A Trippy Trifecta
Three Giants of Rock Poster Art at TRPS Festival of Rock Posters
Rick Griffin, Roger Dean, Zoltron
Grass Valley, CA, October 21, 2023 –The Chambers Project presents a new Aoxomoxoa poster by psychedelic legend Rick Griffin, Roger Dean’s original Relayer painting, and contemporary rock and roll silkscreen masterpieces by Zoltron to a legion of fans at the Festival of Rock Posters in the Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, Saturday October 21, 2023.
The return of psychedelia as therapeutic medicine has been accompanied by a resurgence of enthusiasm for vintage visionary and psychedelic art. Now an extraordinary poster by the classic psychedelic designer Rick Griffin has been restored from the original 1960s artwork. The recreated Aoxomoxoa (image attached) will debut at this year’s Festival of Rock Posters.
Griffin was literally the poster boy of San Francisco’s 1960s psychedelic scene, designing many of the iconic images that have come to define the West Coast hippy era. His innovative design for the Grateful Dead album Aoxomoxoa is among the most famous of the album covers of the period and encapsulates the aesthetics of its visionary art. Gallerist and artrepreneur Brian Chambers is thrilled to be exhibiting the poster. He explained, “It was originally designed for the Grateful Dead shows at the Avalon, January 24th 25th 26th in 1969. They liked it so much they used it as the album cover.”
Chambers is at the center of the storm of 21st century psychedelic art. The Chambers Project is the exhibit space for a roster of painters and sculptors representing the best of the movement, from original drawings and paintings by Griffin, Mouse, and Roger Dean to the psychedelic tsunami of new generations of artists like Zoltron, Alex Grey, Mars-1, and the Furtherr Collective.
Aoxomoxoa changed Roger Dean’s life.
Aoxomoxoa literally transformed lives. Chambers continued, “This is the one that Roger Dean saw which changed the course of his art.” Legendary designer and prolific artist Dean is best known for the visionary prog-rock covers and graphics he created for the bands Asia and Yes, which became so deeply connected to the bands’ public image that he is a constant presence on Yes tours, currently opening their concerts with a presentation about his mind-expanding art. Keyboardist Rick Wakeman once joked that Dean was the only member of Yes who had left the band more often than him. Dean’s paintings and graphics have marketed their music for half a century, and he is also the creative genius behind the classic Virgin record labels and the appearance of Tetris.
Dean first saw Aoxomoxoa in summer of 1969, when he found an imported copy of the record on display in the window of a record shop next door to his apartment in South Kensington, London. (His downstairs neighbor was Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis fame, who designed mind-bending covers for Pink Floyd and other rock giants.) He clearly recalls the impact of his first sight of Griffin’s work, “The effect it had on me was dramatic. It was wonderful. It was the keys to freedom. Suddenly it gave me permission – that was amazing. I couldn’t possibly afford it, but I bought it, though at that time I didn’t own a record player. It had a sensational effect on me.” Griffin’s amazing cover art changed Dean’s life and pushed him onto the path of becoming the most iconic typeface designer and album cover artist alive. He remembers meeting Griffin a decade later when he published a Paper Tiger book of his art. “Rick Griffin threw open the doors of the prison of modern graphics,” said Dean, “He is amazingly unique. His paintings are calligraphy, his lettering is like traditional drawing… it’s all free, and it’s all breaking boundaries.”
Contemporary San Francisco rock poster genius Zoltron is at the heart of the continuing craze for commemorative limited-edition posters produced to celebrate each concert on rock tours. The acid-inspired imagery he created for Primus shaped the public’s perception of the band, A worthy heir to Griffin, his art has helped define the visual character of the first two decades of 21st century’s popular culture. He attributes his success to Roger Dean and Griffin, saying, “I have early memories, through a thick haze of incense and weed, of getting lost in Roger’s epic landscapes pinned to my older teenage brother’s walls. Rick Griffin’s Zap comix and iconic album covers littered the shag carpet floor… I definitely blame these two artists for the way my young brain developed.” The Chambers Project will exhibit a selection from their archive of treasured posters by Zoltron, including the fan-favorite Primus children’s book parodies, and a new limited-edition blotter based on his recent concert poster for touring jam band, Goose.
Excited about the chance to connect with his predecessor in psychedelic design, Zoltron worked with Rick’s only son Miles and The Chambers Project to produce the new Aoxomoxoa print from an archived set of the original 1960s films for the previously unprinted offset lithograph, recreating CMYK plates in an exclusive limited edition of only 150 posters, with a small number printed on hallucinatory holographic foil. “We had to recreate the dot pattern from fifty-year old film, which is kind of unheard of. Film is very delicate,” said Zoltron, “The OXO print we’re doing is literally recreated from Griffin’s hand-cut rubyliths.”
The new poster is closer to the appearance of the original art than any previous printing. Griffin’s son-in-law Tod Clayton explained, “The new Aoxomoxoa poster is a serigraph, a screen print, not a lithograph… higher quality and attention to detail in the printing. We’ve got the films from the original album cover which Rick stashed away, so we pulled them out from the 1969 envelopes and had them scanned… They’re beautiful. It’s historic and wonderful, never seen by anyone other than a few of us in the family…” Eager fans will also be able to meet Griffin’s family at the event, hosted by The Chambers Project. Griffin died in 1991 and didn’t get to witness the booming new enthusiasm for his psychedelic art. He is a giant. “Rick is one of the most influential artists in twentieth century pop culture,” said Clayton.
Dean’s Relayer – the Holy Grail of album cover art.
As well as exhibiting the mighty Aoxomoxoa at the Festival of Rock Posters, The Chambers Project will show Dean’s superb original watercolor masterpiece Relayer, (image attached) which was used for the extraordinary cover of the Yes album of 1974. In it, desert serpents coil ready to strike as horsemen couriers canter through a graceful and arid landscape of arching stone, shaped like the wind-eroded architecture of a natural cathedral. Art critic Michael Pearce said, “Relayer is the holy grail of album cover art. Dean created a world for the band’s music to live in. It’s a perfect visual marriage of mystery and melody.”
Dean’s design for The Rock Poster Society (TRPS)
Apart from the display of his iconic Relayer, Dean created the poster for this year’s annual gathering of The Rock Poster Society in San Francisco, (image attached) applying his extraordinary skill with lettering and painting to an eye-grabbing image based on his spectacular painting Blue Desert. This is Dean’s second poster for TRPS – he couldn’t attend the 2022 gathering in person because of a family emergency, but this year an enthusiastic Dean will be present and signing posters for fans. A rumor circulating among the cognoscenti says that he will design a third poster for next year, making a trilogy of his Festival of Rock Posters for collectors to gather. Many of the first ‘dragon’ edition were destroyed, making them especially rare.
For more information contact:
The Chambers Project, 627 East Main St., Grass Valley, California 95945
Phone: (530) 777-0330