Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Rare Wild West Show Street Car Poster by Satty

This remarkable and rare poster advertised a Three Day Festival and Concert to be held in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.  This concert was to be the Woodstock of the West and a defining moment in San Francisco Rock History.  Instead, the collapse of the concert signaled the beginning of the end of the San Francisco 60's movement.  One of the few surviving pieces of artwork relating to the event, the only other copy we know of is owned by Berkeley's famous Bancroft Library.

The Wild West Show was a major three day music and art festival planned for August 22-24th of 1969. It was to be staged along the length of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

Envisioned as a huge community carnival, during the day there would be free events and activities and at night major musicians from the cream of the local rock scene were to perform at paid concerts. Calling on the organizational talents of people like Bill Graham and Chet Helms, with benefits headlined by performers like the Jefferson Airplane and Joan Baez, and the financial backing corporations like Wells Fargo, Greyhound, and PG&E, the festival seemed to be off to a great start.

The festival was to be directed by Berkeley native Barry Olivier, who had created the Berkeley Folk Festival in 1958 -- an annual event he headed until 1970.

Big Brother with Janis Joplin, Country Joe and the Fish, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone, and Santana, among others, were scheduled to appear. There were to be musicians from around the world, productions of Shakespeare, strolling minstrels, and puppet shows. The attendance was expected to be 200,000 people a day.

Predictably, things started to fall apart with the usual San Francisco hippie brain-fog rolling in at high speed. The light show people wanted equal billing with the musical acts and picked a Grateful Dead concert. Jerry Garcia didn't want labor problems out of fear of his grandmother, who had founded the Laundry Worker's Union. A rumor started that the festival. which had been intended to raise money for community projects, was a front for The Man, the elusive exploitative money-grubbing entity which was the enemy of all Free Thinkers everywhere.

Things decayed into total chaos. Community meetings were held where conspiracy-minded lunatics spouted crazed fantasies. Ego-driven artists tried to make the whole show about them. The big acts started to get cold feet over the commotion. There were actually death threats aimed at the producers and organizers. Out of total exhaustion with the problems, Barry Olivier called the whole thing off. The chance for San Francisco to have their Woodstock was gone.

There were some promotional pieces made, one of which is this fine bus poster designed by San Francisco artist Satty (Wilfried Podriech).

Satty started making his famous collages in 1966, quickly becoming an important figure in the art scene of the 1960's. His books THE COSMIC BICYCLE (1971) and TIME ZONE (1973) are important collections, though his work was published by Rolling Stone, the Berkeley Barb, KPFA, Ramparts, and other journals around the world. He lectured in media and the arts throughout the 1970's and his work is held or was shown in major museums including the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Museum of New York City, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the New York Museum of Modern Art.

After Satty's death, Thomas Albright wrote "As an artist, Satty occupied a curious kind of no man's- land in the San Francisco art world. He wanted to create a 'visual language' that would be an alternative to the impersonal imagery of the mass media, a language in which the imagination was liberated to discover and explore. His sense of social mission led him to favor techniques of mechanical mass reproduction his collages were generally conceived not as unique, original pieces, but as prototypes for photographic reproduction; this did not sit well with an Art Establishment that tended to frown on such concessions to populism. On the other hand, although he was accepted as a peer by the poster artists among whom he worked designing advertisements for rock concerts, Satty's mode of expression was only remotely related to the upbeat, exuberant style of psychedelic art. His work evidenced its Germanic roots with a more somber, dreamlike realm of utopian, surrealist fantasy spiced by disarming accents of the bizarre and grotesque."

This item comes from festival directory Barry Olivier himself.  Well known in the San Francisco Bay Area as a guitar instructor as well as the creator, producer and director of the Berkeley Folk Festival.  He produced all of the Northern California concerts by Joan Baez for eleven years and gave John Fogerty his first music lessons.  He directed the Folk Festival for twenty two years.

The bus poster we are offering is identical to one held by the University of California's Bancroft Library. It is silk screened and measures 60 inches by 21 inches. Though this poster was never used on a bus or street car, there is some staining on the right edge of the poster as well as some wear to the edges. This poster will be shipped rolled in a heavy tube.

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