Spoleto releases best poster in years, a look back at the worst

You won't have to cover your eyes this year

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The poster for Spoleto Festival 2016 - JONATHAN GREENE
  • Jonathan Greene
  • The poster for Spoleto Festival 2016
The headline says it all: Spoleto just unveiled its poster for the 2016 season, and it's without a doubt the best poster they've had in years.

In part, it's because the 2016 poster was designed by local fave Jonathan Green — the painting in question is titled "Harvest Gathering" — and, well, he gets dibs just for being local. We kid, we kid.

The truth is, not only is the 2016 poster colorful and vibrant, it's not some kind of abstract who-ha. More importantly, Green's work is representative of one of the broader themes of this year's Spoleto: The Issue of Race. From Porgy and Bess to the performance art piece Grace Notes to the hip-hop dance show Opposing Forces, Spoleto 2016 has a keen eye on our country's — more specifically, our town's — racial woes. 

Not surprisingly, Spoleto General Director Nigel Redden has nothing but kind words about the poster. “Jonathan Green is a wonderful visual artist renowned for his iconic depiction of Gullah culture in the Lowcountry and his insight into the people whom DuBose Heyward described in his novel, Porgy. His vibrant colors, his unique vision of Gullah life, his way of making a simple scene seem monumental, will all make Spoleto Festival USA’s production of Porgy and Bess something to remember," Redden says. "Having his work featured on the poster is an extension of this tremendous contribution to what promises to be a truly celebratory 40th season.”

Hear hear.

Now, if you're one of those poor souls who's wondering why we're getting all titterpated about Green's poster — in fact, I can hear you now: "It's just a poster, for Pete's sake, not the second coming of Philip Glass — let us remind just how bad Spoleto's posters have been in the past. 

Warning: Some of you may want to avert your eyes. We're not joking.

Anyhow, here's the worst of the worst over the last couple of years, in descending order. 

2011
We loved the White Stripes. In fact, Elephant is a right nice slice of garage blues with a blast of post-divorce rock 'n' roll doom and gloom and navel gaze. But we question Spoleto's decision to go with a poster that looks like a Meg and Jack White album cover toss off. 
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2010
We mocked the 2010 poster quite relentlessly when it first came out, but over the years this one has grown on us, and we're not talking about that mole on your left buttock that looks like a melted army man. No, we really like falling-down-the-rabbit-hole effect of the image, even though we still have no idea what the connection between South Carolina and Delaware is. Wait, wait — you mean that's Rhode Island? Our bad. Nah. Still flippin' clueless. 
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2015
We like the World Cup. We like drinking Hurricanes on Bourbon Street. We like bongs. But we didn't need a Spoleto poster that reminded us of all three. Still, it's colorful. Props for that.
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2013
Did you have an Etch-a-Sketch as a child? If you did, you know that anything you made with it was a way better than this minimalist abyss.
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2014
There is a message here, we're sure of it. But we just can't decide if it's about the prison-industrial complex or the prison of modern industry or if somebody tried to tidy up a much better painting and in the process absolutely destroyed it. This is the Batman v Superman of Spoleto paintings. It's a festival poster that has nothing but disdain for festival posters. Even worse, it will follow you home and TP your yard when you go to sleep.
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2012
I'm pretty sure this is the first image ever taken of the human soul. Unfortunately, it is the soul of Donald Trump. Or Lee Bright. Or Zack Synder. We get those guys confused. 
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