Rock and roll relics revisited at Petaluma campus

Armando Torres-Garcia, Opinion Editor

Whether you’re a Dead Head, a “Summer of Love” fan or just a poster art aficionado, you are sure to find a masterpiece that transports you to a psychedelic world at Petaluma Campus’ Mahoney Library Gallery.

The gallery is featuring “Rock Poster Art: From the San Francisco Ballroom Era and Beyond.” The show exhibits extraordinary concert posters that promoted artists such as The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Miles Davis. The collection of posters is a diverse group of colorful psychedelic art from artists like Lee Conklin, Stanley Mouse, Victor Moscoso, and David Singer and R. Crumb, pioneers of the psychedelic art era from the 60s until now.

SRJC students will have the opportunity to meet some of the artists and hear them talk in depth about their artwork on April 14.

Among the speakers at the reception is Lee Conklin, who jumped into the rock poster scene on Haight Street in 1968. “I was attracted to the scene because I found I could express myself,” Conklin said “I thought I was going to work myself to the top.” However, word about his distinguishable artwork quickly began to spread. His success grew dramatically when he started producing rock posters for the famous promoter Bill Graham.

One of Conklin’s world-renowned pieces is a poster of a lion he did for a Santana and The Grateful Dead show in 1969. He got the idea for the poster after looking at a picture of a lion in a book. “Being who I am, I seem to see other things if I’m in the right mood,” he said. Santana approached Conklin soon after the show and inquired about using the lion as his album cover. Conklin’s drawing has become one of the iconic symbols for Santana and the psychadelic art scene.

Students will be able to see the lion drawing and other masterpieces that have also contributed to the ballroom era and have become permanent relics of American history.

Although there are many artists influenced by his artwork, Conklin urges people, “If you want to make a poster, make a poster, but it has to come from within.”  

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