Punk Rock Street Art: David Ensminger’s Visual Vitriol Launches Today

Argh. I meant to post about this earlier in the week, but other stuff kept getting in the way…sigh.

Today (Sat., July 9th, that is) is a very cool happening, going on at a few different venues — it’s the official launch of the brand-new book by local punk hero/documentarian/zine editor/college professor David Ensminger (of The Biscuit Bombs & I believe also the more recent No Love Less, not to mention the classic punk zine Left Of The Dial), entitled Visual Vitriol: The Street Art and Subcultures of the Punk and Hardcore Generation.

I have yet to read the book (although I hope to at some point soon), but I freaking love the premise, which is basically that punk rock show flyers can be viewed as a form of art in themselves rather than as quick, disposable trash. I’m old enough to have played in a band when promoting a show meant hand-crafting your own flyer from whatever you had on hand, on real-live paper, cranking out copies on whatever copier you could wrangle/afford (I owe a belated thank-you to the staff copier at the Rice Univ. Library, btw), and then running ’em all over town to whatever club or bar or store you thought wouldn’t chase you across the parking lot for flyering.

It was pretty much the ultimate in DIY, and it wasn’t a choice, like it is today, when you could just as easily come up with a flyer on your laptop and print off 60 copies on a home printer (assuming you’re even printing ’em anymore, of course). It was a necessity. And yet I was always amazed at how creative the flyers I saw ended up being — I collected ’em for quite a few years, although they didn’t survive one of several post-college moves, sadly.

In his book, Ensminger (who also teaches folklore, composition, & humanities at Lee College over in Baytown) reportedly takes a critical, scholarly look at the flyer art of his punk-rock youth, interviewing folks from crucial punk bands/influences like Black Flag, The Buzzcocks, & Minor Threat along the way. And the author is definitely an expert on the material — in the process of writing the book, he’s also spent the past several years collecting flyers from all over and putting ’em online via his Ozone City Outrage site, which is a fascinating read in itself.

I’m very curious to check it all out; much as I love/loved DIY flyer art in general, I’d never really thought about it from a sociological/art-crit standpoint…

To celebrate the book’s release (it’s being published by the University of Mississippi Press, btw), Ensminger’ll be appearing at Domy Books from 7-9PM tonight, along with photographer Ben DeSoto and members of Mydolls, Really Red, the Party Owls, & others. At 9PM, then, there’ll be a screening of the guy’s short film, Chronicles from the Zero Hour, and a discussion of the film afterwards. The Domy part’s all free, naturally.

Later still, the party shifts over to Rudyard’s for the second part of the WE MAKE PARTY shows that started last night — tonight’s lineup includes No Love Loss, Here Holy Spain, Mydolls, and Vivian Pikkles & The Sweethearts Über Alles, which sounds pretty great to me.

Get on out, grab a copy of the book, glory in punk rock’s artistic past, the whole deal. Seriously, go.


2 Responses to “Punk Rock Street Art: David Ensminger’s Visual Vitriol Launches Today”

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 2: Folk Family Revival (Rev’d!) + Dax Riggs + Devin The Dude + Wails + Jealous Creatures + More on July 9th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    […] of things, like the benefit for Blues in Hi-Fi DJ Clint Broussard and the second day of the two-day WE MAKE PARTY shows up at Rudz in celebration of David Ensminger‘s new book on punk-rock flyer art, but […]

  2. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 1: Literary Greats + Finnegan + Quiet Company + Balaclavas + Jealous Creatures + Wheel Workers + More on May 2nd, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    […] it was originally just the first night of the kickoff for Visual Vitriol, David Ensminger‘s awesome-sounding book on punk-rock flyers as art, but then Austin music scene heroine Esmé Barrera was tragically murdered on New […]

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