Uninked was an exhibit, curated by cartoonist icon Chris Ware, that ran at the Phoenix Art Museum in the Spring of 2007. It was mounted in the basement of the museum’s newly opened North Wing, giant paintings and tiny models somewhat awkwardly placed in an enormous, fluorescent-lit space. It was a little odd, but I enjoyed the exhibit a lot – especially seeing actual pieces by idols of mine like Gary Panter and Kim Deitch. This was the first time I was excited about something PAM did since they teamed up with Keith Haring on a few community-building projects in the late ’80s.
In addition to curating the exhibit, Ware also contributed original art and design to the Uninked catalog, published by Phoenix Art Museum in 2007. I was happy to receive it as a Christmas gift from my spouse, who volunteered at the museum recently (naturally, I dropped a few hints with Christopher about the book being sold at the gift shop). This catalog, a companion piece with the McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern Comics issue Ware edited in 2004, is a work of art in itself. Ware seems to genuinely admire the people spotlighted in the exhibit, a cross-section of artists including old-guard guys from the ’60s Comix movement (Deitch, Jerry Moriarty), a ’70s-’80s trailblazer (Panter), and two from the younger generation (Seth and Ron Regé, whose whimsical work was unknown to me prior to this exhibit). In addition to concise bios and reproductions of all the pieces from the exhibit, the book includes extra artwork not on display in 2007. It’s an intriguing peek at what kinds of work commercial artists create purely for their own expression.
The catalog for Uninked: Paintings, Sculptures and Graphic Work from Five Contemporary Cartoonists was printed in just one run, and it’s apparently getting harder to find. It can be ordered from Amazon.com here.