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  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Installation view of Reilly Gallery October 28 - December 12, 2015 Providence College—Galleries

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Installation view of Reilly Gallery October 28 - December 12, 2015 Providence College—Galleries

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Joe Amrhein, "A Fallibility of Perception," 2014, Enamel alkyd paint on mylar. Courtesy the artist artist and Jochen Hempel Gallery, Berlin and Leipzig.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Andrea Bowers, "Educate, Agitate, Organize," 2010, low voltage LED lights, Plexi-glass and aluminum. Courtesy the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Steve Lambert, "Everything You Want, Right Now!," 2009, paint, wood, Plexi-glass, carnival light bulbs. Courtesy the artist and Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Steve Lambert, "It’s About Power," 2009, paint, wood, Plexi-glass and carnival light bulbs. Courtesy the artist and Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Jeremy Lundquist, "Perishables #1," 2015, Color lithograph, #1 in a series of 20 unique prints. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Jeremy Lundquist, "Perishables," 2015, Color lithographs, Series of 20 unique prints. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Jeremy Lundquist, "Perishables #19," 2015, Color lithograph, #19 from a series of 20 unique prints. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Alberto Aguilar, "Thoughts Passing," 2014, paint marker on Glo paper. Courtesy the artist.

  • Eric May and Alberto Aguilar, "No Food for Thought Posters," 2012, 8 of 30, paint marker on Glo paper. Courtesy the artists.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Eric May, "Self-Titled Posters," 2012, paint marker posters on Glo paper. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Archie Scott Gobber, "Yes, I'm Open," 2015. Courtesy the artist and Haw Contemporary, Kansas City

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Archie Scott Gobber, "Sorry for Closed," 2015. Courtesy the artist and Haw Contemporary, Kansas City

  • Brandt Brinkerhoff and Katherine Walker, "Fairytale Protests: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," 2012, Offset print on paper. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Brandt Brinkerhoff and Katherine Walker, "Fairytale Protests: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," 2012, Offset print on paper. Courtesy the artist.

  • Brandt Brinkerhoff and Katherine Walker, "Fairytale Protests: Peter and Wendy," 2012, Offset print on paper. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Patrick Martinez, Werd, 2014, neon and Plexi-glass. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Patrick Martinez, "keep it real," 2008, neon and Plexi-glass. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Patrick Martinez, "basic ass math," 2015, neon and Plexi-glass. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Installation view of Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery: Providence Painted Signs, "Atkinson Reproduced (Quickly in Ink)," 2015, acrylic and pencil on the wall. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Installation view of Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery: Providence Painted Signs, "Atkinson Reproduced (Quickly in Ink)," 2015, acrylic and pencil on the wall. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Installation view of Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery: Providence Painted Signs, "Atkinson Reproduced (Quickly in Ink)," 2015, acrylic and pencil on the wall. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Installation view of Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery: Providence Painted Signs, "Atkinson Reproduced (Quickly in Ink)," 2015, acrylic and pencil on the wall. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Installation view of Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery: Providence Painted Signs, "Atkinson Reproduced (Quickly in Ink)," 2015, acrylic and pencil on the wall. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Installation view of Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery: Providence Painted Signs, "Atkinson Reproduced (Quickly in Ink)," 2015, acrylic and pencil on the wall. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Installation view of Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery: Providence Painted Signs, "Atkinson Reproduced (Quickly in Ink)," 2015, acrylic and pencil on the wall. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Installation view of Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery: Providence Painted Signs, "Atkinson Reproduced (Quickly in Ink)," 2015, acrylic and pencil on the wall. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Installation view of Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery: Providence Painted Signs, Detail of "Atkinson Reproduced (Quickly in Ink)," 2015, acrylic and pencil on the wall. Courtesy the artist.

  • A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign

    Installation view of Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery: Providence Painted Signs, Detail of "Atkinson Reproduced (Quickly in Ink)," 2015, acrylic and pencil on the wall. Courtesy the artist.

A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign
October 28 - December 12, 2015
Providence College Galleries

Artists: Alberto Aguilar (Chicago); Joe Amrhein (Brooklyn), Andrea Bowers (Los Angeles); Brandt Brinkerhoff & Katherine Walker (Chicago/San Francisco); Archie Scott Gobber (Kansas City); Steve Lambert (Beacon, NY); Jeremy Lundquist (Minneapolis); Eric May (Chicago); Patrick Martinez (Los Angeles); and Providence Painted Signs (Providence).

A Sign Only Has to Serve as a Sign is an exhibition featuring contemporary artists who merge fine and conceptual art methods with sign making, text, advertising, activism and socio-political commentary. Its title—a line from Italo Calvino’s paradoxical short story “A Sign In Space”—ponders the ways, means and complexities of communication as well as the general reasons—commercial, activist and informational— for making signs. Focusing on forms of signage developed out of mid-century American advertising, examples of hand-painted lettering, carnival lights, neon, printing and more are represented. Of course, the use of sign-making methods within fine and conceptual art is not new or critically undocumented, and this exhibition therefore showcases lasting traditions as key to new canons of text-based art. Included artworks homage the rich art history of text as visual composition, highlighting the sometimes overlapping, sometimes disparate realms of visual art, poetry, advertising and protest, and demonstrating artists’ responses to multiple consumerist and political elements of contemporary American life.