Hello and welcome to Issue 2 of the Bahr Gallery News.
Hopefully you are well – certainly The Curve has been well-flattened here in New York and so if you are local, please know that we are open again Thurs-Sun 2:00-5:30pm and other times by appointment. We would love to see you!
We’ve added a dozen new pieces to our online inventory – these are the posters that are currently hanging as part of our Wes Wilson-Victor Moscoso Exhibition but they were not online for you to look at until now. The way our website works is that the New Arrivals section will always have the newest pieces up at the top. If you’d like to see what’s new, just go here https://www.bahrgallery.com/new-arrivals
Have a great day! - Ted (the) Bahr
Artist spotlight: Victor Moscoso
[17 pieces from Victor Moscoso’s most fertile period, late 1966-1968, are on display through August at the Gallery]
Victor Moscoso was born in 1936 in Oleiros, Galicia, Spain and his family moved to Brooklyn when Victor was 4. After studying art at Cooper Union in New York City and at Yale University, he moved to San Francisco in 1959. There, he attended the San Francisco Art Institute, [MS, Painting, 1961] where he then became an instructor. Moscoso was the first of the rock poster artists of the 1960s era with formal academic training and experience.
After landing in the Haight at the genesis of the counterculture, Moscoso was hesitant to jump on the poster art bandwagon. To get in the game, he had to forget everything he had learned in art school about conventional graphic design. "I was trying to make the lettering legible," he recalled. "I was trying to get the message across quickly and simply. Because I was such a good student and learned the rules of good poster making, I was doing all the wrong things." The psychedelic form was to create posters that were nearly illegible, keeping the viewer as engaged (or confused) for as long as possible.
Many of the poster artists used mechanical techniques that involved tracing art nouveau and antique images and using overlays of vibrating colors during the printing process. Stanley Mouse remembers that Moscoso was particularly adept at taking electric colors and arranging them in ways that made his posters look as if the images were moving on the paper. "He would actually get animation going in the way he used reds, yellows and blues," Mouse explained. "Victor did some really involved positive and negative overlays that would escape most peoples' mental abilities. And he had a fine hand that was technical and masterful and that not many people possess."
Moscoso was the first of San Francisco’s “Big Five” psychedelic poster artists to create his own poster series, naming it Neon Rose. Moscoso had approached the owners of The Matrix (a small San Francisco rock club where bands like The Doors, and Jefferson Airplane played early in their careers), offering to give the club 200 free posters for each Matrix show if he could print as many others as he could afford, and sell them. They took the deal.
Moscoso’s Neon Rose posters for The Matrix brought his work international attention during the Summer of Love in 1967. He had pioneered the use of vibrating colors to create the ‘psychedelic’ effect in poster art. About that Moscoso said, “The musicians were turning up their amplifiers to the point where they were blowing out your eardrums. I did the equivalent with the eyeballs . . .” Moscoso was also a noted underground comix artist, contributing frequently to Robert Crumb’s Zap.
Victor Moscoso also was the first of the Big Five to have his posters shown in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His work is in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and in the Library of Congress and many other Museums around the world. The Neon Rose Series of posters is one of the crown jewels of the psychedelic poster era.
Essential Poster of The Day
Wes Wilson’s Last Stand
This poster for a May 1967 pair of shows featuring the Grateful Dead is extremely important historically, as it marked the end of Wes Wilson’s early work for Bill Graham. Wes Wilson, among the Big Five San Francisco poster artists is generally acknowledged as creator of the style. The poster was printed using a “split fountain” technique which allowed for a changing gradient of color – reminding us that the printers were important co-conspirators with the artists to create the final product.
By the Spring of 1967 Bill Graham realized that the posters he was commissioning were great works of art, not just advertisements. He increased the press runs to 3,500 (later to 5,000) and sold a big chunk to Ben Friedman who sold them through his store in North Beach, the legendary Postermat. Graham also kept 1,000-2,000 for himself to sell later. When Wes Wilson learned of this, he confronted Graham, asking for a $1 per poster royalty on what were now works of art being resold, not just one-off “work for hire” advertisements. Graham refused and this poster was Wilson’s response.
The central image is an illustration of a nude woman (Eva, Wilson’s wife) staring plainly ahead. With one hand, she extends the Yin-Yang circle with male and female symbols in each and her other hand rests on her pregnant stomach. Around her are several men’s faces – is the frowning one on the right Bill Graham? No matter, Wilson makes his feelings clear with the powerful snake with a large dollar sign in its mouth and a stylized swastika on the serpent’s nose. Graham, having barely escaped the Holocaust as a child, fired Wilson immediately.
Wes Wilson had achieved a certain level of fame by then and didn’t think much of it and all of the poster artists were living in the moment. He designed a number of private commissions, the December 1967 cover of Playboy and a dozen or so more posters for Chet Helms for events at the Avalon but May 1967 was the end of his most prolific period.
[19 of Wes Wilson’s evolving works from 1966-1967 are on Exhibit at The Bahr through August]
My son Peter graduated from Sewanee this past month and sadly we all missed the pomp and circumstance. But he’s done and that means we’re done – done paying for college – yay! If this is true for you then it’s Me Time.
This Spring has seen the slashing of each of our budgets for dining out, going to see live music, live sporting events, music festivals – heck, live anything! Those are unused funds to consider using to bring the Music home to your walls.
Bahr Gallery makes it easy for you with carefully selected frames, nearly-invisible Museum Glass and a meticulously researched historical sketch putting your piece in context. We are also flexible with a layaway plan for 2, 3 or 4-month payment schedule to allow you to obtain this art more affordably.
Mother American Night, published by John Perry Barlow in 2018 just before he died, is a rollicking jaunt through a true Renaissance Man’s life in the 60’s 70’s and beyond. Best known to us as the lyricist for more than 30 Grateful Dead songs, he was a boyhood friend of Bob Weir, a Wyoming rancher, friend and mentor to JFK Jr., involved with Andy Warhol’s Factory and Timothy Leary’s Millbrook house, and a founding member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Freedom of the Press Foundation. His life is fascinating enough but his writing style is both approachable and thought-provoking, maybe a cross between Hemingway and the Gonzo journalists. Not too long and with many chapter breaks, highly recommended. If you want to support an independent bookstore, I recommend the Locust Valley bookstore – just call them at 516-676-1313, or email them at email@example.com.