Posted: March 18, 2009
Denver Art Museum goes psychedelic
San Francisco rock poster exhibit debuts SaturdayBy Mike Cote
The Doors. The Grateful Dead. Big Brother & the Holding Company. Jim, Jerry and Janice.
Mention these artists and you immediately conjure up late ’60s San Francisco where the flower children got hip to the latest bands at the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore Auditorium. And posters blazing with bight colors, curvy letters and surreal images announced the latest shows. In a word: cosmic.
The Denver Art Museum transports rock fans to that era with “The Psychedelic Experience: Rock Posters from the San Francisco Bay Area, 1965-71.” The exhibit, opening on Saturday and running through July 19, features about 300 works from the museum’s newly acquired collection of posters from the late ’60s and early ’70s promoting concerts and other youth gatherings. Underground newspapers, LP album covers plus music and film round out the experience. Expect to hear the Dead and Santana.
Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse, Zig Zag/Big Brother and the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, 1966. Collection of David and Sheryl Tippit; Family Dog © 2009 Rhino Entertainment
“It all began with the music; as the San Francisco sound grew more popular, a poster-making industry came into being to promote it,” said Darrin Alfred, DAM’s AIGA assistant curator of graphic design, in a prepared statement promoting the exhibit.
In January 2008, the museum announced it has acquired 875 psychedelic posters from Boulder collector David Tippit. The five sets include a full first-print set of the Bill Graham and Family Dog series from 1965-1970. Among the artists represented, some are still active, including Victor Moscoso and Lee Conklin.
The exhibit will be on view in the Aschutz Gallery and the Martin & McCormick Gallery in the Hamilton Building. For details, click here.
Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse, Skull and Roses/Grateful Dead, Oxford Circle, Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, 1966. Denver Art Museum: Partial gift of David and Sheryl Tippit; partial purchase with Architecture, Design & Graphics Department Acquisition Funds; and Volunteer Endowment Funds in honor of R. Craig Miller; Family Dog © 2009 Rhino Entertainment
To get in the mood, we suggest you check out Rhino’s Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970 box set. The four-disc set, released in 2007, is packaged in a hardcover coffee table book and touts a lineup that includes the pre-Grateful Dead band The Warlocks, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe & the Fish as well as a bunch of underground artists among its 77 tracks.
From the music box -- Reviews of recent CD releases:
GRAHAM NASH Reflections (Rhino)
Singer-songwriter Graham Nash is best known for his membership in Crosby, Stills & Nash – and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Crosby & Nash. You know, all those various incarnations (anyone for a Nash-Young Band?). Reflections collects highlights from his solo albums as well as his performances with his collaborators, beginning with the Hollies, the late ’60s British invasion pop group he quit to join up with David Crosby and Stephen Stills.
It’s easy to see how Nash would outgrow Top 40 pop like “Carrie Anne,” though he did become known for being the hit-maker for CS&N, penning such ubiquitous radio fare as “Our House,” “Marrakesh Express,” “Just a Song Before I Go” and “Wasted on the Way.” But Nash’s early solo work included topical songs that remain CS&N concert staples to this day, including “Military Madness” and “Chicago/We Can Change” (both featured in the recent Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young concert documentary “Déjà Vu.”) This three-disc, 64-track set spans 1967-2007, including six previously unreleased songs.
It ends with “In Your Name,” a tender anti-war lament from 2007 that brings the collection Nash full circle -- to the protest songs that marked his early work.
WILLIE NELSON Naked Willie (RCA Nashville/Legacy)
What a concept: Long-time Willie Nelson harmonica player Mickey Raphael gets credit for “unproducing” this collection of Nelson recordings from 1966 to 1970, when Nashville producers who didn’t know any better dressed up his songs with syrupy background singers and lush orchestral arrangements.
Naked Willie offers 17 examples of what those songs sound like without all the trappings -- unearthing the gems hiding beneath the glop. Most of these songs are Nelson originals, reminding us that in addition to being a great interpreter (witness his version of Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down” here), Nelson has written his share of great tunes.
Mike Cote is the former editor of ColoradoBiz. E-mail him at email@example.com.