Gary Grimshaw, 1984
Photograph by Scott
Gary Grimshaw: Biography
"If he hadn't been the poster artist for
the counterculture, he could have been its poster child."
--The Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's 100 Greatest Artists
& Entertainers of the Twentieth Century" December 12, 1999.
Gary Grimshaw is a graphic artist specializing
in the music business since his first concert poster design in 1966.
He was the primary poster and light show artist for Detroit's Grande
Ballroom through 1969. During this time he also created art for
Detroit's notorious rock & roll band the MC5. Currently an album
cover design for the MC5's first album "Kick Out The Jams"
painted in 1968 is on view at Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall of
Fame & Museum. Gary established a connection with the San
Francisco Bay Area with frequent trips out west 1966-70, where he
worked for the beautiful San Francisco Oracle and the radical
A Vietnam veteran, Gary was consistently
active in the anti-war movement after his discharge. The 10 year
sentence imposed by the State of Michigan on his friend poet John
Sinclair on a conviction of possession of two joints demanded Gary's
return to The Great Lakes State and his assuming the duties of
Minister of Art and Central Committee member of the White Panther
Party. Subsequently, the John Sinclair Freedom Rally at Crisler
Arena in Ann Arbor in December 1971 with performers John Lennon and
Yoko Ono, Stevie Wonder, Bob Seger, speaker Bobby Seale and many
others resulted in the reduction by the Michigan State Legislature
of the penalty for possession of marijuana from a felony to a
misdemeanor and John was freed.
With John back on the street, Gary became the
art director for the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festivals in 1972
and 1973. In 1974 Gary returned to his hometown Detroit and
concentrated on its thriving rock & roll scene. For the next 14
years he produced posters, recording packages, logos and graphics
for all of the major promoters and dozens of bands and clubs in the
Motor City. He was also associate art director for Creem Magazine
from 1976 to 1984. In 1984 he co-founded MSA (Music/Media Services
Associates) with John Sinclair and Frank Bach, an agency that had
among its clients The City of Detroit (Hart Plaza and Chene Park
events), The Music Hall Theatre, and several clubs and bands. MSA
also managed The Urbations and produced special events such as the
Detroit For Africa concert in 1985.
The publication in 1986 of The Art Of Rock:
Posters From Presley To Punk by Paul Grushkin (Abbeville Press) was
a turning point in Gary's career. This massive tome has become the
"bible" of rock & roll poster collectors. In it Gary
is recognized as one of the originators of the form. Iggy Pop,
having seen The Art Of Rock, hired Gary to design the cover art for
his 1987 A&M record Instinct. In 1988 Gary became art director
of ArtRock and moved to San Francisco with his wife Laura. In 1991
he resigned from ArtRock and returned to freelancing. Gary did 5
posters for Bill Graham Presents, posters for local Bay Area shows
and began reprinting his early posters.
Exhibitions of Gary's work include 3 one-man
shows in Detroit (1984 at Alvin's, 1987 at the Michigan Gallery and
1996 at the Cass Cafe). Group exhibitions include the DIA in 1974
and 1980, the Motor City Joint Show in Ferndale with Stanley Mouse,
Mark Arminski and Wes Wilson in 1993, the San Francisco Rock Poster
Expos at Golden Gate Park in 1992 and 1993, the Temporary Insanity
Shows on Haight Street in 1995 and 1996, the Visual Jams Show during
the opening of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum at
Cleveland in 1995, and the San Francisco Rock & Roll Poster
Revival Show in 1999.
Currently Gary and Laura have opened an art
shop in downtown Oakland, CA named PaperSong at Swan's Market
featuring his works and those of Dennis Loren, Marco Almera, Jim
Phillips, Lee Conklin, Mark London, Frank Kozik, Shag and others.
PaperSong's grand opening in November 2000 featured a free concert
in the courtyard by Big Brother and the Holding Co. and the Bay Area
Blues Society's Caravan of All Stars. PaperSong is an ongoing
sponsor of the Home Grown Blues free concert series in downtown
Gary's posters are available at www.posterplanet.com
and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org