The art in the advertisement

Artel exhibit has hundreds of different posters which were once displayed around town

Mark Streeter’s exhibit A Recent History of Poster Art in Kingston tries to get the viewer to see these posters as more than just promotional, but also as pieces of art.
Mark Streeter’s exhibit A Recent History of Poster Art in Kingston tries to get the viewer to see these posters as more than just promotional, but also as pieces of art.

Mark Streeter’s exhibit A Recent History of Poster Art in Kingston looks to change the culture of blissful ignorance in how we observe posters.

Too often a quick glance at a poster for information overlooks the artwork behind the ad.

Streeter’s exhibit seems like a colourful bombardment of these advertisements vying for your attention, but there’s a bigger meaning.

The showcase includes an assortment of local promotional posters for concerts, venues, film screenings and art shows from the last five years. They appear as a random arrangement thrown onto the walls, mimicking the vibrancy of an illustration from a Robert Munsch illustration.

Some of the posters were geometrically intricate, using boxy shapes and patterns to deliver its message, while others were simple with depictions of visually-appealing images.

The variety of the countless posters in Streeter’s exhibit put my visual senses into overdrive.

I didn’t know where to look first. But maybe that’s the point.

The fact that each poster was so different from the other was a direct reflection of the diversity in Kingston’s artistic community being put on display.

Most of the ads included are lost in a jumbled mess of fonts and shapes, but a few stood out because of their captivating use of design and colour.

One particular ad advertised a Vapours concert at the Mansion and another advertised CFRC with a tricolour background.

Streeter curates the exhibit not only to show just how culturally diverse Kingston’s art scene is. He also highlights how posters can be the art themselves and I couldn’t agree more.

Poster advertisements for past events — ones that took place right here in Kingston — breathe life into a unique, conceptually tacit show.

But a few of the posters in Streeter’s exhibit were utterly indecipherable to me.

It seems impossible that any of the people who had bustled by lamp posts and trees could’ve possibly comprehended the information on these posters before they were exhibited in the gallery.

A promotional poster is meant to grab attention and explain necessary details.

But at some point, a poster becomes more artistic than promotional and educational.

The only difference between advertisement and art is what we’ve been told to think.

If we see a commercial on TV asking us to purchase a product, we instinctively change the channel — until we take a minute to consider the way in which the commercial is being presented.

Every now and again I’ll see a commercial that captivates my attention, and if it’s good enough to make me pause, I’m left with a sense of appreciation for the creator’s voice behind the commercial.

Now that’s art.

Usually, a hasty eye obstructs the potential of artwork that might have been discovered amidst the business of everyday life, but somehow a select few grab our attention anyways.

The exhibit describes posters as “the most temporary and disposable forms of public art,” which is true.

Although the exhibit is worthwhile, it’s also subtle — until you stop to read the poster.

A Recent History of Poster Art in Kingston is on exhibit at the Artel until Nov. 4 at 5 p.m.

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