A Trip to 1967: Selections from the William C. Miles Archive

Reception: - to

Immerse yourself in the art and music of San Francisco, 1967. During this pivotal era, psychedelic music was born and poster art flourished. The poster art in the exhibition represents a snapshot of this historic period and the emergence of the counterculture. Stylistically, the vibrant colors, swirling text, and surrealistic imagery draw from the past, while simultaneously embody its moment in time. Today's audience can glimpse into this generation's community and their freedom of exploration. They will also relate to the struggle for social change that continues today.

In 1967, William C. Miles (Bill) hitchhiked from Chicago to San Francisco for the Summer of Love. He was 21 years old. It was in this moment that his passion for collecting posters and other ephemera from the 1960s was born. For the next fifty tears, until his death in 2020, Bill amassed a mountain of posters, books, and other objects that tell the story of the Counterculture of the 1960s.

"The 1960s posters were where fine art and commercial art met. It was a great time - it meant breaking all the rules." - Stanley Mouse, Poster Artist

  • Curated by Hannah Riley and Maya Miles
  • Generous support and advice from Cat Ashworth, Professor, School of Film and Animation
  • Documentation, inventory, catalogue, and research by Maya Miles
  • Based on a thesis paper by Hannah Riley*, Museum Studies 2022
  • Text design by Alexandra Cervantes and Professor Keli DiRisio (Command g Design Lab)
  • Special thanks to:
    • Dr. Juilee Decker,
    • Wendy Marks, Director of RIT University Gallery
    • Danielle Marsella, student, School of Photographic Sciences
    • Anne Punzi,
    • David Merkel,
    • Nancy David

Hannah Riley, a recent alum of the Museum Studies Program in the College of Liberal Arts, undertook an internship in the summer of 2021 working with the William C. Miles Poster Archive. The collection consisted of more than 3000 posters and other ephemera from the 1960s. Hannah worked alongside the collection’s owner, Professor Cat Ashworth, a professor in RIT’s School of Film and Animation, and Maya Miles to document, inventory, catalogue, and research the posters.

Building upon her experience, Hannah used the collection as inspiration for her capstone project, Capturing the San Francisco Sound: Psychedelic Posters of the 1960s Counterculture, for which she was awarded the inaugural award in honor of retiring museum studies faculty member, Professor Tina Lent. The award was given on Friday, March 18, 2022 as part of the College’s 42nd Annual Writing Awards Ceremony.

a poster with a human face with outstretched arms in saturated color and detailed, dense, psychedelic patterns in bright green, purple, red and yellow.
four black and white headshots of a young man super imposed over a swirling stripe pattern in red and blue.

William C. Miles

a poster with the words 'tune in, turn on, drop out' printed on a bright orange floral background.

'Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out' Timothy Leary, 1967. Artist: OM

a poster with a sky blue background with the words 'Grateful Dead' printed in a stylistic font above an image of a skeleton surrounded by red roses.

'Grateful Dead' Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, 1966. Artists: Alton Kelly and Stanley Mouse

a poster with a bright red background with text 'Jimi Hendrix Experience, John Mayall' in a swirly font above a human eyeball with wings and snakey, reptile arms with claws holding a skull.

'Jimi Hendrix Experience' Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, 1967. Artist: Rick Griffin

a poster in saturated colors and dense pinwheel psychedelic patterns in red and blue with text 'Big Brother and the Holding Company' above an image of a man wearing a top hat and smoking a joint.

'Big Brother and the Holding Company' Oxford Circle, San Francisco, 1967. Artist: Victor Moscoso

a poster in saturated color and dense psychedelic detailed patterns swirling around a profile of a man with purple hair wearing a bead necklace with text above 'Timothy Leary'..

'Timothy Leary' Black Light Poster. Artist: Joe Roberts Jr.

a poster in red, white and blue with a stylized 'Mr. Sam' like image of a man in a red and white striped coat, love beads, a large red top hat with a blue band with white stars, holding a cut out face of LBJ. Text 'turn on, tune out, drop in'.

'Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop In' 1967. Artist: John Thompson