For its first 18 years, Taste set itself apart from other newspaper food sections — and from other sections in the Minneapolis Star — by devoting its entire cover to an artist-designed poster.
The weekly posters, which were the Star’s version of the New Yorker magazine’s distinctive illustrated covers, were certainly an attention-grabbing dose of color in what was otherwise a mostly black-and-white newspaper.
“They were revolutionary,” said Patrick Redmond, one of a small group of Twin Cities artists enlisted into an ad hoc Taste design guild. “The posters showed a great commitment from the Star to do creative and innovative images for the paper. It was an exhilarating experience.”
Delivering messages through the poster medium was also a spot-on reflection of the times.
“Posters were such a cool art form back then,” said Susan Dietrich of Minneapolis, another early Taste post cover contributor. “They were important in the way that the covers of record albums were important, and talked about.”
Over the years, the posters ran the stylistic gamut: woodcut-like techniques, the rebelliousness of the psychedelic craze, Pop Art minimalism, the 1970s revival of the streamlined Art Deco look, and more, a reflection of the contributing artists’ wide range of talents and interests.
“There wasn’t anyone at the time doing anything like it, and that was the point,” said Jim Martin, who designed many of the standout covers himself.
The weekly poster cover’s demise was inevitable. As the section’s page count began to shrink, it was no longer prudent to reserve that much real estate for an illustration when readers clamored for recipes and stories.
“And photography kind of took over,” said Nancy Entwistle, a retired Star Tribune designer and poster-cover contributor. “People wanted to see what things looked like.”
What was left was a rare and valuable newspaper publishing legacy: nearly a thousand works of art, printed on fragile newsprint.