The typical poster for a rock n’ roll show is characteristically chock full of images of wizards with lightning erupting from their palms, tripped out shapes and colors, and stylistic wording but not, as one could believe is the case with visual design innovator Rolyn Barthelman, baby toys. However, even though he made his name as a forward thinking visual and conceptual artist creating projects for children, Barthelman is far from your typical producer of toddler’s playthings, he is an artist focusing his energy on the creation of a unique and aesthetically engaging experience for young children and their parents. Barthelman is the force behind the visual aspect of Wee See, a conceptual art and child development DVD series that is billed as “a gentle introduction into our visual world and has garnered praise from across the art community. Now he is turning his eye towards the music world with his poster for Preteen Zenith’s first ever live performance at the Gorilla vs. Bear Festival at the Granada on July 23 (BUY TICKETS HERE).
Barthelman’s main project, the Wee See DVDs, are geared towards infants but with their bold, minimalist style and engrossing sense of movement, can be taken just as seriously by older art aficionados. Simplistic geometric shapes colored in strong black and white move across the screen at a pace slow enough for eyes and minds just entering the world, but are indescribably polarizing as shapes move and change at a snail’s pace, revealing secrets and images that take the viewer for a ride through the world of basic geometry. Barthelman is highly regarded in the Dallas area not only for his trailblazing style in geometric artistry, but also for his lifelong friendship with former Tripping Daisy and current Polyphonic Spree frontman Tim DeLaughter. DeLaughter has provided the score for Wee See and is partnered with Barthelman in the project. When Barthelman heard about the momentous unveiling of DeLaughter’s new band Preteen Zenith at the Gorilla vs. Bear Festival (BUY TICKETS HERE), Barthelman knew it was time to repay DeLaughter’s contributions to Wee See and give his partner the visual accompaniment his new band so rightfully deserved.
Barthelman designed the visually striking poster for Preteen Zenith’s debut performance seen above in his trademarked style. Clean, bold lines in the lettering of the poster show off the firm handle Barthelman has over geometric shapes and eye popping colors make the poster virtually impossible to ignore. But instead of sticking with the postmodern monotone of Wee See, Barthelman has chosen to work in shades of purple, orange, green, blue, and yellow over the running lettering of Preteen Zenith. The colors run together as the lettering is placed against a spacey backdrop of clouded blue sky, creating the illusion that the words Preteen Zenith are lifting off into the final frontier or of a tall, technicolor skyscraper brushing against the clouds. An affecting and groundbreaking image combining the calculating nature of geometry and industry and the flowery, childlike psychedelia both DeLaughter and Barthelman have become known for.
Rolyn Barthelman has created a new way to design the rock show poster, not just a piece of paper with as many tough or head trip images packed in as possible, but a piece of art that transcends typical genre definitions and our conceptions of what a concert poster is really advertising for the viewer and concert goer. Tickling the child within us while simultaneously making a strong statement about rock music with his poster, Barthelman captures the essence of Preteen Zenith’s style perfectly, at least as perfectly as one can glean from “Extraction” the recently released teaser for Preteen Zenith’s music. Rolyn Barthelman is a mind in the art world we are lucky to have looking forward, whether it be with Wee See or future concert posters, the artist is sure to continue to shock and amaze us and bring about the wonder and awe that is lingering inside all of us along with our inner child.