The Hippy Aesthetic

The current exhibit on Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys, and the poster art they inspired, had curators at the Kelley House Museum in Mendocino digging through the archives and finding wonderful depictions of local folks, and flights of fantasy, produced by illustrators and cartoonists of the late 1960s and 70s. On August 14th at 3:30 p.m., “Sunday Afternoon With…the Cat Mother Illustrators” will take you back to the glory days.

Hippy Art
A few of the works to be discussed at the Sunday afternoon chat with the artists.

All three of the illustrators arrived on the Mendocino coast from elsewhere and, while they may have become hippies when they got here, they had been professional artists and all continued to work commercially. Each man, in his own special way, captured the Mendocino vibe of the time.

Take Chuck Hathaway and his vision of Mendocino Bay: his quirky mind imagined the bay full of browsing dinosaurs. This image delights children and grown-ups. Hathaway worked as a commercial artist and in music publishing in Southern California before moving up in 1970. He was graphic consultant with the local Real Estate magazine, helped start the Mendocino Art Center’s Arts & Entertainment Magazine, and maintained the coast office of the Mendocino Grapevine newspaper. He produced art from his Mendocino Graphics business and enjoyed the arrival of computers.

Mervin Gilbert is a New Yorker who transplanted himself from the East Coast to LA, then to San Francisco, and from there to Mendocino. From the early 1970’s he did cartoons in the Grapevine, Big River News, and Mendocino Review, and he created “Mendocino Funnies,” a short-lived comic book series. His “Life in the Northwest Nowhere” cartoons became a book in 1990 and will be for sale at the event. He helped bring the Japanese martial art of aikido to the coast, where he taught it for years. He also acted with the Mendocino Theater Company.

John Chamberlin died in 2013, but left poster art and T-shirt designs that live on to this day. If a design was needed for a meeting, a fundraiser, an environmental event or a boogie, John was the man to see. Another relocated New Yorker, he had worked in advertising on Madison Avenue. He was also a musician who played with Cat Mother and other local bands. A 2015 retrospective show of his art works put together by Kathy O’Grady had old hippies gazing at his posters and asking each other, “Do you remember THAT boogie?”

The museum is proud to have in its archives the works of all three illustrators as well as those of Nicholas Wilson, and happier still to host the Sunday afternoon discussion of 1970s cartoonists in Mendocino. The public is invited to attend for $7; Kelley House Museum members pay $5. Masks are preferred, please. Call 937-5791 for more information. 

The Kelley House Museum is open from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM Thursday through Sunday. Walking tours of the historic district depart from the Kelley House regularly; for the tour schedule, visit www.kelleyhousemuseum.org.