In life, we have to pause to ask ourselves the important questions: If a tree falls in the woods, and no one hears it, did it make a sound? Just how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? And will flier-famous Dan Smith ever teach us guitar? That last one might be specific to the New York region where Smith did most of his advertising — but all urbanites can likely relate, regarding the ephemeral signage that makes up their daily landscape. And that’s exactly what inspired Boston-based artist Geoff Hargadon to create his “Cash for Your Warhol” campaign and hang it around cities all over the country. “I’ve collected signs from the street for years now, like bed bug removal, tattoo removal, insurance for diabetics, etc.,” Hargadon told us, “not only because of what they say, but what they say about us that we would respond to them.”
This interest began around the financial crisis in 2009, when Hargadon began noticing bright yellow “predatory” signs that said things like “Cash for Your Home” in cheesy fonts. After seeing signs like this over and over, “Cash for Your Warhol” just sounded good, a funny phrase that popped into his head — and then he decided to move forward with the idea. He contacted the actual company that makes the “cash for your” signs in Oklahoma and had them printed up with his phone number. “I wanted it to be the kind of thing where if you saw one, you wouldn’t even really see it because you’re so accustomed to seeing those things, or maybe people would do a double take,” he said. And of course, whether or not it was his intention, the idea of seeing something so much that it eventually loses its meaning is quite a Warholian concept.
But the response was much different than what he expected: “All sorts of people were calling and taking pictures, putting them on Flickr and Facebook, and the next thing you know, people were calling me from Germany at 3 a.m.,” he recounted.
Now, you can hear over 150 of those calls in a sound installation that will be part of a show called “No Questions Asked” at Philadelphia’s LMNL Gallery opening on Friday, featuring Hargadon’s photography of the signs out in the wild, newly screen printed images of the logo, and each of the 25 different versions in the flesh. “I don’t care about critical acclaim or selling anything,” Hargadon said. “I just care about sharing an idea, and at the core I think that’s what art should be.”
“No Questions Asked” is on view at LMNL Gallery through April 25.
— Terri Ciccone (@TerriCiccone)
(Photos: Courtesy of the Artist)