Thursday, April 6, 2017

On the day of the 2017 unveiling, Nigel Redden talks about what makes a great Spoleto poster

Eyes up here

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Thu, Apr 6, 2017 at 1:06 PM

click to enlarge Charles Gaines created this work as part of his series, 'Numbers and Trees' - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Charles Gaines created this work as part of his series, 'Numbers and Trees'
Spoleto 2017 draws near and after this morning's unveiling, we can now put a poster to the festival's name. Artist Charles Gaines is the guy behind Spoleto Fest 2017's poster, with his work, Numbers and Trees IV, Tree 3, Spike. The masonite and acrylic image was actually created back in 1988, but festival director Nigel Redden considers its message timeless.

"This poster represents the festival enormously well this year," says Redden. "I thought it was appropriate for us because it seems to be hopeful and to be about birth, about the possibility of spring. Even though sometimes we may think May is summer, it is spring. It's a spring festival."

The idea of new growth isn't just a general one either — trees relate specifically to two of this year's productions, Eugene Onegin and Waiting for Godot. "Trees play a significant role in Eugene Onegin. The birchwood forest becomes, well, more than a forest," says Redden. "In Waiting for Godot there's a tree, there's always a tree. In the festival generally you can find points of contact between things that somehow have a connection."

click to enlarge Gaines - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Gaines
Gaines' poster image draws connections between numbers and colors — although even Redden admits that he isn't quite sure how the grid works. In the center of the poster you can see zeroes that spread out: 1 then 2 then 3 in all directions (you get the idea). Gaines, who was trained as a musician (because, artists), is currently writing an opera. "The way he writes music is also associated with numerology," says Redden.

We had to ask Redden — does he ever receive posters from artists that are not quite what he'd hoped for? "There's only been once or twice," he admits. "There was one artist who gave us an image that was anatomically correct. It is, I think, incredibly sexist, however, one can have naked women, but we can't somehow see male genitalia." Needless to say that poster never quite came to, err, fruition.

Fortunately for us, Gaines' poster strays toward the conceptual rather than the sexual. Redden says one poster unveiling attendee compared the image to the peninsula. We think it kind of looks like a heart — an anatomically correct one, at that. "I think that this is the wonderful thing, you get to interpret it as you like, and in some ways, it's the same with the entire festival," says Redden.

What do y'all think of this year's poster? Can we all agree that it's better than bad ones of the past? In case you needed a reminder, here's an ugly Spoleto poster roundup from the one and only, Chris Haire. Enjoy.

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