I create small abstract collage works from repurposed billboards, posters and fliers—print remnants typically found glued or wheat-pasted to abandoned buildings or near construction sites. Inspired by the mid-century collage work of Jacques Villeglé, Mimmo Rotella and Raymond Hains, I was interested in examining the random graphic results produced via the urban environment—the haphazard rips and tears created by passerby—and set out to mine the streets for similar print detritus. Eventually, I found the textured underside surfaces more compelling than the front areas, and began to work with the back or “unseen” sections. Distressed, warped, and weathered, these multi-layered papers have been organically transformed by the vagaries of the elements. They are often found long after serving their original intended function, coarse and fibrous, morphing into a strange state of decomposition. With the oldest layer visible on top, dirt, soot, grime—the ugly by-products of manufacturing and air pollution—often combine with colored pulp, snippets of type, or random bits of imagery, to create an unseen poetry of the metropolis.
Mike Gabriel is a San Francisco-based artist who has created numerous rock ‘n roll posters, t-shirts, and fliers for a wide variety of musicians and performers. He has done lp/cd design for Sub Pop, Sympathy for the Record Industry, Alternative Tentacles, Yep Roc and Cass Records, working with artists such as Chuck Prophet, Kelley Stoltz, Andre Williams, Tuff Sunshine, and The Mooney-Suzuki. Between 2000 and 2010, he was the lyricist and a performer with The Sermon, a garage/punk band he co-founded on the Alternative Tentacles record label. Since 1999, he has been employed by advertising agencies such as BBDO; Duncan-Channon; Goodby, Silverstein & Partners; Y&R; Doremus, and Foote, Cone & Belding, creating print and online ads for clients such as Chevrolet, Intel, AT&T, Dickies, Toyota, McDonald's, Live Nation, Lego, and Stanford Children's Hospital. Raised in Pennsylvania, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University, where he also completed an Honors Thesis in Filmmaking.