An arty blast from pop’s past
One-day exhibit begins in the ’60s
Some of the images in a rare exhibit this weekend in Duxbury record the icons of pop music history when rock was young. Some also tell little-known stories.
One of the pieces is proof artwork for the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine’’ album and accompanying book. The piece transforms Paul McCartney’s head and “Beatles haircut’’ into a giant walrus, a reference to the group’s song “I Am the Walrus.’’ Behind the lads, the guru-to-the-stars Maharishi Mahesh Yogi gazes on benignly.
But this version of the cover art captures a change of direction in the career of the era’s most popular entertainers, since the Beatles fell out with the Maharishi and his face was removed from the cover.
An image of the Rolling Stones on a store promotional poster for their 1968 hit song “Jumpin’ Jack Flash’’ was as common as dust when the record came out.
“The posters were stuck on storefront windows for a few months and then something else was stuck on top of them. So most people threw them away, and the ones they kept became rare,’’ Get Back Art’s owner Anthony Wyatt said in a telephone interview last week.
He adds that the title of that hard-rocking number was borrowed from the name of Keith Richards’s gardener at his country home “Redlands.’’ “I did mention,’’ the collector notes by e-mail, “that my mind is full of useless information.’’
Trivia or history, the Get Back Art exhibit includes approximately 100 images, covering rock art from the ’60s and ’70s and “popular culture in paintings, prints, and photographs from a broader period,’’ Wyatt said. His publicity describes the show as a one-day selling exhibition of original posters, paintings, and photographic stills from rock, popular culture, and film.
A British expat who recently moved here, the Duxbury resident found the space he was seeking for an exhibition in the church hall of Duxbury’s First Parish, which he is renting for the one-day show.
Wyatt said his collection of pop culture imagery dates back to his days of owning a record store south of London “before the gray hair.’’
“I first cottoned to it when we had the record store and the covers were 12-by-12 inches, he said. The size of the recordings generated the need for record covers and the birth of what came to be known as “cover art.’’ Then “poster art’’ developed in the late ’60s and created a unique psychedelic style for advertising live performances by rock bands.
The poster art was huge on both sides of the Atlantic, Wyatt said, and “album covers became artworks in themselves.’’
Most of the pieces in his collection have a European provenance. The influential London design studio Hapshash and the Coloured Coat produced concert posters such as one depicting Jimi Hendrix as an American Indian holding a bow and a peace pipe, and it helped turn many posters into art.
The show also includes works from Bob Dylan’s 2008 “Drawn Blank Series,’’ inspired by his sketches and drawings while on tour in the late ’80s and ’90s. Works such as a dark acrylic painting of his own profile with tape machines in a studio, titled “Another All Nighter,’’ are signed in pencil by Dylan and framed.
Dylan’s art book of the series drew a rave review in The New York Times by Marisha Pessl, who called the series “an extraordinary collection of paintings,’’ offering “views from his hotel and backstage dressing room, a playground slide that caught his eye, a fat curtain in his room,’’ and people he met.
Also included are photographic stills from a European film archive and images by the Californian movie artist Alex Laurant, including an art production image of a sailing vessel caught in ice floes for the 2003 film “Peter Pan.’’
The show’s film images include an original canvas used as a prop for the 1989 movie “Batman,’’ a black-and-white image of Sean Connery watching Oddjob throw his deadly hat in the 1964 Bond classic “Goldfinger,’’ a still of the famous chariot race scene from the 1957 film “Ben Hur,’’ and a 1968 image of Elvis Presley imitating an “Uncle Sam Wants You’’ poster.
Concert posters include an original Fleetwood Mac poster from a 1975 tour; a poster featuring the two-finger “peace sign’’ for the 1969 Atlanta Pop Festival; and a colorful image of a dragon for a cancelled Rolling Stones concert.
Because “people tend to whisper in galleries, as they do in libraries,’’ Wyatt said, he hired guitarist Ray Papile to play pop favorites in the hall.
The decades covered in the show’s images, as the music industry moved from wax LPs to iPods, remain an age of wonder, Wyatt said. “When I was a youngster, we had shops selling music recorded on huge plastic circles, and nowadays it’s all in a little box.’’
Robert Knox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.