Central Valley’s significant connection to counterculture chronicled in private collection of psychedelic poster art
New exhibit explores the art of promoting gigs from Sacramento to Bakersfield and defines the region’s relevance in the psychedelic rock movement
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 25, 2010 — Counterculture, with its rejection of the ordinary, has long been synonymous with California. During the Summer of Love in 1967, San Francisco established itself as the epicenter of the movement, where new genres of music and art emphasizing experimentation gained worldwide notoriety. A new exhibit at The California Museum showcasing 80 rare pieces promoting shows from Sacramento to Bakersfield explores the Central Valley’s previously overlooked role as it defines the region’s relevance in the era’s iconic rock scene.
The Central Valley Turns On: Psychedelic Poster Art, 1965-1975 explores an art form as revolutionary and experimental as the music it was designed to sell, and highlights noteworthy performances from many of the era’s legends. Bold colors and hand-drawn illustrations announce a performance by The Doors and KZAP’s fifth birthday celebration with the Beach Boys at Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium. Dynamic compositions with intertwining words and imagery decorate handbills to promote The Jimi Hendrix Experience at Sacramento State College and Creedence Clearwater Revival at Cal Expo. Compacted designs of nearly illegible text create patterns to plug the Grateful Dead at Fresno’s Selland Arena as well as Pink Floyd headlining a Sacramento Sound Factory show.
The extraordinary collection of screen and lithographic prints is owned by a private poster art aficionado and presented by The California Museum in partnership with Alisa Leslie, Curator and Art Historian at Seligman Western Enterprises, and Walter Medeiros, counterculture art historian and contributing author of High Art: A History of the Psychedelic Poster. Many of the pieces have been out of view since they were created over 40 years ago. Now reintroduced to the public, they shed new historical perspective on the Central Valley’s supporting role in California’s counterculture scene and define the region‘s relevance in the iconic psychedelic rock movement of the era.
“These posters are the physical representation of an ephemeral experience,” said Claudia French, Executive Director at The California Museum. “Music is a passion for so many people. To have a visual memento of a show you attended on a night you remember as fantastic—it’s a powerful token of that moment in time. This collection details many magical musical moments and reveals the Central Valley’s place within that special point in history.”
The exhibit opens Friday, Nov. 5, 2010, at 10:00a.m. and continues through Sunday, May 8, 2011.