• Gibson Main Web

    Jeff Gibson "Armagarden," 2015 (click arrows for more images)
    On main billboard, in Hatton, Missouri, December 2015–February 2016

  • Gibson satellite WEB

    Jeff Gibson "Armagarden," 2015 (click arrows for more images)
    Installed March 2016, near O’Fallon, MO, at I-70 exit #216

  • Gibson satellite WEB

    View of Jeff Gibson's "Armagarden" from RV dealership lot where billboard is located (click arrows for more images)

  • Gibson satellite WEB

    View of Jeff Gibson's "Armagarden" from I-70 exit #216 overpass (click arrows for more images)

Gibson’s conceptual arrangement of Google images addresses I-70’s many ads for guns and gun shows while engaging the national gun-control debate. Are weapons as essential to our world as produce, part of the consumer bounty of American freedoms? Or does the equalizing of these banal Internet gleanings strike a cautionary note against insensitivity to violence, marking flowers as historical signifiers for peace? “Armagarden” takes no side in the argument, yet—like all Sign Show artworks—its potential meaning shifts when it appears in different contexts.
On the project main billboard, in rural mid-Missouri, Gibson's gun-garden content addressed surroundings where farming and hunting often are commonplace to how people live and survive in their environment. When his artwork moved to its second location—on a billboard in the middle of an RV dealership lot 30 miles west of St. Louis—it connected gun culture more to lifestyle choice and leisure activity. Appropriately, this new location also placed “Armagarden” at a literal crossroads: an interstate overpass whose signage for directions east and west seemed emblematic of a divisive political issue.
One way to think about “Armagarden” generally is in the spirit of the seventeenth-century Dutch "vanitas" painting, in which a beautiful arrangement of food and luxury goods reveals itself, on closer inspection, to be a scene of recent debauchery and immanent decay: broken crystal, plates of oyster shells, and lemons whose sensuous, curling, rind peels distract from the reality that the fruit will soon spoil. Death is the message of the still life, with the moral imperative to remember that our physical world is fleeting, and fragile, and to think about the beyond.
Jeff Gibson is an Australian-born artist and occasional critic. He has worked in a variety of media and contexts—photography, video, prints, posters, banners, and books for galleries and public spaces. A former senior editor of Art&Text magazine, Gibson moved to New York in 1998 to work for Artforum, where he is currently managing editor. Since arriving in New York, he has produced two artist’s books (Dupe: A Partial Compendium of Everyday Delusions [2000] and Sarsaparilla to Sorcery [2007]), exhibited on the Panasonic Astrovision screen in Times Square as part of Creative Time’s “59th Minute” program, and mounted solo shows at the New York Academy of Sciences, Stephan Stoyanov Gallery (New York), and The Suburban (Chicago). Through­out January 2011, two of the artist’s videos, Smoke and Asylum (both 2010), were projected onto the facade of the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York, as part of a curated series presented by Light Work and the Urban Video Project. His video Metapoetaestheticism, 2013, was exhibited in the 2014 Whitney Biennial.
For images and more information, see the artist's website.
video of billboard installation

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    Ed Ruscha, "Asphalt Jungle Panoramic Stretch" (detail), 1996
    On main billboard, in Hatton, Missouri, May-July 2016

  • Ruscha Satellite Context 1

    Ed Ruscha, "Asphalt Jungle Panoramic Stretch" (detail), 1996
    On satellite billboard in St. Louis, at I-70 East, Grand Boulevard Exit #247, September-October 2016

  • Ruscha Satellite Context 2

    Ed Ruscha, "Asphalt Jungle Panoramic Stretch" (detail), 1996
    On satellite billboard in St. Louis, at I-70 East, Grand Boulevard Exit #247, September-October 2016

Inserted among the hundreds of billboards that line the Missouri interstate, this work by Ed Ruscha connects the wide formats of sign and screen. An out-of-sync, old-fashioned movie reel frozen between title frames suggests both stasis and movement. The complete picture eludes us, much like the fugitive appearance of signs glimpsed from a fast-moving car. A narrative interrupted in the middle of its conclusion, "The End" becomes neither past nor future but something in between, a progressive, possibly immanent, event. Ruscha’s image—with its Biblical Old English font—speaks to the region's many Evangelical Christian billboards, some of which warn travelers that “Hell is Real” or ask them to imagine what they will say when they meet “Him” at “The Gates.” At the same time, ideas of endlessness and horizontality remind us more generally of the open road. Raised in Oklahoma, Ruscha is most closely associated with the culture and landscape of Los Angeles. The conceptual artist’s Sign Show installation recalls his Midwestern roots as well as some of his earliest work, from the 1960s, in particular his photographs of gas stations along Route 66.

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937) lives in Los Angeles. His paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, artist’s books, and films are held in the collections of major national and international museums. For information about Ruscha’s career and images of his work, see Gagosian Gallery and the Ed Ruscha Catalogue Raisoneé.
Getting There: Ed Ruscha is a video interview with the artist as he drives around Los Angeles.
video of billboard installation
The Ed Ruscha I-70 Sign Show billboard is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council and the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in Sign Show programming do not necessarily represent those of the NEH.
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  • CraigslistMirrors
    Eric Oglander, from Craigslist Mirrors series, 2016
    On main billboard, in Hatton, Missouri, May-July 2016 (click arrows for more images)
  • Craigslist Mirrors Billboard installation image
    Craigslist Mirrors, main billboard
    Site view with rotary tiller, on property of family farm (click arrows for more images)
  • Craigslist Satellite Installation

    Craigslist Mirrors, 2016 (click arrows for more images)
    On satellite billboard in Warrenton, Missouri, near I-70 exit #188, May-July 2016

  • Craigslist Mirrors Billboard installation image

    Donation box located directly behind the Craigslist Mirrors sign. (click arrows for more images)
  • Craigslist Mirrors image thrift store

    The one remaining shop in the Warrenton Outlet Mall. (click arrows for more images)
  • Craigslist Mirrors jean sign

    One of the few remaining signs over the mall's empty storefronts. (click arrows for more images)
  • Craigslist Mirrors parking lot

    Warrenton Outlet Mall parking lot. (click arrows for more images)

For his ongoing found-photography project, Craigslist Mirrors, Oglandler searches the classified-ad website for what he describes as "compelling photos of mirrors for sale." In collaboration with the artist, the I-70 Sign Show selected one of his archive’s many images of car mirrors and cars reflected in mirrors, then cropped and enlarged it to fit the 14-by-48-foot billboard. On the main sign in March–April, the Craigslist Mirrors billboard spoke to the issues of desire and identity embedded in the overall project, alongside the inevitable on-the-road themes of driving and car culture specific to the interstate site. In its second, satellite location, however, the image offers a more pointed and ironic message about digital culture, commerce, and reuse. After filling an otherwise empty billboard, the Craigslist Mirrors photograph hovers next to a failed and nearly abandoned outlet mall. Once geared toward bargain hunters, the mall has most likely been made obsolete, in part, by the convenience and sheer product volume of Web-based second-hand shopping and auction sites—for example, craigslist. The two cars pictured in Oglander’s billboard seem to emphasize the emptiness of the mall’s parking lot in the distance. It seems fitting, somehow, that the lone remaining vendor in the mall is a thrift store.

Video of billboard installation

Originally from Nashville, Oglander is a Brooklyn-based artist working in sculpture and photography. Craigslist Mirrors is the subject of a new book, “Mirrors,” from TWB Books. You can find more information on his project website and on Instagram @craigslist_mirrors and @oglander.
Copyright © 2017 — I-70 Sign Show
All artist images, copyright © the respective artists

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