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Shopping Bags Part V, The International Scene: Shopping Bags Go Worldwide
Curated by William J. Dane
Third Floor Gallery
September 20th through December 30th, 2000

Nearly every department store and boutique, countless sports shops, toy stores, software retailers, food emporiums, candy stores and one-of-a-kind specialty shops around the world, provide custom designed shopping bags for customers to take away. Not too long ago, merchandise was rolled into old newspapers when leaving the shop. The bags in this exhibition come from a huge variety of sources and present a kaleidoscope of different design strategies. Some bags are very simply designed putting across a contemporary image for the originating establishment. Others stress sophistication and elegance reflecting a high-powered world of advertising, television commercials, Hollywood and fashion glitz. Strong visual impact is the real goal so that shoppers carrying bags are portable publicity for stores all over the world as part of 21st century daily life around the world on city streets, large and small malls, and wherever people gather.

An exhibition centered on the design and production of shopping bags, a portable art, is on view in the Third Floor Gallery of The Newark Public Library from September 20th through December 30th, 2000. The show of highly popular items is entitled, "Shopping Bags Go Worldwide", and it focuses on the international development of highly useful and decorative bags that are a part of urban and mall oriented daily life in the 21st century. Carefully edited from the total collection of over 1,000 bags, one hundred bags from France, Italy, Russia, and the Ukraine, England, Japan, China, Israel and other geographic and political areas of the Pacific Rim. Curated by William J. Dane, the Library's Keeper of works of art on paper the exhibit is often playful in spirit with a selection of bags highlighting Mickey Mouse and other designer creatures from the animal kingdom.

During the 1970's and 1980's, Bloomingdale's department stores produced scores of bags for special events arranged in their stores. These to this day remain a high point in this specialized field of design. A wide selection from this source is shown which demonstrate the spirited vitality and high originality from this up-scale commercial firm. There are colorful bags featuring American patriotic holidays and special national events. Red, white and blue are the colors shown in volume with lots of stars and stripes emphasized to make the visual statement very clear. The huge domestic market generated by holidays in December is noted with the display of Christmas bags from major retail outlets. The local scene is represented by a salute of bags from the much missed Hahne's Department store on Broad Street in downtownNewark along with other long-gone business firms, large and small, which stir up warm feelings of nostalgia for many people. A grouping of notable, prize-winning designs on bags from international sources points out the highly competitive spirit which are part of the background creative environment of these now essential items for all serious shoppers. A grouping of miniature bags for doll's houses and other toy-related objects that delight children is shown along with odd and unusual shaped bags from specialized retail sources.

A section of this colorful display is given over to books and other publications issued by the international design community. These generally note the best examples of bag design and production during a specified time span. This is a lucrative field for designers and manufacturers of paper products with the shopping public as the ultimate winner for high standards of design which regularly use imaginative logos, lots of colors and solid construction with handles of some sort as an essential feature for contented clients and customers.

A wide variety of design elements are demonstrated with a grouping of bags using one pattern or logo covering the front, back and both sides for an all-over design to confirm the message and reveal the source. There are also a dozen oversize bags from luxury retailers which vividly convey the visual appeal many of these portable art items have for the street scenes and promenades in huge malls and popular shopping centers around the world. Many are so attractive that collectors save them for future use or just to enjoy carrying around for multiple reasons. This Shopping Bags Part V show is open during regular Library hours and, as always, is free to all visitors to the Main Library at 5 Washington Street in downtown Newark's developing cultureplex. For additional details or specific information, please call 973-733-7745.

William J. Dane
Supervising Librarian, Special Collections


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