During a typical election year, the walls of Sacred Grounds Cafe in Edwardsville, a popular study spot, are lined with posters of various themes and colors for patrons to take as they wish. This year, the display is hands-off, but the posters are being displayed online.
The display is thanks to The Gogh-Getters, an Edwardsville-based group that showcases local artists. They have been putting together The Get Out the Vote Poster Show for presidential elections for the past 12 years.
The team starts by collecting poster designs from the American Institute of Graphic Arts and local artists, and then displays them. Kerry Smith, a founder of The Gogh-Getters, said the team makes sure to keep most posters bipartisan, and the ones that aren’t represent both left and right points of view.
“All of the AIGA posters — the rules are they have to be bipartisan — so they are simply to encourage people to vote. On the other side of it, we invite a handful of designers across the country or friends around here to submit designs, and there are no bipartisan rules there. They can do whatever they want, and we did invite people from left and right sides,” Smith said.
Curator for The Gogh-Getters Steve Hartman said they hold the event because of their mission statement.
“It’s just our duty to encourage people to vote. It’s our mission to share art that’s topical, and right now there’s probably nothing more topical than the election coming up,” Hartman said.
The group is composed of four members. Along with Smith and Hartman, Dave Thomas of Dave Thomas Design and Jim Harper of The Corporate Electric Agency contribute as well.
The team usually sets up the show with stacks of posters on the wall, available to take and redistribute as viewers please. With COVID-19 precautions, only one of each poster will be available on the wall, and the team has instead made all the curated designs available to view, download and print on their website.
“This year is a little bit different because we don’t have as much traffic going through the coffee shop, and we don’t want to encourage too many people touching the wall this time. It could possibly spread germs … I’m not going to stop anybody from walking in and taking a poster that’s there now,” Hartman said.
This year, the show is featuring work from designers well known in the art world, like Robynne Raye, Art Chantry and RJ Shay. One featured artist, Milton Glaser, is responsible for the famous “I Heart New York” logo.
This election is made unique due to it taking place on the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Smith said they took this into account when collecting designs for the showcase.
“Many of the designs you’ll see on our website and in Sacred Grounds are not only celebrating the 100 years of women’s rights to vote, but they also are from women designers across the country, and they’re really beautiful pieces,” Smith said.
Political science professor Laurie Rice said voting is important, and it’s something people should take advantage of.
“I would encourage young people to use their right to vote. There’s a lot of people that struggled to secure the right to vote,” Rice said. “It wasn’t something that came easily. It took a lot of effort to expand the right to vote to women, and it took a lot of effort to ensure that all African Americans could actually use the right to vote.”