Exhibition featuring three of San Francisco’s Big Five poster artists runs through May 29
OYSTER BAY, N.Y. (Mar 6, 2022) – The Bahr Gallery, the only art gallery in the country dedicated to vintage, first-edition, psychedelic rock poster art, announced a new Exhibition, “Rick Griffin and Mouse & Kelley, a Dual Retrospective,” opening at the gallery on March 18, 2022 and running through May 29.
Rick Griffin (1944-1991) is recognized as one of the "Big Five" – the masters of the San Francisco School of psychedelic art that also included Alton Kelley, Stanley Mouse, Victor Moscoso and Wes Wilson. Griffin’s famous “Flying Eyeball” poster from 1968 ranks as one of the most iconic of the time. Highlights of the Exhibition include an oversized silkscreen of that piece that was hand-pulled by Griffin in 1989, a first-print “Aoxomoxoa,” (1969), a Jimi Hendrix “Scarab” poster (1968), and 15 more.
Griffin’s rich symbolic vocabulary distinguished his work from that of his fellow poster artists. His toolbox including mushrooms, eyeballs, hearts, wings, torches, waterfalls, scarabs, suns, serpents, and flame, as well as more culturally specific iconography as hopi kachina faces and motifs from commercial advertising. In addition, Griffin’s gift for three-dimensional rendering of truly challenging psychedelic lettering, which progressed from occasional drop shadows to extravaganzas of trompe l’oeil has led many to regard him as the greatest master in the field.
Stanley “Mouse” Miller ( 1940-) and Alton Kelley (1940-2008) are paired as most of their most famous works were collaborations and some of their featured works include, “The Girl with Green Hair,” from 1966 and modeled on Alphonse Mucha’s “Job Girl,” a stunning “Zebraman” poster for the 13th Floor Elevators (1966), and a first printing of the 1966 Grateful Dead poster, “Skeleton and Roses,” considered one of the most important works of the psychedelic era.
In late 1965 Kelley had designed several flyers advertising early Family Dog dance concerts, but he lacked freehand drafting ability. When he met Stanley Mouse, who had relocated from Detroit, Kelley found the draftsman partner he needed. The two formed Mouse Studios with Kelley's drawing skills eventually improving to the point where left-handed Kelley would be working on one side of the easel, and right-handed Mouse on the other. Mouse said they could work for hours in silence. "We knew what to do," he said. "We didn't have to talk. He [Kelley] had the most impeccable taste of anybody I knew," said Mouse, "He would do the layouts, and I would do the drawing."
The work of Mouse & Kelley has come to be recognized as a 20th century American counterpart to the French poster art of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec during the Belle Époque, although the two psychedelic artists never imagined at the time they were creating anything of enduring value, anything more than racing the deadline for the next Avalon show. "We were just having fun making posters," said Mouse. "There was no time to think about what we were doing. It was a furious time, but I think most great art is created in a furious moment."