Starting Thursday, Jan. 26, the Perkinson Art Gallery in Kirkland Fine Arts Center will feature an exhibition titled "Peace, Love, Posters" featuring music posters from the 1960s psychedelic era.
The posters are part of an extensive collection that belongs to Marc Willis of Decatur, Ill. Willis inherited the posters from his brother Reese who lived in the San Francisco area. Two years ago, Ed Walker, associate professor of art at Millikin University, learned of the collection.
"After seeing them for just a little while and learning the scope and volume of pieces, I asked Marc if it would be okay if I brought my students to look at the collection and to start to consider the idea of doing some kind of exhibition," Walker said during a recent interview with WAND-TV.
As part of a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) project, student Sydney Doherty, a senior graphic design major from Lake Saint Louis, Mo., teamed up with Professor Walker to research how the vintage rock posters developed into a creative art form that symbolized a social movement.
"We really want to push the envelope in terms of making the exhibition more of an experience," Walker says. "In terms of the visual presentation of the posters, we want to include music recordings of the artists to go along with the gallery and project images on the walls."
Walker and Doherty also produced a book that serves as a catalog for the exhibit. The book was published through Bronze Man Books, Millikin's student-run publishing company.
"The book is going to frame our interpretation of why the posters are important culturally and from a designer standpoint," Walker says. "We're looking into the production of the posters. Everything back then was done by hand and being able to dissect the process from a design standpoint will be a valuable part for design students to learn."
Vintage rock posters continue to be a unique art form that reached a height during the San Francisco rock scene of the 60s. The social impact of the 60s and 70s played an important role with the development of the posters.
In terms of the research, Doherty says, "It's a challenge to decide where to take the research. It's about the posters but it's also about that period of time, everything that was going on, and what inspired the designers.”
The posters at the exhibit and in the book will be set in chronological order, and other items such as ticket stubs and postcards will be included.
"There'll be a vast collection of art, so students will still be able to look at it and learn from the artist, but we also wanted to encourage people who had maybe never been to an art show before to feel welcome here, because it's more of a celebration," Doherty says.