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Mike McDonald

Gingham Style

New art show proves it’s hip to be square

April 8, 2014, 12:00 am

Perhaps it has to do with the recent 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death or with the fact that any given day, one third of SFR staffers are dressed in it, but one thing is certain: It’s a plaid, plaid world.  

Artist Nina Mastrangelo has found inspiration in the pattern, and this Saturday presents Plaid All Over, an interdisciplinary exhibit that features works by over 40 artists and celebrates all things plaid. 

“I’m actually not drawn to plaid,” she tells SFR, adding that credit for the subject matter goes to exhibit co-organizer Cheri Ibes. “She figured plaid would be this thing that everybody likes.” 

The plaid partay features ambient soundscapes by Tufa, a performance by local poet Christopher J Johnson and, true to form, a bagpipes serenade by Peter Hraber. 

“It’s a celebration of plaid, which is something ordinary people wear,” Mastrangelo continues. “It has roots in tartan—which is a family symbol.”

Indeed, the criss-crossed vertical and horizontal banded pattern goes as far back as 100 BC and was created by the ancient Celtics. Way before its grunge debut, plaid kilts were a sign of Scottish rebellion against England.  

Its power was such that British government banned the pattern with a law dubbed “The Dress Act of 1746” which was enforced for close to 40 years.

In preparation for the show, for the last three months Mastrangelo collected plaid ephemera and photographed people she would encounter that were wearing the pattern. 

“Once you start looking for plaid, you start seeing it on everybody; I call it the reticular activator,” she says. “And once it’s activated, plaid is everywhere. That’s why we decided to call the show Plaid All Over.”

The mechanism, it turns out, is a difficult one to turn off.

“Now that I’m observing plaid—it’s interesting—it’s like putting on a pair of rose-colored glasses and observing all the pink things,” she says. “Now I’m seeing the subtle variations in plaid and what works and what doesn’t. I’ve become a connoisseur of plaid.” 

Plaid All Over
5-9 pm Saturday, April 12.
Counter Culture,
930 Baca St. #1,


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