Theo Denner moved into the Mule Cocktail Bar and Restaurant on Monday afternoon in the mood for the soothing yet relaxing space it’s a brick wall so prevalent in the historic city center.
The retired superintendent of D&M Construction surveyed the space on the brick to see how best to display his vintage rock ‘n’ roll posters for the First Friday Art Walk.
Like the sweeping brushstrokes of John Ford Clymer or the visions on display at the Gallery One Visual Arts Center, these vintage posters designed by psychedelic San Francisco graphic designers like Wes Wilson, Bonnie MacLean, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley, Greg Irons, Lee Conklin , Rick Griffin, Bob Fried, Victor Moscoso, Randy Tuten and David Singer were visions of the time.
These were fliers and posters advertising musical performances at places like the Fillmore Auditorium, the Fillmore West, the Avalon Ballroom, and Winterland. But over time, graphic designers themselves have become icons with the special work of art of a generation.
“I think the posters are amazing,” Mule owner Sarah Beauchamp said. “I have such a passion for music and I think it’s an exciting medium, so I’m happy to have them.”
The First Friday Art Walk showcases local and regional artwork throughout the city, and this 11-piece graphic art exhibit not only showcases vibrant, well-crafted works from a specific period. It also brings back memories of the music that defined a generation.
“The posters are mostly (Bill) Graham. There are a few Denver Family Dog posters. These are all posters advertising shows in San Francisco or Denver,” Denner said. “There’s one, the Northern California Folk Rock Festival, it’s one of my favorites.
“I like the lineup because it’s famous for being the only time Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin co-starred on the Zep’s first US tour. I also like the look of the poster.
The Northern California Folk-Rock Festival had bands like the Doors, Santana, Jefferson Airplane and Country Joe and the Fish and a collection of others.
Denner’s collection numbers nearly 1,000 posters and First Walk customers have the opportunity to step into the past by visiting the exhibition which will be in place for the rest of April.
It also has a display of local flyers featuring The Screaming Trees at the Cornerstone Pie, paying tribute to the late singer Mark Lanegan.
A poster is from Lanegan’s last performance in Ellensburg at the Elks Grand Ballroom in 2018, with special guest Mark Pickerel.
There is also an original early print advertising the 1987 Screaming Trees show at the Hal Holmes Center, which included openers Moral Crux and Greensuit.
“This exhibit is more about local acts and a tribute to Mark Lanegan,” Denner said. “The Mule Exhibit showcases the Bay Area’s great graphic designers and poster artists.”