The heart of 1960s American counterculture was in San Francisco. Here a hub of different people blended to reject mainstream American values and prioritize experimentation, creativity, and a freer way of life. Through art, performance, drugs, light shows, fashion, and rock music, a psychedelic scene was created. Rock music became the center of the psychedelic scene, and the San Francisco sound was developed with a new subculture of rock called acid rock, or psychedelic rock, that empowered the counterculture. The bands that highlighted the San Francisco sound include Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and Big Brother and the Holding Company. The counterculture movement has been largely documented through poster art that was mainly used to promote concerts. Artists like Victor Moscoso, Wes Wilson, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelly, and Rick Griffin captured the characteristics of the 1960s counterculture in their poster art. I worked with many of these posters when archiving the William C. Miles Poster Archive, which contains original rock, drug, and political posters from the 1960s and 1970s. From the collection and my research, I have designed an exhibition that illustrates the characteristics of San Francisco’s counterculture in the 1960s, focusing on the San Francisco sound and the San Francisco Scene. This project answers the question: how can printed posters communicate aspects of the American counterculture of the 1960s in San Francisco, specifically the San Francisco Sound and the San Francisco Scene? Titled A Trip to 1967, the exhibit highlights topics like Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, the Summer of Love, the Acid Tests, psychedelics, Haight-Ashbury, the Monterey Pop Festival, protests, and the Vietnam War.
Museum Studies (BS)
Riley, Hannah, "Capturing the San Francisco Sound: Psychedelic Posters of the 1960s Counterculture" (2022). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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