Back from the Grateful Dead

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Courtesy of Stanley Mouse / Rockin Roses Gallery

Tripping through time Mouse and partner Kelley pioneered graphic art in the psychedelic era

Way back in the hippy-dippy 1960s and 1970s, Californian artist Stanley Mouse was — with creative partner Alton Kelley — the designer and executor of many of rock's most memorable album covers and concert posters. Working in an instantly recognizable style that was one part Art Nouveau, one part psychedelic cool, Mouse (who was born Stanley Miller and used a school nickname as his professional alias) helped give street cred to everyone from Journey and Jimi Hendrix to Paul McCartney and Blind Faith. But it was the Grateful Dead who were most strongly associated with the now 70-year-old artist. Together, he and Kelley designed numerous Grateful Dead album covers along with group's now iconic skeleton-and-rose logo.

More than 40 years later, that logo and dozens of other designs are on display at Mouse's new gallery Rockin Roses, tel: (1-707) 433 6400, Located in Healdsburg, Calif., the heart of the Sonoma wine country, the gallery's displays stand as a visual testament not only to Mouse's own talents but to a chapter in rock history. Many pieces are now coveted and expensive originals: a cover for Hendrix's never released final Power of Soul album sells for $100,000, while a cool million will net Mouse's original Zig-Zag poster for San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom, where he and Kelley were retained as poster artists in the late 1960s. "Folks call it the symbol of a generation," Mouse says. Far more affordable at a mere $300 are present-day works, such as a guitar-strumming skeleton or a cat bathed in starlight printed on sheets of perforated LSD blotter paper. "Don't worry," Mouse chuckles. "They're not dipped."

Unsurprisingly, the gallery has become a shrine for grownup rockers hoping to recapture moments from a bohemian past. "Many wander through the gallery with tears in their eyes," Mouse says. "They make me wonder, Hey, when did all the Deadheads [Grateful Dead fans] get so old? — until I remember that I'm kind of old myself."

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