I visited the Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts last week. They do good job of setting the scene of the 1960’s in general by illustrating the changes the nation was going through—both socially and politically. But I most enjoyed all the Woodstock memorabilia and the sections talking about the festival itself. I really appreciated that they had a lot of the printed ephemera on display.
It was interesting to see the various ways that the Aquarian Exposition was portrayed in the posters and ads. Just the fact that it had an art component, in addition to the music, was not really something I had been aware of. (Unfortunately, the photos I took aren’t great since they were through the glass exhibition cases, but you can get a sense of the designs…)
The first depiction is all Art Nouveau and highly decorative. Not a look I ever equated with Woodstock. It was created by David Edward Byrd and is based on Jean Auguste Dominique Ingre’s La Source. The slightly sad story (and a clearer image) of how Bryd left for vacation and couldn’t be contacted to redo the piece can be found here.
This later simply stylized version, created by Arnold Skolnick, has definitely became iconic. Once the festival was moved from the Wallkill to White Lake, a new ‘peaceful’ look was needed, so that they wouldn’t get kicked out of town again. Apparently Skolnick had only a long weekend for the project and the resulting cut paper bird perched on a guitar neck marries peace & music perfectly.
(According to this site, the bird is not a dove, but rather a catbird, which was inspired by the creatures Skolnick had been seeing out on Shelter Island, where he had been spending the summer. I’m planning a trip to visit a friend who lives on Shelter Island in a week or so and will now be on high alert for catbird sightings!)
Lastly, these two black & white beauties were my favorite graphic design examples on display.