Curator Scott Montgomery calls Lee Conklin’s “Faces” drawing the artist’s Sistine Chapel. This print of the drawing is via D.King Gallery.

For many music fans, Lee Conklin is the “Santana-lion” guy, a reference, of course, to his famous design for Santana’s first album, whose central image was taken from Conklin’s Fillmore West poster advertising a pair of 1968 shows headlined by Steppenwolf (August 27, 28, 29, with Santana at the bottom of a three-act bill) and the Grateful Dead (August 30, 31, and September 1). To be clear, BG-134 is a stunner, and few artists are fortunate enough to have created a work of art that is so universally recognized and beloved. But such acclaim can also be a trap, blinding the eyes of the world to an artist’s post-masterpiece accomplishments.

Yes, the Santana album cover will be on display at the HSAC’s new Lee Conklin exhibition.

Half a century later, a new exhibition of work by Lee Conklin at the Haight Street Art Center attempts to correct the impression that Conklin’s best days are behind him. Curated by Scott Montgomery of the University of Denver, the exhibition features almost 50 posters over the last 50 years—from that Santana album cover to his recent work for Moonalice. In addition, the show will give viewers a rare peek at many of Conklin’s original drawings and sketchbooks.

For Montgomery, Conklin’s draftsmanship is the anchor of his work. “He can do the big bold line when he wants to,” Montgomery says, “but he can also do a fabulous light line, with occasional cross-hatching when he’s trying to get more dimensional. As a result, he works comfortably in both two- and three-dimensional visual planes, which suits his style well because there are so many beats between the layers of his imagery. It’s actually pretty demanding artwork.”

One of Montgomery’s favorite Lee Conklin’s pieces is “Quintessential Poemster,” a work from the 1990s.

Anyone who has looked at Conklin’s art knows this—often, the most difficult part of his work is keeping up with his imagination. “My favorite Lee Conklin quote,” Montgomery says, “is ‘Let’s share imagination.’ I love that.” In other words, Conklin brings his imagination to a piece, so the viewer is advised to do the same, making a Conklin exhibition less of a spectator sport than most art shows. “Conklin’s art is the gift that keeps on giving,” Montgomery says. “Sometimes I see things that maybe aren’t even there. I call it the Conklin effect.”

At first glance, and given his ’60s bona fides, the Conklin effect might seem the product of psychedelics, but according to Montgomery’s conversations with the artist—which one of these days he promises will be captured in a book—Conklin’s often hallucinatory psychedelic imagery preceded his personal experience with psychedelics. “His work resonates profoundly with psychedelic visuality,” Montgomery agrees, “but it’s something that he developed independently. His work was not acid inspired—it was acid resonant. But that must have been the ultimate light-bulb moment—Lee’s first acid trip!”

A Lee Conklin poster for Moonalice from 2013.

Montgomery’s Conklin light-bulb moment is the drawing behind BG-112, which was a Fillmore/Winterland poster for shows headlined by Moby Grape, with support by Traffic, Lemon Pipers, and Spirit, in March of 1968. “Lee Conklin’s Sistine Chapel is that ‘Faces’ drawing,” Montgomery says. “Not the poster, the poster is really brutal, with that printing over one of his finest drawings.”

What Montgomery loves about the drawing, among other things, is its depth. “Lee just sees layers everywhere,” he says, “so his work reveals the poetics of visual possibilities.” And yes, it’s trippy, but according to Montgomery, “Lee’s not trying to show us an acid trip—his work is already inside what the acid trip is showing us. It’s a match made in Huxley heaven.”

Lee Conklin: 50 Years of Psychedelic Art” opens at the Haight Street Art Center on August 1, 2018, and runs through September 30. The opening reception is on August 1 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The following night, HSAC will present a conversation with the artist and curator Scott Montgomery. For more information, visit haightstreetart.org.


Rock Art By The Bay 2018 Thank You

On July 2, 2018, in News, by TRPS

TRPS Rock Art By The Bay 2018 Thank You

Thanks to all of you who attended Rock Art By The Bay this past Saturday. It was a great event and a special shout-out to our hosts, Claudia Pamparana and Rodger Davis, for allowing us to invade Faction Brewing. They could not have been more gracious and their building was perfect for the show!

We hope everyone had a great time and were able to add new art to your collection. It was especially fun to introduce many of Faction’s Saturday regulars to the world of gig poster art and give them the chance to meet artists.

In the meantime, if you missed Rock Art By The Bay, our next event, TRPS Festival of Rock Poster 2018 is set for October 20 at the Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. We hope to see you there!

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📸 Pictures will be posted in a few weeks. Hashtag your social media with #RABTB18 or #TRPSFaction for a chance to have your photos included in the upcoming blog post. You can also email them to trpsorg[at]gmail[dot]com


TRPS Rock Art By The Bay - June 30, 2018 - Faction Brewing, Alameda, CA

The Rock Poster Soci­ety is looking forward to our annual rock poster art event of the sum­mer, Rock Art By The Bay! The kind folks at Faction Brewing have graciously agreed to share their former airplane hanger with us for the day, so we’ll be setting up tables and grids amid the fermentation tanks in Alameda, California, on Saturday, June 30, 2018 from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm!

Admission is FREE

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Bring the family, Kids are welcome! The beer is amazing! Faction does not serve food, but a food truck will be parked outside.

Artists Attending

John Howardmonkeyink.com
Gregg GordonGIGART
Mike Dolgushkinmoonaliceposters.com/artists/mike-dolgushkin
Lee Conklinleeconklin.com
John Mavroudiszenpop.com
Chris Shawchrisshawstudio.com
Alexandra Fischeralexandrafischerstudio.com
Marq SpustaMarqSpusta.com
John SeaburyJohnSeaburyArt.com
Stanley MouseMouseStudios.com
Justin McNeal of SecretSerpents.com
Alan Forbes with SecretSerpents.com
Mark T. Behrens
John Frankel
Frank Alan Bellabellastudios.com
Matt LeunigScraped Knee


Special Thank You to Matt Leunig for designing this year’s event poster!


– To get to Faction you’ll need to go North on Main Street and enter on Trident or Midway / Stargell road.
– To enter Alameda Point Studios you need to go South on Main Street and enter on Oriskany Ave.
Directions to Rock Art By The Bay 2018
Faction Brewing 2501 Monarch St, Alameda

The Rock Poster Society presents TRPS ROCK ART BY THE BAY 2018 art by Scraped Knee Matt Leunig - Hosted by Faction Brewing in Alameda, California

Art by Scraped Knee Matt Leunig

We are pleased to share the official TRPS Rock Art By The Bay 2018 by artwork Scraped Knee – The Art of Matt Leunig! Copies of this poster will be available for purchase at the show on June 30, 2018 at Faction Brewing in Alameda, California. Artist Matt Leunig will be attending so don’t miss your chance to get it signed!

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The Murals at Faction Brewing


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