Artist Spotlight on Legendary Oregonian Printmaker Earl Newman
“It’s been 75 years of designing, drawing, and sketching. Maybe 80 years,” artist Earl Newman said with a laugh.
No one should fault Earl Newman for losing track of time. After all, the self-employed artist has created unforgettable posters and silkscreen prints in a career that began back in 1960 in Venice, California. Newman made a name for himself there early on, referring to it as simply having been at “the right place, at the right time.” This is, of course, most notably when he designed the first promotional poster for the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1963.
This ground-breaking opportunity led him to design one or two posters each year for the festival, spanning 50 years. Even when he and his family headed north in 1972 to call Summit, Oregon their home, he stayed connected to Venice, making posters for both the Jazz festival and the Abbot Kinney Street Festival.
The Arts Center of Corvallis’ 50th anniversary coincides with Newman’s 50th year of creating Monterey Jazz Festival posters, and it will all come together in an exhibit from Thursday, Nov. 21 to Saturday, Dec. 7.
You may not realize it, but if you’re a fellow Oregonian, chances are you’ve seen Newman’s recognizable poster designs in many locations already, including the Oregon Shakespeare Theater Festival in Ashland, at OSU theater events and at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. The man’s influence has permeated Oregon culture in a way that few artists ever could. But it’s not just Oregon that he has had an impact on.
Sixty-two of Newman’s Monterey Festival posters are archived in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of History in Washington, DC. His prints have featured the likes of Ray Charles, BB King, Etta James, and many more.
Perhaps ironically Newman originally envisioned himself as a landscape painter and simply made prints to pay the bills. Many successful years later, silkscreen printing is his legacy.
In his biography he expresses why he enjoys printing, “I’ve been able to reproduce my designs in volume, usually 100 at a time. It’s like having 100 canvases on which to experiment, using different colors of papers and inks, varying the color blends as I go along. Thus no two prints are alike.”
If you’d like to check out Newman’s brilliance in person, his ’50 years’ exhibit at the Arts Center will be open from noon to 5 p.m., starting Thursday, Nov. 21. He’ll appear at a special reception that same day following the exhibit at 5:30 p.m. To commemorate this 50th anniversary, his prints will be on sale for $50 each during the exhibit. He will also be selling his prints and more during the Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, Nov. 23 at the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship Church, 2945 NW Circle Boulevard, Corvallis.
Additionally, Newman will participate in a Brown Bag Art Talk at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the Arts Center, 700 SW Madison Avenue, Corvallis.
Quite the busy guy, Newman says he’ll also be discussing his 50 years of poster-making at the OSU Alumni Association’s Academy of Lifelong Learning on Thursday, Dec. 5 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. An event no artist or art lover should miss.