Friday, August 26, 2011

Signs and Wonders: Margaret Kilgallen's Inside Job

Hand painted signs by Margaret Kilgallen, circa 1996-1999
Courtesy Book Arts & Special Collections
San Francisco Public Library

During the 1990s while she was working in the Library's Preservation Department, artist Margaret Kilgallen made hand painted signs for the Technical Services work areas. The original hand lettered signs greeted library workers for years, until Technical Services began the move to another building down the street from the Main Library. A plan was hatched to reproduce these fragile signs for the new work spaces, while preserving and placing the originals in the Book Arts & Special Collections Center.

Margaret's wonderfully folksy signs identify such operations as Bindery Prep, Book Repair, Catalog, Periodical Processing, Receiving, and more (ten panels in all). Painted on door skin using recycled paint, the signs were made with an eye for the beauty of the letterform and brought immediate cheer to the workplace. The Library staff love that Margaret made these signs just for them, and we're happy that we could preserve them for you!

Here's a recent interview with former SFPL conservator Dan Flanagan in which he talks about Margaret's art, her work at the library, and her unique point of view (from KQED's Gallery Crawl, July 2011).

Margaret also created zines: Nellie Was There and Fly By Night may be found in the Little Maga/Zine Collection, Book Arts & Special Collections Center.

Read and view more about Margaret Kilgallen:

Art in the Streets organized by Jeffrey Deitch; with Roger Gastman and Aaron Rose (New York, NY:  Skira Rizzoli in association with MOCA, Los Angeles, 2011)
Art:21 Art in the Twenty-first CenturyExecutive producer and curator, Susan Sollins
([Alexandria, Va.]: PBS Home Video, c2004)
Beautiful Losers. A film by Aaron Rose; co-director Joshua Leonard
([United States] : Oscilloscope Pictures, c2009)
Glen Helfand, "The Mission School: San Francisco's street artists deliver their neighborhood to the art world," San Francisco Bay Guardian, August 26, 2002 [Accessed 26 August 2011]
Margaret Kilgallen : In the Sweet Bye & Bye. With texts by Alex Baker, Eungie Joo, and Susan Sollins (Los Angeles : REDCAT, c2005)

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