RON MIRIELLO, THE COLLECTOR
The collection of 75 posters from throughout the Soviet Union was compiled in 1989, by Oleg Savostiuk (Secretary of the Union of Soviet Arts) and Philip Risbeck (Colorado State University design professor and renown poster designer) expressly for the San Diego Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). "I remember cracking opening the wooden crate full of posters that finally arrived in San Diego from Moscow. There were massive boot marks across the inside of the crate....we had actually made real one-to-one, designer-to-designer contact with the Soviet Union." Says Ron Miriello/1989 show chairman.
As a new chapter of AIGA, the San Diego Chapter was looking to make a statement about the power and potential of design to effect change. The group of San Diego designers that comprised the founding AIGA board, worked on faith for more than a year to promote an exhibition they had no guarantee would ever arrive. A few weeks before the event, the infamous wooden crate containing The Soviet Poster Show, arrived for framing, photos and translation, in time for it's October 1989, premier at the then La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art. Oleg Savostiuk and Philip Risbeck were also in attendance, to explain the posters to Americans and to extend a hand of friendship.
The show went on to tour several US cities in the early 1990s before it was eventually warehoused for several decades. Founding AIGA board member and chairman of the original collection effort, Ron Miriello, acquired the collection in 2014, with the intention of returning it to circulation in a new and different era of Soviet-US relations.
"The show was a breakthrough event in several ways. It seemed in 1989, we were witnessing a watershed and permanent change in relations with the Soviet Union. The collection has become a rare snapshot-in-time of major political change. Now, 25 years later, these posters hold a different meaning, a sort of nostalgia for an unforgettable time in Soviet history. I'm psyched to see what happens to them next," says Miriello.
The exhibition was made possible by the efforts of the 1988, founding members of the San Diego AIGA Chapter. They include among others: Esther Coit, Ann VonGal, Richard Salzman, Dennis Gillespy, Brian Lovell, Tom Lewis, Susan Merritt, Mary Jane Nelson, Adam Rowe, Carol Kerr, Richard Carter, Tyler Blik, Cheryl Dine, Lillian Svec, Jim Crouch and Susan Merritt.