Graphic design is everywhere all the time, but for at least another week it’s highly concentrated in UC Davis’ Design Museum, 145 Walker Hall in Davis. That’s where the Sacramento Art Directors and Artists Club (ADAC) has mounted a free, sizable exhibit—more than five dozen artists; roughly a shitload of images—called Spoken with Eyes: Glimpses of Post Dot Graphic Design.
Maybe the universe itself is a grand design, eh? Who knows? It’s a lovely idea, notwithstanding annexation by people who feel deeply threatened by their genetic similarity to primates. In any event, the more our world and our minds fill up with information, the more responsibility we have to consider how information should look. At the very least, this show investigates what design can do nowadays—its potential as a counterforce to chaos and blight. As the flier puts it, “Spoken With Eyes sees a media-laden world and asks which messages have resonance.”
Displayed artists include many striving undergrounders but also some established big shots. Chris Ware settled the matter of graphic novel as fine art once and for all. Jay Ryan is the indie-rock poster boy—in the sense that his posters for rock shows have become events in and of themselves. Sandow Birk’s wry surfer-dude adaptation of Dante’s Divine Comedy transposed the poet’s demonstrably timeless epic into the hell, purgatory and heaven of today’s urban America—and may yet secure Birk’s legacy as the 21st-century heir to Gustave Doré.
Resonance, by Spoken With Eyes’ estimation, has broad reach. It allows for elegance, whimsy or menace, but it demands real vision. The show was set to end on the 30th but has just been briefly extended. Get there.