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Duluth artist is the poster child for poster art

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DULUTH -- What started as an artist dialogue at the end of April ended with a couple of dozen art aficionados covered in spaghetti noodles and Jell-O.

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David Moreira, who specializes in screen printing the concert posters seen tacked to bulletin boards around town, had an event on April 28 for his exhibition in the Corridor and Steffl Galleries at the Duluth Art Institute.

The agenda included a Q&A, music by local bands and a food fight.

“It was the first food fight I’ve had and the first I’ve tried to orchestrate,” said Moreira, who had permission from the art institute and enough plastic to contain the chaos, though maybe not the smell.

Moreira returns to the scene of the crime for a gallery celebration at 6 p.m. today at the Duluth Art Institute. The event includes music by Fever Dream.

There will be food, but it won’t be airborne this time, Moreira said.

“Hopefully everyone got the memo,” he said.

So, why the food fight?

Art institute curator Anne Dugan said it was a way to play off Moreira’s participation in community events.

“The food fight was sort of creating a happening,” she said.

It worked. The event got plenty of chatter afterward — and, for some, its essence remains.

“I don’t think the smell will ever leave my psyche,” Dugan said.

The work

Moreira, who works under the name Skatradioh, became interested in poster art after seeing works by Minneapolis-based artists such as David Witt and Adam Turman. He started screen printing gig posters for the punk bands playing local house shows.

The Corridor Gallery at the art institute has the posters hung in chronological order, starting with a multiple band bill held at the Planetarium. The space includes posters for bands such as The Keep Aways, Indulge, The Undesirables and Actual Wolf.

“Every poster has a story,” he said.

Moreira started working in his own basement, moved to the garage and now has studio space downtown. He lives as a full-time artist, creating the album covers and show posters for Chaperone Records’ roster of bands. He’s also the go-to guy for promoter and event planner Eric “Heiko” Edwardson.

The ultimate mark of success: The amount of gig posters by Moreira that get stolen from bulletin boards.

“Generally half or three-fourths are always taken down,” Edwardson said. “I actually judge how well shows will do by how many posters are gone.”

Likewise, it’s not unusual for Moreira to find his work out of context.

“I’ve been to houses of strangers or people I’ve just met and they have a poster or two of mine,” he said.

Fever Dream

Moreira’s biggest job so far has been his work with Fever Dream, the banjo-player gone keyboardist Marc Gartman’s latest project. The album, on the Chaperone label, features saturated blues and pinks and superimposed images of a woman in bed.

Both the coloring and the image, Moreira said, add to the 1980s aesthetic of the band. The actual record is bright pink vinyl.

Gartman’s take: “I love it.”

“I realized very early that the way to get the best work from him was to not lead him with anything,” he said. “Just let him do what he wants.”

Fever Dream gets its own section of the art institute exhibit alongside other Chaperone Records’ projects.

Bob Monahan, president of the label, said Moreira’s work with bands led to him becoming the in-house screen printer for the label.

“It was me sort of seeing an opportunity to work with Dave on a consistent basis and have him represent us and giving him lots and lots of work to do,” Monahan said.

The show

The Corridor Gallery features the band posters Moreira has created over the past few years. The Steffl is reserved for his larger pieces and works created for a series.

Dugan said she thinks Moreira’s art is phenomenal.

“There is all sorts of movement in the posters,” she said. “The characters and the imagery are really active and engaging so I wanted to show off what he had done and give him the opportunity to grow as an artist.”

Moreira said he is grateful to have his work on display.

“I definitely carved out a place for myself that people value,” he said. “The community wants me here to do this thing. … I never imagined anyone would care that much.”

Go see it

What: Duluth Art Institute gallery celebration featuring work by David Moreira

When: 6-10 p.m. today

Where: Duluth Art Institute

Also: Music by Fever Dream

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