Best Bets: Letterform Archive Hosts Zine Graffiti Exhibition ‘Subscription To Mischief’


By Bay City News

What most people recognize as graffiti art arose in the late 1960s in such places as Philadelphia and especially New York, which, by the early to mid ’70s, was the unofficial capital of an art form that many people opposed. Created by everyone from political activists blasting ideas to gang members claiming turf to rebellious young artists with a flair for spray-paint penmanship, graffiti to many in the mainstream represented a defiant underbelly of society that could not be restrained. And a lot of it was marvelous. By the late ’70s, cities were cracking down on graffiti with a variety of means, but artists found new forums to display their talents. During the ’90s, vibrant and spirited graffiti zines took root, echoing the scruffy, DIY style and ethos of punk, underground rock, tattoo art, graphic novels, and more. And since pretty much every slice of the ’90s has gotten a new look in the past several years (did we really need a “Full House” reboot, people?), it’s about time someone revisited the graffiti zine golden years. Someone has. San Francisco museum Letterform Archive has just opened what’s said to be the first extensive exhibit in the country looking back at the indie graffiti zines, as well as the artists and writers, that flourished in the ’90s. Titled “Subscription to Mischief,” the exhibit offers examples and insights into more than 40 zines as well as details and history about artists involved and methods they employed. The show was created by Letterform Archive’s librarian Kate Long Stellar with guest curators such as Greg Lamarche, a famed artist and creator of one of the scene’s best-known publications, “Skills.” The exhibit runs through Nov. 1 at the museum, 2339 Third St., fourth floor, in San Francisco. On Thursdays from 1 to 8 p.m, admission is free. On Fridays through Sundays, the museum is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and admission is $10 (free to those 12 and under). More information is at

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