Over the years, fans of rock-poster artist Emek have unwittingly enjoyed a slow-motion retrospective of the artist’s work—albeit one year’s worth at a time—every time they visited the artist’s spacious booth at the Festival of Rock Posters in Golden Gate Park. But from February 24 though April 1, 2018, time will stand still when the Haight Street Art Center presents a retrospective of Emek’s work titled “Artifacts.” With roughly 200 pieces expected to be on view, this is a rare chance to see many of the artist’s most beloved pieces in one place. Join the throngs expected for the opening on February 24, from 6 to 8 p.m., or visit any time, Wednesdays through Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.



Achenbach Field Trip, 2018

On January 21, 2018, in Events, Photos, Preservation, by Ben Marks

Denis Mosgofian of Tea Lautrec Litho (at center, in dark coat) points out the differences between the original artwork by Wes Wilson for FD-01 and BG-29 (both from 1966) and their subsequent printings.

Tucked away in a quiet corner of San Francisco’s Legion on Honor, the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts is far removed from the press of the museum’s usual crowds, befitting its role as a place where important scholarship and painstaking restoration routinely happens. Recently, about a dozen members of The Rock Poster Society got a peek of a small portion of the foundation’s collection and learned how Achenbach experts prepare old, battered, and often irreplaceable pieces of paper for exhibition.

Our hosts were curator Colleen Terry and conservator Victoria Binder, both of whom made major contributions to last year’s Summer of Love exhibition at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. After passing through the foundation’s study center, we entered a small room featuring a handful of Family Dog and Fillmore posters from 1966, as well as a larger selection of Art Nouveau lithographs from the years 1898 to 1913.

Of the new stuff, which is to say, the half-century-old rock posters, it was a treat to compare Wes Wilson’s original art for FD-01 and BG-29 with their subsequent offset lithos. In the case of FD-01, one can read instructions to the printer specifying that the words “A Tribal Stomp” be reversed so that they’ll appear as white letters on the photograph they’ll eventually overlay. Wilson’s original art for BG-29 and its two companion prints tell a different story—the first version was printed in black on white to meet a deadline; the “final” version, with its added colors of orange, purple, and green, was printed later.

For rock-poster collectors, this is holy-grail material, but the antecedents of Wilson’s work was even more impressive. For me, the piece that stuck in my mind most was “Tropon,” an 1898 lithograph by Henry van de Velde, in which what appear to be stylized egg whites have fallen during separation from their yolks above. To my eye, this modest piece (roughly 12 by 8 inches) could be viewed as source material for some of the psychedelic reveries of Victor Moscoso, but even without that potential connection to the 1960s, the print stands on its own, a trippy little masterpiece of graphic design.

Our visit to Achenbach concluded with a demonstration by Anisha Gupta, the foundation’s Mellon Fellow in Paper Conservation, who explained how she used targeted heat to remove the backing from a rare World War I poster for an upcoming exhibition. Gupta and Binder also answered some of our questions about how rips are repaired and paper is cleaned without destroying a poster’s image. Suffice it to say, the techniques they described were not the sorts of things one should try at home, but it was comforting to know that one of the trickiest repairs for conservators also turned out to be one of the most common problems for collectors of old posters—removing Scotch tape.

(All prints are in the collection of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts)


Selected Photos from the 2017 Festival of Rock Posters

On November 12, 2017, in Events, Photos, by Ben Marks

Well, it took me a while to edit all the photos supplied by Loretta Baraona, Glen Beebe, Emi Ito, and Ron Schaeffer, and even at that I know we have missed lots of people. But, for better or worse, here is a gallery of images from the 2017 Festival of Rock Posters at the Hall of Flowers. Thanks again to all who showed up and helped make everything happen—to paraphrase David Nelson, it always takes a long line of dedicated maniacs to get this birdy off the ground. And stay tuned in the first of the year for news about Rock Art by the Bay in the summer of 2018.


Festival of Rock Posters 2017 Was One for the Books

On October 29, 2017, in Events, by Ben Marks

Well, the 2017 Festival of Rock Posters is almost over—I say “almost” because this morning some of us will be unloading all the grids and gear that it takes to put on the show. In the next few days, we’ll post lots of photos of one of our best-attended shows ever, but for now, we just want to thank all the people who attended, with a big thanks to all the artists and vendors who made the show so great, and a HUGE thanks the all the volunteers who pitched in (and are still pitching in!) all weekend long. Thanks, everybody!

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