American Artifact: The Rise Of American Rock Poster Art Documentary To Premiere In San Francisco

May 27, 2009, 9 years ago

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American Artifact: The Rise Of American Rock Poster Art, the long-awaited documentary about the history and resurgence of the American Rock Poster, is scheduled to premiere June 20th, in San Francisco, as part of The Rock Poster Society's Rock Art By The Bay event.

The film, four years in the making, is the story of one of America's truest folk art forms, the rock poster.

Beginning in the 1960s in San Francisco with the birth of the dance concert, a rock poster accompanied almost every show that was put on during that era.

"At the time, JANIS JOPLIN and THE GRATEFUL DEAD were not played on the radio, and the only way you could advertise their shows, was by hanging posters in the streets", explains author Robert Greenfield, from the film.

Soon, people began pulling the posters off of the telephone poles, almost as quickly as they were put up, and promoters such as Bill Graham started to give them out at the end of his shows to advertise the next week's show.

The art, both beautiful and edgy, closely parallels the changes in American culture throughout the decades.

"Posters" in the '80s were actually "flyers" done for punk shows on Xerox machines in local libraries, or at Kinko's. They were glued to buildings and phone poles surreptitiously at night by kids in the scene. In this pre-computer era, the flyers were, for lack of a better comparison "the MySpace of the '80s".

Today, America is seeing a resurgence in this art form, brought upon by the popularity of websites like, and the ease of silk screening. Artists like EMEK, Tara McPherson, and Jay Ryan are creating beautiful works of art for contemporary groups like THE DECEMBERISTS and DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE.

This extraordinary film, which includes interviews with over 30 artists, takes the viewer on a journey through the different decades and incarnations of this rebellious art form, and spends time with, arguably, some of the finest artists of this era.

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