Sometimes the planets align, all seems right with the world, and good things happen to good people. That's what it felt like last night at the Brown Center, when MICA formally announced it was acquiring a substantial portion of Globe Poster's printing materials. As Lee Gardner reported a few months back in a City Paper cover story, the legendary show poster company had been hit with a double whammy of financial woes and health trouble, and its owners (Bob and Frank Cicero) were closing up shop after 82 years in business. The Ciceros rebuffed offers from auctioneers and collectors to sell the collection piecemeal—which would have netted them a quick buck and offered a quick exit—but, instead, they focused on keeping the collection together, keeping it in Baltimore, and making it available to students and the next generation of printmakers. A Friends of Globe group, headed by Mary Mashburn, drummed up support for that effort, and MICA (buoyed by a vocal group of design/printmaking students and faculty) made it happen. The lawyers still need to sign off on the deal, but, hopefully, that's just a formality.
Tuesday night, the mood was festive, as MICA warmly welcomed the Ciceros and paid tribute to Globe's legacy prior to a lecture given by Jim Sherraden of Hatch Show Print, this country's other legendary poster company. MICA President Fred Lazarus and graphic design guru Ellen Lupton both nodded to Globe's iconic status and storied past, while happily noting that MICA students will carry on the tradition and also find new and innovative uses for Globe's type, hand-carved wood blocks, and photo images. They also mentioned that MICA was hiring Bob to teach a graduate printmaking class. That's a classy (and smart) move. Imagine if a local group had bought the Colts just before Irsay called Mayflower, and then, announced they were building a new stadium and hiring Johnny Unitas to coach. It's kind of like that. And it really happened.
And Madison Smartt Bell's introduction of Sherraden was witty and smart, just like the lecture that followed. All in all, it was a perfect evening.