Rick Griffin

Jook Savage Psychedelic Shop poster

This poster was created for the Human Be-In event in 1967, which was held in the Polo Grounds of the Golden Gate park in San Francisco. The event was extremely historically important, as it was considered the climax of the Haight Ashbury psychedelic 60s scene, the manifestation of their ideals, and it became the predecessor to the famous Summer of Love and love-ins. It basically established the Haight Ashbury neighborhood as an icon of American counterculture and the hippie movement. The Human Be-In involved bands, beat authors, psychedelic proponents, spiritualists and political revolutionaries advocating for higher consciousness, environmental safety awareness, radical liberty and equality, communal living and acceptance of the use of psychedelic drugs. Local bands played, including the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Big Brother and the Holding Company. The organizers of the Be-In commissioned this piece after they saw his art exhibit for the Jook Savages which celebrated the first year anniversary of their psychedelic shop on Haight Street. It was at this event that Timothy Leary uttered what may be the most well-known phrase in psychedelia: “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” The warped lettering is characteristic of psychedelic posters, and this piece seems to have been part of the inception of the art movement itself. This poster advertises the event as a “gathering of tribes,” and shows an image of a Native American on horseback holding a guitar and some sort of tapestry or large cloth. He took some imagery, the phrase “pow wow” (meaning  a social gathering in which Native Americans would come together to sing, dance and celebrate their culture), and the pattern on the “pow wow” text from Native American culture. The eagle’s foot holding lightning bolts is reminiscent of Americana art. The date, time and place are found at the bottom of the poster, in a similar lettering style to the names on the sides, but not quite as decorated. The names of Timothy Leary, a famous acid lover, and Allen Ginsberg, the Beat poet, are written in an Old Western feeling font, as if Griffin is trying to give the viewer a “cowboys and indians” vibe, maybe referencing the old children’s game but putting that in a more peaceful situation. It’s interesting that the poster basically advertises Buddha being there too, since his name is in the bottom right corner, but I guess that accounts for the spiritualists.