Grande Ballroom Poster Exhibition

Grande Ballroom Poster Exhibition

April 01, 2019

EXTENDED THROUGH JUNE!

Rare posters, handbills, and postcards from Detroit's Grande Ballroom are currently on display at the Haight Street Art Center. Wed-Sun, 12noon-6pm.

In 1966, the psychedelic explosion began in San Francisco and swept across America. Its most widely recognized production was the two series of rock concert posters created for Bill Graham and Chet Helms. These rightly have been characterized as the most important graphic art created in America in the Twentieth Century.

Unfortunately, even fifty years later people all over America are unaware that there was another major series of psychedelic rock concert posters which are on the same high artistic level as the posters created for the San Francisco concerts. These are the posters created in Detroit, Michigan for the Grande Ballroom concerts put on by Russ Gibb, a Detroit school teacher turned concert promoter.

 

Poster by Carl Lundgren

The artists who created the vast majority of these posters for Russ Gibb were Gary Grimshaw and Carl Lundgren. It has been said many times by the few people outside Michigan who know this art that if it had been created in San Francisco, Grimshaw and Lundgren would be household names like Wilson, Mouse, Kelley, Moscoso, and Griffin. It would have been the big seven psychedelic poster artists, not the big five.

Poster by Gary Grimshaw

There are a variety of reasons for their relative artistic obscurity. The press runs of the Grande Ballroom posters were a lot smaller than the press runs of the San Francisco posters, and there was no reprinting for sale in head shops. A lot fewer of the Grande Ballroom posters survive because there were a lot fewer poster collectors in Detroit. Many of these great images were printed only in postcard size, and people tend to discount the artistic value of small images against larger ones. Also, Detroit was not seen as the heart of the psychedelic movement, not seen as the home of the American counterculture the way San Francisco was. There were no LIFE magazine articles about legions of flower children in Detroit.

Nevertheless, these posters exist, and any serious examination of them shows they are on the high level of artistic excellence of the San Francisco posters. The purpose of this exhibition is to begin to rectify this injustice and bring the work of Gary Grimshaw and Carl Lundgren the widespread recognition and respect it rightfully deserves.

- Eric King
  February 18, 2019

About Eric King

Eric King began collecting San Francisco Bay Area Dance-Concert posters in 1966. Mr. King is the author of Collector’s Guide to Rock Concert Posters, Postcards and Handbills 1965 to 1973, the definitive and exhaustive resource for information on this important art form.