me show one other poster they have on their wall, versions of which I’ve seen up for sale at both eBay and Etsy (the later for $45, only one available) by Print Mafia, a 2006 show for Death Cab for Cutie: