Wes Wilson, Psychedelic Poster Pioneer, Dies at 82

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The next year he started making posters for shows, and within a year they began to draw national notice. He was written up in Time and other magazines.

“Expanding like the mind to fill every conceivable bit of space,” Time wrote of his designs, “they are intended to capture the visual experiences of an LSD tripper when, as one hippie puts it, ‘You look at your hand, and it goes in all directions.’”

Mr. Wilson’s style influenced Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, Stanley (Mouse) Miller and Alton Kelley, who were also making poster art in San Francisco; together they are sometimes labeled the Big Five of the genre. Mr. Wilson, though, moved on from posters, working in enameled glass and then in watercolor.

“His watercolors of the ’70s to early ’80s capture some of the same luminosity and space-partitioning qualities of the glass work,” Jacaeber Kastor, who mounted a Wilson show at his Psychedelic Solution gallery in the West Village of Manhattan in 1987, said by email. “His focus shifted to doing portraits, and he mainly chose to portray people he personally found interesting or significant.”

After moving to the Ozarks in 1976, Mr. Wilson split his time between making art and raising beef cattle. The 1987 exhibit and other gallery shows rekindled his interest in posters, and for a time he published a journal on poster art and related subjects called Off the Wall.

Mr. Wilson’s first marriage, to JoAnn Kimmons, ended in divorce. In addition to his son Jason, who is from his second marriage, Mr. Wilson is survived by his wife, Eva (Bessie) Wilson; three children from his first marriage, Karen Borgfeldt, Shirryl Bayless and Kelly Wiedman; two other children from his second marriage, Colin Wilson and Theanna Teodorovic; 10 grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.


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