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Designer Set To Sell Artist's Proofs of The Inaugural Bristol Rhythm & Roots Poster to Benefit 606 State Street Gallery Artists Cooperative

September 10, 2012

Malcolm J. Wilson, the Bristol, Tennessee digital artist, designer and photographer responsible for the creation of the very first Bristol Rhythm and Roots poster, will be selling from his personal collection of original artist’s proofs, twenty seven original posters from the festival’s first year on Sunday, September 16 at 1:00pm in the 606 State Street Gallery in historic downtown Bristol. The proceeds will benefit the State Street Artists’ Cooperative, the group of artists who display at the gallery.

The artist proofs were the first posters to come off the press for Wilson’s approval before the final press run.

According to Wilson, who moved from the Greater Cincinnati area to Bristol in May 2000, it was only his second major design project as a Bristolian.

“When I first moved here, back to the mountains, I along with my new wife, Jennifer Molley Wilson produced the 2000, award winning, Bristol United Way Campaign brochure. Terri Talbert, Bristol, TN Director of Community Relations, had seen the piece, and asked to meet about the production of a poster for a new downtown festival, first titled Bristol Rhythm and Roots Revival. The city, who at the time managed the event in concert with Bristol, Virginia, had agreed to fund the initial event, and wanted to begin its promotion immediately,” explained Wilson.

“After Terrie learned that I was a mountain boy, having been born and raised some ninety miles from Bristol in Harlan County Kentucky and that I had spent the last twelve years in Cincinnati as marketing chair for the Greater Cincinnati Appalachian Festival, now in its forty third year, she signed me on to begin promoting what has been honed into one of the greatest music festivals in the southeast.” Wilson said.

Wilson added, “After reviewing my work from the Cincinnati music event, including several award-winning posters and other marketing materials, it was decided that ‘the road home’ would serve as a fitting theme, considering both Bristol’s musical heritage and the many folks who come from Bristol and live in Nashville, among other places, and continue to be successful working in the music industry. The image in that poster represents a generic musician who might have traveled to Bristol to be a part of the original recording sessions or who arrived to play for live radio, heading home after the gig. Perhaps she planned on catching the train, or as we did a lot in Eastern Kentucky, using the railroad tracks as a sidewalk home.” Wilson said.

Wilson explained that symbolism still holds true today as musician from all over the country, and the world, come to play Bristol, and merge into today’s melting pot music scene that has seemingly developed an unstoppable synergy.

“That synergy can be directly attributed to the annual growth of Bristol Rhythm and Roots, the determination to complete the Cultural Heritage Center, Border Bashes, concerts at the Country Music Mural, an ever growing list of new clubs, restaurants and venues for musicians to perform and international attention like the recently filmed in Bristol, PBS Music Voyager TV series, the Mumford and Sons Gentleman of the Road Stopover and of course, the big bang of country music that began right here with the first Bristol Sessions in 1927,” he said.

Wilson chose twenty-seven of the original posters to represent the 1927 sessions and the current membership roster of twenty-seven artists who are presently members of the 606 State Street Artists’ Cooperative. Each poster will be signed and personalized if the buyer wishes. They will be sold for $125 each, unframed, first come, first served beginning at 1:00pm on Sunday at the 606 State Street Gallery during this year’s BRRR festival.

Terrie Talbert, who originally sought the services of Wilson to design the First Annual Bristol Rhythm and Roots poster, was happy about Wilson’s decision to sell these originals from his personal collection.

“With the great job Leah Ross, the staff, volunteers and committee members have done to refine and nurture Bristol Rhythm and Roots, the unparalleled cooperation with downtown businesses and Believe in Bristol’s work to continue to expand the Border Bash series events, the Bristol Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Pick Bristol initiative and our continuing expansion of the music mural concert series, it is wonderful to know a new audience is seeing the importance of visual arts in relation to our deep seated traditions in performing arts” she said.

“Just look at all the growth we are witnessing now in visual arts with the 606 State Street Gallery, Blowfish Emporium, Benjamin Walls Gallery, One of A Kind Gallery, Bridgeforth Design Studio, Kiln Time and so many other venues that are being established either as stand alone visual arts venues, or as a part of other, already established businesses. I’ve known for many years that Mr. Wilson had a collection of the original prepress run posters, and it’s wonderful to see him use them for the betterment of the Bristol arts scene.“ Talbert added.

When the original poster was printed, Wilson was standing by the press and, once he approved the quality, 2000 were printed and delivered to Talbert.

The posters in Wilson’s collection are from the quality check before the quantity counter was activated and the city’s posters produced. Wilson explained these posters are no different in quality than those originals received by the city over twelve years ago. They are on the same paper, printed on the same day on the same press using the same inks.

“When I learned that the printer was going to destroy those first prints, I asked to take some of them with me, beginning at the point where the color and quality were a match to my specification. They have been aging like fine wine in a dark, dust-free environment and look as good as they did twelve years ago. Having recently been accepted as a member of the 606 State Street Artists Cooperative, displaying my photography and digital paintings, I knew that the time was right to uncork some from my collection to help the cooperative grow and expand its services to its membership and all the arts patrons around the region,” Wilson said.

These pieces are unique on several levels according to Wilson.

“Not only are these from my personal collection and some of first to come off the press, but many people don’t realize that the actual dates of the first festival aren’t on the poster. This was the only year the dates don’t appear. When the poster was designed, dates for the event hadn’t been set, yet the cities wanted to begin promoting it to garner interest not only from musicians, but potential sponsors, as well. If you have one with the dates on the poster, that came from a sticker that was later attached by hand once the dates were set,” Wilson said.

Wilson added, “I have designed hundreds of items over the years, but these hold a very special place with me. They were so popular that they disappeared into marketing history about as fast as they were designed, and many collectors are eager to have a complete set of posters from every year. I’ve seen the first year posters sell online, unsigned, for as much as $150 and signed versions bringing as much as $250 over the past few years. Twenty-seven folks are going to get a piece of Bristol Rhythm and Roots history come Sunday,” he said.