Psychedelic ’60s posters rock on at Toledo Museum of Art
TOLEDO, Ohio—Of all the visual art produced in the late 1960s, the most influential may be San Francisco psychedelic concert posters. Many are instantly recognizable because of their innovative use of text, psychedelic colors and coded messages. Not only do the posters visually define the period, but they also have shaped graphic design ever since.
This summer the Toledo Museum of Art is spotlighting these influential posters in a special exhibition. Some 150 posters from the Houston Freeburg Collection will be seen in The Psychedelic 60s: Posters From the Rock Era in the Museum’s Canaday Gallery through Sept. 12. Admission is free.
The highly collectible posters will rock the memories of many baby boomers while introducing newer generations to American popular culture symbols from the era of acid rock, free love and war protests.
Influenced by the surrealist, art nouveau, pop and op art movements, the artists include the legendary Wes Wilson, “father” of the 1960s rock poster movement; giants Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelly, whose work is strongly tied to the custom car and hot rod movement; Victor Moscoso, creator of the logo for the Family Dog, a collective that sponsored some of the earliest psychedelic concerts; Bonnie MacLean, wife of Fillmore concert promoter Bill Graham; Detroit graphic designer David Singer, and Lee Conklin, who made more than 30 posters to promote acts at the Fillmore.
The musicians who played at the Avalon Ballroom, the Fillmore East and West and other venues are recognizable, too: Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, the Byrds, Fleetwood Mac, Cream, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Joan Baez and others.
Of special note are 50 posters with fluorescent or phosphorescent colors that glow in the dark and represent the height of black light design. The themes often relate to the racial, sexual, political, feminist and drug issues then whirling through American society.
“Certainly there is a popular appeal to this exhibition, but there also is real art historical substance as well,” said Amy Gilman, the museum’s associate curator of contemporary and modern art. “These artists and their work had a very profound influence on graphic design and actually all print media since that time.”
In mounting the exhibition, the Museum has taken care to replicate the atmosphere of the late ’60s through sound, staging and lighting, including the use of black light when appropriate, so viewers become immersed in elements of the counter-culture the posters depict.
“There are many artists, many styles and a good range of bands,” said Gilman. “A lot of people did Jimi Hendrix posters, and you’ll see how different people had a different take on him. The black light posters are really varied. Some have a handmade look, showing their underground roots. The exhibition presents a great window on that time period.”
Admission to the Toledo Museum of Art is free. The Psychedelic 60s: Posters from the Rock Era and related programming is made possible in part by KeyBank, and with support from members of the Toledo Museum of Art and the Ohio Arts Council, which helps to fund programs with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.
The Museum is located at 2445 Monroe St. at Scottwood Avenue, just west of the downtown business district and one block off I-75. For general information, visitors can call 419-255-8000 or 800-644-6862, or visit www.toledomuseum.org.
Refer to the Web site for dates of the free Summer of Love Film Series and free hands-on activities for all ages.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE