(Above) This “King Jesus” sign is super cool.

(Above) The white glow behind these heads make this sign pretty special, not to mention the hairstyles, which look almost like metal rods.

(Above) These mugshot style paintings above are quite nice. The colors, patterns and unique faces make this as funky as something one might find in a magazine like Juxtapoz.

(An Accidental Mysteries Blast from the Past January 11, 2009)

AFRICAN BARBER SIGNS, often painted by the shop owners themselves, have long been considered a form of folk art. What I like is the idiosyncratic nature of the signs, and the way they often use symbols as a way to communicate. For customers, one just walks up, points to a hairstyle and sits down. These signs, all in various sizes, are from Indigo Arts Gallery in Philadelphia, PA and originate from places like the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin and others. Sometimes these signs are found hanging in a marketplace stall, or simply hanging from a tree—with the barber standing next to a chair underneath. These signs not only advertise hair styles but other services as well (like shoe repair, as in the “King Jesus” sign above, one of my favorites).

The Museum of African Art in NY had an exhibition of these style of signs in the year 2000, as did the Fowler Museum of Cultural History at UCLA in 1995.

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