Rainy Day Psychedelia: Seattle’s 1960s Poster Scene About to Get Its Day in the Sun

"Seattle artist Scott McDougall is doing a Kickstarter (through July 15) for a new book called Split Fountain Hieroglyphics: Psychedelic Concert Posters From the Seattle Area, 1966-1969, which will feature some 200 rare examples of Seattle psych," says Ben Marks.

"To help spread the word, I just interviewed him for CollectorsWeekly, where we've also published half-dozen or so pieces, including a flyer from 1966 that may or may not have been designed by author Tom Robbins (Scott is still tracking that one down, so Tom, if you are reading this, fess up!).

“John Moehring was, I think, quite a ways ahead of everybody else as far as skill,” McDougall says. “He did a lot of the Eagles Auditorium posters, and you can just see his evolution, from his first one-color jobs to his last four-color posters, which were hand-separated using four negatives, four positives, and a bottle of opaque ink. He also did a poster for the Retinal Light Circus with Wes Wilson, which everybody always dates to 1966. Wes’s part may have been from 1966, but John wasn’t even drawing in 1966, at least not like that.”

Nor were promoters at venues like Eagles Auditorium especially diligent about printing posters for every one of their shows, let alone marketing these posters to the public. “I don’t think any of this stuff was ever for sale,” McDougall says of the rock posters of the day. “I could be wrong about the shows promoted by Matthew Katz, who managed Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, and It’s a Beautiful Day, because that was sort of his whole business venture. He produced a poster every week, but it only lasted for five or six months. In contrast, there were a lot of shows at the Eagles that never had posters, and most of those were probably done at the last minute.”

In addition to Moehring, another artist whose work is highly sought by collectors is Walt Crowley, who was Moehring’s good friend, sometimes his collaborator, and, as McDougall says, was “one of those guys who was an artist by default, but definitely competent. Crowley did two of the Sky River posters,” he adds, referring to the famous 1968 rock festival held outside Seattle, which may or may not have given promoters on the East Coast the idea to hold Woodstock in upstate New York the following year. “In the 1980s, Crowley became a TV news commentator. He was always the guy on the left. He wrote a number of books, and a lot of articles for HistoryLink.org. That’s what he was really into. He only did the art because nobody else would.”