The Denver Art Museum
(DAM) gives a nod to the social revolution that celebrated free love, rock music and experimental design in The Psychedelic Experience: Rock Posters from the San Francisco Bay Area, 1965-71. The exhibition will feature approximately 300 works from the DAMs newly acquired collection of posters promoting dance concerts and other gatherings that have become iconic symbols of 1960s and 70s youth culture. In addition, album covers, underground newspapers and comics, and other material will round out the presentation, accompanied by music, film and activities to evoke the era. Organized by the DAM and curated by Darrin Alfred, DAMs AIGA assistant curator of graphic design, the exhibition will be on view March 21 through July 19, 2009.
It all began with the music; as the San Francisco sound grew more popular, a poster-making industry came into being to promote it, Alfred explains. Like the rock music they served, these posters remain a record of the consciousness of some of the most perceptive, intelligent and creative youth of the 1960s.
The exhibition will take visitors through the psychedelic poster movements early years, where artists were inspired by the sensory overload of the dancehall environment, and reproduced it in their work. This was a time when rock music was differentiating itself from rock n roll, and the San Francisco music scene was stirred by multiple musical influences including the British Invasion, the American folk music revival, Chicago electric blues and soul sounds from Memphis and Detroit. In later years, the posters took on a surrealistic tone, with dreamlike and hallucinatory designs that appealed to the eras drugoriented youth culture.
Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the era of experimentation and free thinking through video, music and interactive components in the Martin & McCormick Gallery. Day trippers can share their memories from the period, experiences with the music and their take on the visual culture of the time. A postermaking station, outfitted with all of the materials and inspiration needed to create a modern-day psychedelic poster, will be on hand.
Do-It-Yourself light shows and 60s music listening stations complete the psychedelic journey.
Included in the exhibition are prominent poster patrons, including renowned dance promoters Bill Graham of the Fillmore Auditorium and Chet Helms of Family Dog. Artists featured in the exhibition will include the movements major contributors: Wes Wilson, Bonnie MacLean, Alton Kelley, Stanley Mouse, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, Lee Conklin and David Singer.
In January 2008, DAM announced it had acquired 875 psychedelic posters from Boulder, Colo., collector David Tippit. The collection consists of five sets, including a full first-print set of the Bill Graham and Family Dog series (1965-1970); a first-print set of Russ Gibb/Grande (1966-1970); a set of Neon Rose (1966-1968); and a fifth set comprised of important miscellaneous posters and handbills from 1965-1973. The DAM is the first museum to acquire a full collection of first-print sets of this size. Complet