Merle Becker’s passionate collectible, “American Artifact: The Rise Of American Rock Poster Art,” runs the gamut of its title topic across forty years, from 1960s druggy San Francisco concert art to the Grateful Dead’s skeletal notices to the notably whimsical art wild-posted and limited-editioned in every large-to-medium-sized city in the country where musicians meet and play. In the best of contemporary rock art posters, melody meets the mind of another: what did this song make me see, what does this illustration make me hear, or better, want to hear? Becker’s documentary is a lovely convocation of piquant American oddity, a fine complement to all those nabbed bits of silk-screen gig art you’ve stashed under the couch or futon or behind the dresser. With more than thirty artists, including Jim Pollock, Jay Ryan, Mat Daly, Frank Kozik [art pictured], Stanley Mouse, Leia Bell, Stainboy, COOP, Derek Hess, Art Chantry, Jim Sherraden and Hatch Show Print, Tara McPherson, Mark Arminski, Lani Barry, Stan Beinstein. 88m. DigiBeta. (Ray Pride)
“American Artifact” opens Friday at Siskel. Becker and poster artists Jay Ryan, Mat Daly, Steve Ryan and Jim Pollock appear at the 8pm Saturday show.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.