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Monday, January 23, 2012

Panel discussion on Poster Boy show at Real Art Ways this Saturday

Real Art Ways
56 Arbor St., Hartford, (860) 232-1006
Poster Boy: Street Alchemy 2.0
Through Jan. 29, 2011.
Panel discussion: Sat., Jan. 28, 7:30 p.m.

Press release

Street Alchemy, an exhibition by artist collective Poster Boy, was scheduled to go on view at Trinity College in September 2011 but was abruptly canceled. According to the Hartford Courant, school administrators canceled the show due to Poster Boy's alleged practice of using materials stolen from public advertisements.

Poster Boy claimed censorship when Trinity College first postponed and then cancelled the exhibition: "They don't know where the billboards come from, and I'm not going to incriminate myself," a representative for Poster Boy said in an interview with the BBC.

The cancellation of the show received national and international attention, including the front page of the Hartford Courant's Living Section, Hartford Advocate, Art Info, the BBC, Channel 3 Eye Witness News, and on WNPR's Colin McEnroe Show.

In wake of the cancellation, Real Art Ways made the decision to present the exhibition with the title Street Alchemy 2.0. The exhibition opened on October 20, 2011 with a crowd of more than 500 in attendance.

Real Art Ways will present a panel discussion to address the multiple and wide-ranging topics that have arisen from this situation. The panel discussion will be Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. This is a free event. The exhibition’s final day is Sun., Jan. 29, 2012.

“Real Art Ways supports artists and we care about community. We believe that controversy can be an opportunity for enlightenment and thoughtful communication,” says Will K. Wilkins, Executive Director of Real Art Ways. “It’s a shame that Trinity cancelled the Poster Boy exhibition, but it has created a context for dialogue.”

A few topics the panelists will discuss are: artist’s rights and freedom of expression, legal issues surrounding this work, the transgressive nature of new art and the value of billboards in advertising and society.

Panelists will include:

Chris Knopf, CEO of Mintz & Hoke Communications Group, a leading marketing agency

Thomas Menard, attorney specializing in intellectual property litigation at Alix, Yale & Ristas, LLP

Dr. Randy Jacobs, Associate Professor of Communications at the University of Hartford, who teaches advertising

Hrag Vartanian, Editor and Founder of the online journal Hyperallergic and an expert on street art

• A member of the Poster Boy collective will also participate

Marela Zacarias, artist and muralist

About the panelists and moderator:

Moderator - Marela Zacarias, artist
Zacarias has painted more than thirty large public murals in the United States. Mexico and Guatemala. She was an Artist-in-Residence for the academic year ‘09—’10 at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, where she completed a mural to be part of the William Benton Museum of Art collection. Her work is currently part of the 2011 S-Files Biennial at Museo del Barrio in East Harlem, NY. She made a 30ft long site-specific sculptural painting at the lobby of the museum. You can see a short video about this piece here.

Panelists -
Dr. Randy Jacobs, Associate Professor of Communications
University of Hartford
Dr. Jacobs teaches advertising in the University of Hartford’s School of Communication. Dr. Jacobs’ interests span the social, economic and ethical implications of advertising and his most recent research looks at the effects of military advertising on enlistment decisions. Dr. Jacobs earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in Advertising from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in Communication from Ohio State University.

Hrag Vartanian, Editor/Founder
Hyperallergic, blogazine and online forum
Vartanian is editor of Hyperallergic. His work has appeared in the Art21 blog, Brooklyn Rail, NYFA’s Current and Huffington Post. He serves on the board of the Triangle Arts Association, he volunteers on numerous educational committees and he blogs at He's a Brooklyn-based writer, editor and art critic who has written extensively about street art, performance art, the Internet and issues of multiculturalism. He maintains a tumblelog notebook, called A Brooklyn Art Critic’s Notebook.

Chris Knopf, CEO
Mintz & Hoke Communications Group
Knopf is a principal in Mintz & Hoke, a marketing communications agency in Avon, CT serving B2B and consumer clients. In a long career, he has won top creative awards in national and New England competitions. Knopf is also a published novelist, cabinet-maker and rock musician when he can steal the time.

Thomas Menard, Attorney
Alix, Yale & Ristas, LLP
Menard is a proud graduate of Central Connecticut State University and the University of Connecticut School of Law. As a partner in the Hartford-based intellectual property (IP) law firm of Alix, Yale & Ristas, LLP, Menard counsels clients regarding patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, IP-related business disputes and IP litigation. The firm represents clients ranging from Connecticut-based manufacturers, to universities, entrepreneurs and a wide range of international clients through an international network of IP law firms. During his twelve years of IP practice, Menard has represented clients in state and federal courts in Connecticut and other U.S. jurisdictions. Menard believes that in-depth knowledge of the client’s business and competitive environment are essential to the strategic allocation of legal services where they will provide the greatest benefit.

The Poster Boy collective
Poster Boy describes itself as an artist collective based in Brooklyn, New York. Poster Boy is known for manipulating and repurposing self-adhesive advertisements in the platforms of New York City subway stations to create collage-like street art. Street Alchemy 2.0 centers on two altered billboards—one for State Farm Insurance and the other for The National Guard. Pictures from this exhibition can be found here.

Real Art Ways has a history of championing artists and artistic expression and promoting dialogue about censored works.

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