Festival of Rock Posters 2018, by John Howard

We are pleased to announce the roster for the 2018 TRPS Festival of Rock Posters at the Hall of Flowers on October 20th!

Billy Perkins
Chuck Sperry
Stanley Mouse
Lee Conklin
Mark Arminski
Victor Moscoso
Marq Spusta
Justin Hampton
David Byrd
Hakes Americana
Jim Mazza
Mike Dubois
Golden Road Gallery
Chris Shaw
Alexandra Fischer
Yasunori Ninomiya
Randy Chavez
Carolyn Ferris
Norman Orr
Classic Posters
Paul Getchell
Rick Savel
Perry Pfeffer
SF Rockposters
Tea Lautrec Litho
John Howard
Matt Leunig
Agent Ink Gallery
Secret Serpents
Larry Freeman
John Frankel
John Seabury
Gary Houston
David Singer
Randy Tuten
Gregg Gordon
Bill Graham Memorial Foundation
Psychedelic Art Exchange
Reggie Williams
Bill Ham
Peter Albin and Dave Getz
D. King Gallery
Sal Dichiera
Eric King
Kris Mikkelson
Cliff Yamasaki
John Bellas
Sherwood Donahue
Wayne Espinosa
Mari Tepper
Shane Edward Grogg
Poster Buddy
Mark Dean Veca
Pat Ryan

Things may change a teeny, tiny bit between now and the show, but this is pretty darned close!

Important Membership Info
If you are not a member yet or want to renew your membership before the show, there is still time to do so HERE, but to assure delivery of your membership packet prior to the show, the final day to join or renew is October 10th, before midnight (Pacific). Those who join or renew after that date can pick up their membership packet at the TRPS booth at the show. Packets not picked up at the show will be mailed out on Monday, October 22.

Admission Prices
* 10:00 – 11:00 Admission during the first hour is $20 for non-TRPS members or $5 for TRPS members, but your membership needs to be current. Please bring your card to show at the door. If your membership has expired, or if you decide to join at the TRPS booth after entry during the first hour, you will get a refund of $15 off the cost of the $30 membership.
* 11:00 – 3:00 Admission is $10 for non-TRPS members and $5 for TRPS members. If your membership has expired, or if you decide to join at the TRPS booth after entry between 11 and 3, you will get a refund of $5 off the cost of the $30 membership.
* 3:00 – 6:00 Admission is FREE to all.

Where Is It Again?
The Hall of Flowers (aka, County Fair Building) is just inside Golden Gate Park, near the corner of Ninth and Lincoln. If you need directions, check out the map below:

See you there!


Marty Balin, 1942-2018

On September 28, 2018, in News, by Ben Marks

Marty Balin at Monterey Pop, 1967. Photo by Suki Hill

We are all saddened by the news of Marty Balin’s passing, and send our love and best wishes to his family. I was not fortunate enough to meet Marty, but I did get to interview him in 2017. You can read that article here.


Chuck Sperry’s Utopian Provocations

On September 10, 2018, in Events, News, by Ben Marks
"Thalia" tapestry at Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos in Guadalajara, Mexico. Photo by Shaun Roberts.

“Thalia” tapestry at Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos in Guadalajara, Mexico. Photo by Shaun Roberts.

This fall, two challenges await visitors to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The first is “Litmus Test: Works on Paper from the Psychedelic Era,” an exhibition of 80 or more pieces. The second is “All Access: Exploring Humanism in the Art of Chuck Sperry,” which promises 40 or so prints, original drawings, and tapestries by the San Francisco artist.

The first challenge will likely be easier for most viewers to pass, especially if they are fans of psychedelic rock art. Such viewers already embrace the iconography, attitude, and underlying idealism that characterized the better angels of the psychedelic era, to say nothing of the color riot that’s typical of the genre. But “Litmus Test” intrigues for its decision to bring together the work of actual rock-poster artists from the 1960s (San Francisco’s so-called “Big Five” of Wes Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Stanley Mouse, Rick Griffin, and Alton Kelley, plus Detroit’s Gary Grimshaw), a noted photographic chronicler of Detroit’s psychedelic scene (Leni Sinclair), and fine artists whose work has been influenced by the output of their graphic-art colleagues (Alex and Allyson Grey, Isaac Abrams). Completing “Litmus Test” is a bit of harmless nostalgia in the form of ordinary pieces of perforated paper pretending to be illicit sheets of blotter acid, prepared by the likes of Mark Mothersbaugh, H.R. Giger, S. Clay Wilson, and Chuck Sperry. It all sounds worth a visit, although “Litmus Test” is bound to be a cakewalk compared to the real thing to which the exhibition’s title alludes.

"Gaia," 2018, 20 x 26.25 inches. Oak Panel. Edition of 30.

“Gaia,” 2018, 20 x 26.25 inches. Oak Panel. Edition of 30.

Chuck Sperry is the ostensible link between the two exhibitions, though more in spirit than by virtue of the coincidence of his contributions. In fact, Sperry’s “test” is actually much tougher than the one presented in “Litmus,” in no small part because of the uniformly beautiful appearance of his pieces. Sperry must know that some viewers will get no deeper than the surface of his work, misinterpreting his screenprints as contemporary updates of “pretty-girl art” from the 1940s and ’50s or the advertising graphics of Art Nouveau. Both of those associations are true enough as far as mere appearances go, but Sperry’s “ladies,” as they are known among rock-poster collectors, and “muses,” as they are called by those who gravitate to his fine-art prints, should really be seen as what the artist calls “utopian provocations,” intended as vehicles for social and spiritual transcendence rather than cheesecake to be ogled and vicariously consumed.

As if the sheer beauty of his work was not distracting enough, Sperry makes our leap of faith in his “provocations” even more complicated by literally wallpapering the skin of his silver-metallic beauties. The world, the artist appears to suggest, is preoccupied with external decoration—we have become experts at judging books by their covers. In the context of colorful utopian provocations in dark dystopian times, the trick is to figure out how to get past seductive surfaces in order to transform beauty into beautiful action.

Chthoneon is the latest book by Chuck Sperry.

Chthoneon is the latest book by Chuck Sperry.

To help viewers get there, Sperry has released Chthoneon, the second of two self-published books about his work in as many years. As in Helikon, published in 2017, Sperry pairs reproductions of his art (via gorgeous photography by Shaun Roberts) with some of the literature that has inspired him. Helikon placed photographs of his muses, printed on wood panels, alongside their corresponding Orphic Hymns, some of which date to the 3rd century B.C. That book also gave us lyrics by Nick Cave, for whom Sperry has created numerous rock posters, as well as poems by Ovid, Homer, and Hesiod, along with the writing of a few contemporary authors.

At 136 pages, Chthoneon has a similar organization and format, although the literary focus is somewhat less reliant on the words of ancient Greeks. Sure, Aristophanes is represented, but other authors contributing poems and prose to Chthoneon include Margaret Atwood, whose dystopian Handmaid’s Tale has become a cautionary parable for our dystopian Trump-Pence-Kavanaugh era. Chthoneon also gives viewers who can’t make it to Fort Wayne their first look at three new tapestries Sperry had produced at Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos in Guadalajara, Mexico, whose artisans have made 10- and 11-foot-tall versions of “Thalia,” “Demeter,” and “Semele.” Enlarging his muses to heroic proportions puts them on a pedestal of sorts, which would seem to make them even less accessible to us mortals, but that’s just Sperry playing the sprite, goading us once again into finding the humanity in ourselves.

Tapestry in process at Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos. Photo by Shaun Roberts.

Tapestry in process at Taller Mexicano de Gobelinos. Photo by Shaun Roberts.

“Litmus Test: Works on Paper from the Psychedelic Era” and “All Access: Exploring Humanism in the Art of Chuck Sperry” open on September 14 with a party from 6 to 9 p.m. “Litmus Test” runs through November 11, 2018; “All Access” runs through December 9, 2018. For more information, visit the Fort Wayne Museum of Art.


Vertical stabilizer of a Lockheed P-38. © Bob Seidemann

Most rock-poster fans know Bob Seidemann (1941-2017) for his 1967 photograph of the Grateful Dead standing in a Daly City suburb, his portrait of Janis Joplin wearing only a cascade of beads, and his album covers for Jerry Garcia, Jackson Browne, Neil Young, and Blind Faith. But by the mid-1980s, Seidemann had wearied of the “cruel and shallow money trench,” as Hunter S. Thompson once described the music business, so he set his sights upon loftier subjects: airplanes, the pilots who flew them, and the engineers who designed them.

For the next 15 years, Seidemann pointed his camera at fighter jets left to rust in the California desert, commercial aircraft being assembled at a Boeing plant outside of Seattle, and even a few intercontinental nuclear bombers at an airfield south of Moscow. By the time he was done, Seidemann had organized 302 of the thousands photographs he took over that decade and a half into three thematic portfolios, known collectively as “Airplane as Art.”

From September 13, 2018, through February 2019, two dozen of these stunning black-and-white photographs will be on view at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley. Focusing on Seidemann’s more abstract and minimal compositions, the show offers viewers a curated peek inside Seidemann’s mammoth body of work. It’s a rare opportunity to glimpse a lesser-known side of this multidimensional artist, whose interests flew far beyond the world of rock ‘n’ roll.

The opening reception for Bob Seidemann’s exhibition at MSRI on September 13 is free, open to the public, and runs from 5:45 – 8:00 p.m. For directions and parking information, click here. To learn more about Seidemann’s “Airplane as Art” series, check out this article at Collectors Weekly.

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