San Francisco Psychedelic Poster Art Archive
October 10, 2002 6:12 AM   Subscribe

High Art. Rick Griffin's famous flying eyeball poster is considered by many to be the single finest example of San Francisco psychedelic poster art. The image comes from this fabulous motherlode of eye candy that is Paul Olsen's Fillmore and Avalon poster collection. It is the largest and most complete collection of its sort. He would like to sell it as a whole--The Whitney Museum wants to buy it but can't afford it. That should tell you something. Come step behind the Indian bedspread curtain and smell the incense.
posted by y2karl (20 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The very first rock poster, later known as the Seed, was made by George Hunterof the Charlatans for 1965 gig at the Red Dog Tavern in Virginia City, Nevada. The Charlatans were more famous for their look than their sound and Hunter, more than any other person, was responsible for the whole Edwardian cowboy strain in early Bay area fashion. His second drummer was a guy by the name of Dan Hicks, by the way. Hunter was a musician, designer, artist and furniture maker in that order. That whole wood, brass and fern bar thing that happened in the 70s came from him as well. But, apart from creating the first rock poster ever, he was not a poster artist.

Rick Griffin, Alton Kelley, Stanley Mouse, Victor Moscoso, and Wes Wilson were the big five of San Francisco psychedelic poster art.

The late Rick Griffin, a surfer cartoonist from Palo Verdes, who first learned to draw by copying from Mad magazine, creator of the iconic Murph the Surf, attended art school and then moved to San Francisco to become the most mystical and technically accomplished of all the psychedelic artists. The flying eyeball in BG 105, the poster from the first link—explained here by Eric King of the definitive guide to rock and roll poster art—came from an acid vision that led to his conversion to a very 60s Christianity. He did the covers for the Dead's Aoxoamoxoa and Jackson Brown's Late For The Sky, among others, and was an underground cartoonist of some note as well—his cover for Zap #3 is my personal favorite.

Victor Moscoso, one of the more formally trained San Francisco poster artists, was considered the best designer of the 5. He is still making art.

Also still active is Stanley Mouse, another hot rod artist by origin—he claims Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's Rat Fink is based on, if not ripped off from a drawing of his--is responsible for the emblematic Grateful Dead Skull and Roses (FD 260), which in turn was derived from one Edward J. Sullivan's un-copyrighted illustration from the 1859 edition of Edward Fitzgerald's translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam ( more here) --according to San Francisco's Metroactive article on the intricacies and ironies of the Bay Area's poster collectors market. Yet he has many other beautiful posters to his name. His partner in Mouse Studio, Alton Kelley, did this Avalon poster for Big Brother and Jim Kweskin that owes more than a little to Alphonse Mucha.

Wes Wilson, more than any other San Francisco artist, is the source for what one wag called the 48 point Illegible psychedelic fonts. This early Wilson poster advertises Lenny Bruce's last appearance.

As for this unusual landscape poster by Mouse for the Family Dog's Avalon Ballroom, well, I have a story of my own.

Besides the multi-talented and unhumble Paul Olsen, who's had quite a life, and is looking for a model/muse , cough, I got help from Poster Art Of San Francisco, pOoTer's pSycheDelic shack and, where I found this picture—that is so the 60s to me.

posted by y2karl at 6:14 AM on October 10, 2002

He would like to sell it as a whole--The Whitney Museum wants to buy it but can't afford it. That should tell you something.

The only thing it tells me that the Whitney has some scruples.

Does this mean that the SixtiesTM will never die?
posted by tommyspoon at 6:25 AM on October 10, 2002

Linkedelic! I'll be back to comment in about 2 days ;-) Cheers y2karl.
posted by i_cola at 6:34 AM on October 10, 2002

Could you please put a little more effort into your next post?

These 44-linkers are starting to betray a decided lack of effort.

but seriously, way cool. gracias.
posted by gottabefunky at 7:05 AM on October 10, 2002

wow, i wonder if the flying eyeball poster inspired beholder and beholder-kin!? ;D
posted by kliuless at 7:33 AM on October 10, 2002

My co-workers and I are marveling at all these hand-drawn works: "how many hours did that one take? And cutting the color seps would have taken several more hours ..." We are expected to pound out most of posters in about an hour--another example of how computers have changed things.

I am particularly fond of the ones by Bonnie Maclean.
posted by whatnot at 7:43 AM on October 10, 2002

I did one of my famous explosion paintings (I squeezed acrylic tube paint around a firecraker, which held it upright, lit the fuse, and ran away) I was known for in the 60's, using two Camel Brand firecrackers I had saved from way back then, and they worked! Bill Wyman and Ringo, who were sitting just 6 feet away, grabbed a tablecloth and covered themselves with it so as not to be splattered by flying paint.

That's so cool. Party treats for the next fireworks fest.
posted by stbalbach at 7:45 AM on October 10, 2002

Groovy. I had no idea that Rick Griffin converted to Jesus Freakdom; a really interesting movement that synthesized hippiedom and 1st-century communal Christianity in a way that most people today, used to the strict fundamentalist interpretations of Jerry Falwell and Ralph Richardson, have no clue ever existed in this country.
posted by MrBaliHai at 7:51 AM on October 10, 2002

Hey, y2karl, who do you think you're fooling, man? Some of those links don't have mouse-overs! And the addresses of where all the posters were put up are also missing, Mr La-fuckin'-conic!

Wonderful work! Thanks!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:04 AM on October 10, 2002

There's a good documentary (scroll down to "Red Dog Saloon") called "The Life and Times of the Red Dog Saloon" (mentioned on Dan Hick's site), with lots of footage of the San Francisco scene and Fillmore shows from the period.
posted by liam at 10:27 AM on October 10, 2002

Man, that's like stumbling across an old trunk in the attic of your parent's house and opening it up to find the stuff you hid away from 35 years ago - I still love that Vanilla Fudge poster - got it around here somewhere. Thanks for the flashback, Y2karl......
posted by Pressed Rat at 10:47 AM on October 10, 2002

this could take all afternoon:) I love the 'airplane' posters. I have a friend whom has many, 'Grand Funk Railroad' posters. cool links Karl.
posted by clavdivs at 11:10 AM on October 10, 2002

thanks! you make an old man cry!
posted by Postroad at 11:58 AM on October 10, 2002

I don't even care what Karl posts about -- I just love reading his title attributes. And yes, that last picture brings back the '60s so much better than the more famous images we're all bored with...
posted by languagehat at 12:03 PM on October 10, 2002

cool deal! - my parents have had this one up in their house my whole life.
posted by ggggarret at 1:14 PM on October 10, 2002

Thanks Liam - I ordered a copy Ive never seen clips from the period. Along with a Pink Floyed filler that show John and Yoko before they met -- whoa man trippy lol.
posted by stbalbach at 5:24 PM on October 10, 2002

The hand lettering is really nice. Font designer Leslie Cabarga designed a gorgeous typeface called Love, based on the lettering work of Wes Wilson. Wes Wilson based his lettering on the early 1900s works of Alfred Roller.
posted by iconomy at 6:01 PM on October 10, 2002

Great collection of links. I love this stuff.

There's also newer artists still creating great posters in the same vein. Artists like Jermaine Rogers, Mark Arminski, and Darren Grealish, and lest I forget, there's Bob Masse, who's been creating great posters since the 60s.

Some other places to check out some of the current poster designers are flatstock, and
posted by mikhail at 11:01 PM on October 10, 2002

Boy, this turned out better than I ever thought it would... Work on a post for hours, post it and then get peed on inside of 11 minutes.

I 'd hear Wilson had derived his font from a German artist and looked all over but I had no name and found nothing,. That is an awesome, awesome link--I only wish I had it before I made the post. Thank you so much, iconomy!

And whatnot, for various PC reasons, I wanted to mention MacLean --aka Mrs. Bill Graham--her skills are ample but... she drew her own stuff and her designs are too redolent of contemporary advertising art of the era for my tastes, it's more department store mod than thrift store hip for me. I couldn't get behind it, nicely done as it is.

Of course, I knew less about her before now as I passed over this About the Artists page. Man, that Mouse and Kelly link made think about the collages, the copyright issues and the whole technology of it. I mean, all this happened before PCs, X boxes, microwaves, CDs, cassette tapes, running shoes, bottled water and photocopiers. We barely had color TV then.

And I skipped it 'cause of the Yahoo Shopping and all--well, for similar reasons, I have issues linking to an Amazon page.

And you would, too, if you ever had to work in one of their warehouses with all those est trainer type leads and the banners with the mantras of Chairman Bezos on them hanging from the rafters--it's Godwin-eriffic!

Yikes, liam, thanks for that Videobeat, that is a treasure trove!

And you know, I'm not nostalgic for the 60s at all, yet there was that time from '65 to '66 that something happened, which got lost in '67 and was dead by '68.

And when you think about it, hippy was only a decade old when punk appeared and here in Seattle, you've got people in Mohawks and plaid pants with dropped suspenders and too many zippers, let alone goths, walking around 35 years later in the same outfits. I should feel bad because I lived through a time when everything was new and each kiss was an inspiration. Oh, wait a minute, that's Stardust. But anyway, neener, neener, we got to do it all first--
< nelson muntz>Ha Ha < /nelson muntz>

Oh, and ps, I ended up going to the Big Brother website and read this, e-mailed the guy, sent him this link and dang if I didn't get an answer. That is so cool.
posted by y2karl at 11:27 PM on October 10, 2002

Thanks so much for this wonderful post! You will surely be rewarded in heaven.

Slightly coincidentally, I was only minutes ago looking at this page which has examples of text that tricks the eye (click the thumbnails to see larger images, otherwise you can't appreciate the "trickery" part), and it's fascinating to recognize so many similar styles in this collection; here, for example. Yet another example of transcendental surfing! (Also of interest, SEX.)

y2karl, re: the picture that epitomizes the '60s for you, you can put yourself in that picture. Visit New Orleans for Carnival, and on Fat Tuesday morning go to Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny and find the Krewe of Kosmic Debris. Bring your tambourine.
posted by taz at 12:13 AM on October 11, 2002

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