Clayton On Art: Psychedelic '60s poster art sale

By Alec Clayton on April 16, 2013

Who remembers the '60s or wishes they did? I'm not talking about all those who claimed to be at Woodstock but never were - but yes, I guess them too, because what I'm talking about here is nostalgia for an era, the art and the music and the way of life.

More than almost anyone else I know, Olympia artist Tom Anderson was a child of the hippie era, and he still reveres the music and art of that period. His downtown Olympia studio, above Olyphant Art Supply, is filled with psychedelic poster art from his large collection.

Anderson said he was recently brainstorming with Olyphant owners Nick and J.B. Baldridge about how to more effectively use the space in their shop that was not used for retail and suggested that since they were trying to get their framing business going it made sense to show work that highlighted that service and options. "Framing to me too often appears as an afterthought in art or a necessary evil with little if any creative vision to it," he said.

The work he had in mind was from his own poster collection. "I have been thinking of thinning out my collection for a couple years, so I offered it to them to select which works they could envision for the space. It was fun to hear and see fresh eyes look at these posters for the first time. I grew up with them so I have a different history, but for the younger artists this is new and relevant."

Anderson got his first posters from the original singer of the Jefferson Airplane, Signe Anderson, when he was 15. Signe and her husband, Jerry, an original member of Ken Keseys' Merry Pranksters, were friends of Tom's parents. That was the beginning of a collection that has become quite impressive.

There will be approximately 20-25 posters and 8-10 handbills in the show featuring renown poster artists Rick Griffin, Moscoso, Alton Kelley, Stanley Mouse, David Singer, Wes Wilson, all from 1966-1969. Most but not all are originals. The bands represented include Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother And The Holding Company, 13th Floor Elevator, Moby Grape, Steve Miller, Blues Project, Jimi Hendrix, Blue Cheer, Miles Davis, Chuck Berry, Daily Flash and more. Most of the posters are from concerts held at the Fillmore and Avalon ballrooms in San Francisco.

"In the last several years more museums have hosted shows of '60s psychedelic posters, some of which will be in this exhibit," Anderson says.

The exhibit and sale will open on Arts Walk Friday, April 26, and be up for a month.