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Boston, MA, United States, 2009/08/12 - Original Woodstock poster designer, Arnold Skolnick, unveils a new classic.
For millions of Americans, Woodstock was more than just an extraordinary music festival. It marked a pivotal moment in a counter-cultural revolution and epitomized an entire era in America's social, political and cultural history that conjures up such references as "Kennedy Assassination", "Flower Power", "Black Panthers", "Go-Go Boots", "Man on the Moon" and "Lava Lamps". Now these and other evocative words and phrases are captured in a newly-released Woodstock 40th Anniversary poster created by Arnold Skolnick, designer of the iconic 1969 poster showing a dove perched on the arm of a guitar.
Skolnick unveiled his new poster design in Boston on Thursday, August 6th at a special event held at the International Poster Gallery on Newbury Street, one of the world's leading galleries for vintage and modern original posters. A crowd of almost 100 people gathered to hear Skolnick tell the story of how the first Woodstock poster came to be, and to enjoy the reminiscences of four Woodstock "veterans" who slogged through the mud, camped at the Hog Farm, sold concessions, and hitch-hiked their way to the watershed event. Some came wearing bells, others sported bell-bottoms and bandanas, and still others came in vintage tie-dye t-shirts with flowers in their hair.
Skolnick’s Woodstock poster played an essential role in the success of the largest rock festival of the Sixties, an event that was as famous for its freedom from violence as it was for its unparalleled musical line-up. The poster perfectly expressed in one symbol - a dove perched on a guitar - what Woodstock was about. Despite the need for lengthy text, the poster was graphically succinct and struck an enduring chord with a generation and indeed the world.
The original poster was no accident. He was a talented Madison Avenue advertising director and was skilled at hearing what a customer wanted and needed. Mr. Skolnick recalls, "The client said he wanted the event to be 'peaceful, three days long and a lot of music' so that's what I gave him." His design was the perfect solution to a licensing problem that required the festival to be relocated at the last moment from Walkill to Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, New York. The psychedelic and countercultural tone of the aborted venue’s initial poster was replaced by Skolnick's more subdued and peaceful message so the event would not be banned again-- thus creating a unique rock poster for the ages.
"At the time, nobody knew they were living a moment that would go down in history," commented Jim Lapides, owner of International Poster Gallery. "It is only now, in looking back that one sees the myriad of events, cultural influences, and key individuals who would shape the entire era of the 1960s. That's why Arnold's poster for the 40th Anniversary resonates so strongly, both with those who lived through the decade and with younger people who are now looking back on the 'Age of Aquarius'."
The Woodstock 40th Anniversary silkscreen poster is available exclusively through International Poster Gallery in Boston in a limited edition of 285, numbered and signed by Skolnick. International Poster Gallery (internationalposter.com) is located at 205 Newbury Street in Boston. Regular gallery hours are Monday through Saturday 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday noon to 6 pm. For information, call (617) 375-0076.