Poster child

It’s wise to avoid words like “masterpiece” and “tour de force” when commenting on rock ’n’ roll poster art. Hyperbole, after all, can be a turd in the punchbowl when it comes to nostalgia. But in the rare instance that a graphic artist’s work is as accessible, seminal and immediately identifiable as Gary Grimshaw’s, then well-thought-out kudos are perfectly within reason.

Poster art is a medium for the walls of weed-hazy dorm rooms and subterranean dwellings, but just because the working-class genre doesn’t get the same kind of pedantic hoopla as “fine art” doesn’t mean that it should be swept under the rug. Ask Patt Slack, owner of the River’s Edge Gallery in downtown Wyandotte. She’ll tell you that any artist who has the chutzpah and chops to make art a lifelong profession deserves respect. That’s why Grimshaw’s opening at the River’s Edge last week felt like a very big deal.

“There’s this group of artists who are Detroit icons,” Slack says. “They have been tramping the streets for years and making history. Gary’s definitely one of them.”

Grimshaw started making poster art in 1966, and, over the years, secured himself a spot on the masthead of Detroit’s rock ’n’ roll scene. Over the years he did work for the famous Grande Ballroom, and for such bands as the Stooges and the MC5. His album cover design for the MC5’s 1968 release, Kick out the Jams, is on view in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. But what’s even more impressive than Grimshaw’s curriculum vitae as ’60s hipster — more important than his credentials as an organizer of the John Sinclair Freedom Rally and associate art director for Creem magazine — is that Grimshaw, unlike the events, bands and torn-down venues he helped make famous, isn’t ready to cash in on legacy status just yet.

Stop by the River’s Edge Gallery and you’ll see. Cool never went out of style. —


Grimshaw’s artwork is for sale at the River’s Edge Gallery, 3024 Biddle Ave., Wyandotte; 734-246-9880.The artist will also be at Wyandotte Art Fair for a meet-and-greet, 6-8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, July 15 and 16.

Eve Doster is the listings editor for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]
Scroll to read more Arts articles

Join Detroit Metro Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.