| | Monday, March 30, 2009

Friday, April 10 at 7:30 pm, Russell Howze presents a slide show at Northtown Books from his book "Stencil Nation: Graffiti, Community, and Art", which features over 500 full-color photographs.

The book presents work by more than 350 artists from 28 countries, including Iran, Australia, Japan, Canada, Spain, Lebanon, Israel, and the United States. Featured artists include: Banksy, Jef Aerosol, Logan Hicks, Adam5100, Arofish, M-City, SWOON, Hao, John Fekner, Peat Wollaeger, Klutch, and others.

Russell Howze saw his first stencil in 1990, which was J. R. "Bob" Dobbs on an apartment wall in Clemson, SC. In 1995, Russell saw an amazing sight on the exterior wall of the Reichstag in Berlin: a huge stenciled Bertolt Brecht poem. He snapped a photo of that stencil, then found one in Budapest, Hungary. Then a few more stencils appeared in Basel, Switzerland. When he landed in San Francisco in 1997, he found dozens on the sidewalks of the Mission and Haight neighborhoods. He's never stopped photographing the sometimes temporary, always intriguing art form.

In 2002, Russell created the first version of Stencil Archive, thinking that he would have time to scan and upload his own collection before anyone discovered the site and submitted their own work. He was gladly mistaken, so Stencil Archive took off and ended up becoming a site with over 10,000 uploaded photographs. At the time of its inception, Stencil Archive was the only international stencil site out there (for a few months). Now there are dozens of sites with tens of thousands of photographs. Russell continues to curate his site, posting stencils from around the world and featuring dozens of amazing artists.

When not photographing, making, painting, and uploading stencils, Russell fills his time by doing one or more of the following fun things: being a carny for the Sustainable Living Roadshow, riding his bike, writing for his blog, cooking healthy food, creating vector art and putting it on stickers and buttons, producing events, puppeteering, listening to good music, traveling, and volunteering/protesting to make the world a better place.

He currently lives in San Francisco's Mission District, and is usually seen on his bike with his camera slung around his shoulder.

A "vibrant exploration of a sub-sub-genre.... [T]his volume crosses the globe for a swift tour of the world's best artists, making it a handsome and insightful introduction to the form." - Publishers Weekly, 10/16/2008

UPDATE: We had a packed house here at Northtown, and Russell enjoyed kicking off his tour here.


Ivan G. Goldman said...

February 15, 2009

The Barfighter.
Goldman, Ivan G. (Author)
Apr 2009. 248 p. Permanent Press, hardcover, $28.00

At 41, Lee Cheskis is a part-time junior-college instructor and day laborer. He learned to box in college. Drafted in 1965, he boxed to avoid being sent to Vietnam. Articles he wrote after his discharge about the Bay Area counterculture won him a job with the New York Times, but his career and his marriage ended in four years. Now, two decades later, he’s living in a garage apartment, unloading moving vans, working out in a boxing gym, and getting into fistfights in bars. In a court-mandated anger-management class, he meets and subsequently becomes the manager of a gangbanger who wants to learn to box. Boxing has fallen off the professional sports map, and it’s unlikely that many readers under 40 have ever read a boxing novel. Ideally, this fine book will change that. Goldman, a columnist for Ring magazine, illuminates a largely unknown world and tells an engaging tale of redemption filled with vividly drawn characters. The Barfighter is wryly funny, insightful, and warmly human. —Thomas Gaughan

Kirkus Reviews February 1, 2008


A witty, fast-paced, well-plotted addition to boxing literature from The Ring magazine columnist Goldman (Where the Money Is, 1995). The novel opens in Los Angeles in 1984. After cold-cocking a cop in a bar fight, Lee Cheskis is sentenced to anger-management class. Flash back to 1965, when Cheskis, then an Army draftee, devoted himself to boxing as a way of avoiding deployment to Vietnam. He learned savagery as a means of avoiding savagery, and the moral implications of what he did to a friend have haunted him ever since, through a brief career as a newspaper journalist and onward into teaching at a community college and moving furniture. Cheskis is a taciturn, damaged guy who evades all questions about his past. He’s recently reconnected with boxing and has been working out under the tutelage of crusty Eddie Welsh. When a hard-nosed gangbanger from his anger class asks for an introduction, Cheskis finds himself sucked into a boxing adventure; Marvin “Quick” O’Brien is good, and he quickly ascends the heavyweight ranks with Cheskis as his manager. His association with O’Brien also forces Cheskis to confront his past, as he encounters his Army coach and mentor Valaitas, who played a crucial role in the misadventure he’s been running from. The prose sometimes lacks literary finesse, and certain characters seem stock, but Goldman more than compensates with plentiful action, pungent dialogue and colorful peripheral figures ranging from Ken Kesey and Neal Cassady to a promoter who bears a resemblance to Don King. Entertaining and acutely observed—and the boxing milieu and mindset are utterly persuasive. A winner.

Publishers Weekly December 15, 2008

The Barfighter Ivan G. Goldman. Permanent, $28 (248p) ISBN 978-1-57962-182-7
Goldman (Where the Money Is) brings to life the sleazy underbelly of professional boxing in the 1980s, where double crosses, thievery and cheating were commonplace. After instigating a bar brawl that leads to his arrest, former army-trained boxer and journalist Lee Cheskis lands in anger management class. There he meets Marvin, the former gangbanger who is desperate to box. Lee introduces Marvin to Eddie, the salty old boxing trainer and gym owner, who discovers that Marvin is a natural. As Marvin works his way up from small auditoriums to big arenas, it becomes obvious just how seedy and disreputable the boxing world really is as fighters, fights and allegiances are easily bought and sold. Goldman's ear for dialogue and snappy pace make this latest an entertaining read, and boxing fans may recognize some of the sport's famous personalities as inspirations for the characters. Though the boxing-as-salvation story is nothing new, readers will root for this little band of misfits to succeed against the odds. (Apr.)