60’s Poster, The Art of Consciousness

The Art of Consciousness, 60’s Poster Art at Haight Street Art Center

S.O.U.L. goes deep into the world of 60’s poster art with cultural historian Nicholas Meriwether and art historian Scott Montgomery at the Haight Street Art Center exhibition “The Art of Consciousness” to discover what has made this much maligned art still relevant today. Something that is only just beginning to be consciously embraced is what we can learn about ourselves and how the counterculture has had a lasting impact on our culture and our collective sense of self from the stories shared within every intentional line and brilliant color of each of these genre master’s works. Born of a long marginalized and subjugated creative spirit, now freed by the counterculture, these artistic expressions served as a palette to express the sentiment of the times in which they were made.

More than 90 seminal psychedelic posters from 1965 to 1967 were on display along with never-before-seen original art from the ‘Big Five’ San Francisco poster artists—Rick Griffin, Alton Kelley, Victor Moscoso, Stanley Mouse, and Wes Wilson. We attended and captured a panel discussion with Meriwether and Montgomery that focused on the art, it’s context, relevance, and impact.

Fifty years after the Summer of Love, posters that were originally intended to announce concerts, stand as the representative artform of the American counterculture and life in the Haight Ashbury in the 60’s.  For these reasons, they continue to attract wide attention. Yet the art world still finds it difficult to understand and appreciate what a powerful and vital moment in American art history they represent: not only the nation’s second great poster movement, but a full-fledged art movement in its own right.

“I think the counterculture succeeded, if we look at the long view. It’s changed the way we think. The counterculture won; America just hasn’t owned up to it yet. And we’re better for it.”

– Scott Montgomery, HSAC Curator