San Francisco Rock Posters
January 14 - July 13, 2003
This spring the Fleming will exhibit in the Wilbur Room cases a collection of rock
posters from concerts produced by Bill Graham at the Fillmore West and Avalon Ballroom
in San Francisco in 1966-67. Among the bands advertised in the posters are the Grateful
Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messengers, The Mothers of Invention, and numerous
others. A poster from this series documenting the one-time West Coast appearance of Andy
Warhol and The Velvet Underground is included in the Fleming's exhibition Andy Warhol
Work and Play.
The poster collection was generously donated to the Museum by Stephen Cohen,
a retired physician in the Burlington area who collected the posters during a rotating
internship in San Francisco in 1966-67. When Cohen moved to the Bay Area for the academic
year, he was immediately struck by the graphic impact of the poster designs. The posters
were initially distributed free with the purchase of tickets to the shows at the Fillmore
West and Avalon Ballroom, or were available for a few dollars at the famous City Lights
and other bookstores in San Francisco. In response to the growing popularity of the
posters, additional printings were made.
These posters designed by Stanley Mouse, Wes Wilson, and others have become hot
collectors' items in recent years and it is easy to see why. The fluid designs and
intense colors are classics of twentieth-century design and immediately evoke the unique
social and cultural environment in which they were created.
The music scene in San Francisco in the mid-1960s was remarkable, and it is
fortunate that it was documented by a talented group of graphic artists who created a
To protect the posters from over-exposure to light, one set of posters will be exhibited
in the cases in the Wilbur Room from January 14 rough April 13 and another set from the
series will be shown from April 15 through July 13.