Globe’s Groove coming to Cambridge

The evening will include a documentary film about Globe, and a Q&A session with printers Bob Cicero and Mary Mashburn.

The evening will include a documentary film about Globe, and a Q&A session with printers Bob Cicero and Mary Mashburn.

CAMBRIDGE — Downtown Cambridge kicks off 2019 with a special event, Globe’s Groove, a pop-up exhibition of dazzling show posters at Gallery 447. The event, which runs Feb. 2 from 6-10 p.m., will highlight the work of Globe Poster, the legendary printing company known for creating classic posters for the likes of James Brown and Otis Redding.

The evening will also include a sneak peek at a documentary film about Globe, and a Q&A with printers Bob Cicero and Mary Mashburn. Admission is $20 for advance tickets or $25 at the door, including 1 drink ticket. A beer and wine cash bar as well as light refreshments will be served.

For decades, Globe’s DayGlo posters covered the urban landscape — stapled to walls, telephone poles, and tree trunks — connecting musicians to their fans through a combination of street cred and eye-catching design.

Globe posters embodied the history of African-American music and reflected its vitality with a design aesthetic that’s become iconic over the years. “You can pretty much trace the development of African-American music through Globe’s work over the years,” says John Lewis, curator of the exhibition and director of an upcoming Globe documentary. “From Muddy Waters, Aretha Franklin, and James Brown to Tupac and Jay-Z, they made posters for all the greats.”

Founded during a card game in 1929, the Baltimore-based company initially prospered by printing for vaudeville performers, theaters, burlesque houses, carnivals, and fairs. Globe really hit its stride in the 1960s and 1970s, promoting up-and-coming musical acts. Joe Cicero Sr., the son of a Sicilian shoemaker, started at Globe in 1935, worked his way up the ladder, and eventually bought the company in 1975. His three sons joined him at Globe, which garnered a stellar reputation and remained a family business until it closed in 2010 after 81 years in business.

As Globe’s closing loomed, the Ciceros rebuffed offers from auction houses and memorabilia collectors to break up their archive and sell items piecemeal, because they preferred to keep the collection intact. Beyond that, they envisioned it remaining in Baltimore and making it available to students and future generations of printmakers. This was the best-case scenario, and this is precisely what transpired — in March 2011, the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) purchased Globe’s collection of wood type and woodcuts as well as some of the old posters. The school also hired Bob Cicero to teach printmaking, which he’s been doing for the past seven years.

Mr. Cicero and MICA’s Mary Mashburn will be on hand to answer questions about Globe’s history and rebirth. It’s a telling and timely story, one that dovetails nicely with Downtown Cambridge’s (Cambridge Main Street) mission to promote and rejuvenate Cambridge’s historic assets.

Gallery 447 is located in the historic Phillips Hardware Co. building at 447 Race Street in downtown Cambridge.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit downtowncambridge.org or call Downtown Cambridge at 443-477-0843.

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