Posters can be seen all over the place, but chances are most people don’t see them quite the same way as Harold Behar.
“Coalescing those thoughts down to something simple and powerful is a real art, a true art,” he said.
An opportunity to view a collection of posters from that perspective continues through July 21 at Unitarian Universalist Church of the South Hills in Mt. Lebanon.
Curated by Behar, the exhibit features 35 pieces by 19 members of the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative. The name of the group, with membership throughout North America, comes from the idea of calling attention to various issues that they believe need to be addressed.
“It’s thinking of art as being just a seed, a beginning of a shift, of social change,” member Mary Tremonte said.
She and fellow Pittsburgh resident Shaun Slifer, both of whom have posters in the exhibit, attended its May 30 opening as representatives of Justseeds.
“I was really nice to be at that opening and be reminded that there are like-minded people, our allies, in the suburbs, maybe where I wouldn’t really think to look for them,” Tremonte said. “That was refreshing.”
Her posters in the exhibit address the topic of acceptance. For example, one reads: “I see you & I love you.”
Other posters tackle the likes of war, climate change, education, immigration, reproductive rights, pay equality and prison reform.
“Art like this should provoke a conversation, and it does,” Behar said. “I saw it at the opening. I see it on Sunday mornings, when people come in and they look at a poster, and they stand there and talk about it.”
Behar, a principal in the advertising and marketing firm Behar-Fingal, first encountered the work of Justseeds artists on display in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood during a gallery crawl in November.
“I think this deserves to be seen a little bit wider than just by who’s coming to this small storefront, and I’d love to bring it to the South Hills,” he said in reference to his request for those in charge of the gallery crawl to release the work in the South Hills.
The Unitarian Universalist Church hosts a series of art exhibits, and Behar arranged for Justseeds to be in the rotation. He had the opportunity to visit the collective’s repository and select pieces he thought would work best for the purpose: “what fits the mission and social justice aspect of the church, but also, what’s a powerful piece of communication.”
The result is something in which he takes pride on behalf of the church.
“An artist friend who previewed the exhibit pointed out to me that this show could not be hung in many of Pittsburgh’s major galleries or art spaces,” Behar said.
“The messages of the collective could ruffle some feathers and chase away potential corporate sponsors. I thought about what he said and realized he was right. It made me happy that our church is considered a ‘safe space’ for people of many different belief systems.”