If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away---Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Stanley Mouse: Lowbrow Artist of Monster T-Shirts and Psychedelic Posters

Growing up in Southern California in the 50s and 60s and I was early into Kustom Kar Culture, as were many other kids. I remember really getting into the airbrushed Monster hot rod t-shirts of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth and Stanley Mouse and sending for catalogs of their shirts, which I still own!

Some would attribute the origin of monster t-shirts to Roth, though while Roth worked in black and white Mouse was working in bright colors. They even met at a hot rod show and Roth told Mouse he could show him how to make $300 in a few hours, which he did. Roth took home his catalogs full of monsters and later came up with Rat Fink, his anti-Mickey Mouse character, that looked strangley like Mouse's monsters.

Mouse took his cheese, left Detroit and art school, and moved to San Francisco in 1965 right before the flowering of the hippie movement. With places like the Fillmore West and the Avalon Ballroom holding rock concerts posters became not only a form of advertisement but a psychedelic art form. Mouse, along with his partner Alton Kelley,created countless posters, including Art Nouveau style with a few, like the the skeleton and roses Grateful Dead poster, becoming an icon of the Dead and the times.

Though his work slowed after the poster years Mouse has continued to produce memorable artwork from album covers for Journey to "lowbrow" paintings. Mouse will always have a place in my early art history.

1 comment: