Clad in a crisp pink Oxford cloth shirt and his trademark denim bib overalls, looking younger than his sixty-plus years, genial, full of energy and signing prints with a flourish and a black Sharpie, printmaker Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. was having a good time for himself Saturday afternoon, despite the sudden frigid winds and snow that howled up East Genesee Street. Asked when he was leaving, though, the Alabama-based Kennedy said, "Two o'clock sharp, before the real winter gets here!"
The opening reception for "Amos Kennedy Prints!" - billed as a "cash'n'carry sale" with all prints $20 each - occupied both main galleries at the Community Folk Art Center, where the exhibition remains up through April 4. It's stocked with hundreds of letterpress posters that Kennedy had produced over the previous three days. As part of what Kennedy brings to town when he does these events, he'd used that time - and a letterpress, type and other equipment lent to CFAC for the occasion by Harold Kyle of the local Boxcar Press and others - to turn the front gallery into a working print shop with local students, both from SU and area schools and after-school programs, as his crew.
The colorful, often multi-colored posters address racism, poverty, war, gender and financial issues as well as events and popular hang-outs, often in a distinctly Kennedyesque tone and many in topical series. "I knew God was a woman but I didn't know She was Black!" "Don't be a credit card SHARECROPPER!" "Doing the dishes is a part of eating. Eating is a part of sex. DO THE DISHES!" "Remember Stonewall 1969!" A series of posters from Tee's Lounge in Kennedy's 1,700-strong community urges patrons, "Be grown or Be Gone!" and "Ladies! NO Fighting in the Bathroom!" He pokes fun at politicians with "When a thief gets real good, he runs for office." There are African proverbs: "She who learns, teaches" from Ethiopia and "Children of the same mother do not always agree" from Nigeria.