“Having grown up in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, I saw the ‘hippie scene’ of the ‘60s influence mainstream pop culture in a big way.”
What makes psychedelic art different from contemporary art?
Psychedelic art is art that was created to evoke, communicate or enhance the psychedelic experience. The imagery is generally influenced by that experience, rather than created under the influence of it, but not exclusively. What we specialize in at PAE are psychedelic concert posters that were being produced during the years 1965 to1971. This is the time when the social experiment that began in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood became a nationwide youth movement.
Where does your love for psychedelic art come from, and what does it mean to you?
I was born in 1963. I couldn’t avoid psychedelic imagery. Having grown up in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, I saw the ‘hippie scene’ of the ‘60s influence mainstream pop culture in a big way. My family was in the magazine distribution business, so my first exposures were most likely through Mad Magazine, Playboy and National Lampoon.
When I started buying records as a young teen, the album cover art really turned me on. Artists like Rick Griffin, Victor Moscoso and Greg Irons were some of the best album cover artists. When I started buying underground comix, I realized those same artists were dominant in that genre as well. I then found out that they also crossed over into the concert posters. My first concert poster purchase was at a record store I frequented when I was a kid. I bought a mirror that was superimposed over a Bill Graham Fillmore poster. That hung on my wall for years, but it wasn’t until I first traveled to San Francisco to see the Grateful Dead that I bought my first original psychedelic concert poster. It was all over then, I was hooked.
Do art and music go hand in hand?
Yes, they are two sides of the same coin. They only differ in the sensory receptors that receive the stimuli.
Where do you source the art in the gallery?
We are at the center of a worldwide two-way market. We primarily buy from the public, but occasionally we will buy at auction. We advertise heavily on the web to find the posters our customers are looking for. We also take consignments for our online auction. We are currently auctioning 200-400 lots per month.
Have you ever met or interacted with any of the artists whose work you sell?
Yes, I have had the honor of meeting many of the originators of 1960s concert poster art. I met Rick Griffin in San Francisco in the ‘80s. I have had the opportunity to speak with Mouse Moscoso and Wes Wilson in recent years because of PAE.
What is the most historic / iconic piece of psychedelic art that has ever been sold by you or others?
The most iconic would have to be the FD-26 – (Skull and Roses) that was created for a 1966 Grateful Dead concert at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. We sold a copy in May of 2019 for $56,000 and Heritage Auctions sold one last November for $118,000. The most historic would be the Grateful Dead Troopers Club poster that was the only poster ever created by Owsley. It’s at the heart of the birth of the Grateful Dead – it’s an incredibly important poster.
interview by WYATT EARLY @ERRLYWYATT | concertpostergallery.com