Opening Thursday May 12, 2011– Art from the early era of ZAP comics by Robert Crumb, Robert Williams, S Clay Wilson, Gilbert Shelton, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin and Spain Rodriguez, mainly from the collection of Glenn Bray, co-curated by Gary Panter and Chris Byrne.
ZAP:Masters of Psychedelic Art at Andrew Edlin Gallery 134 10th Avenue in Chelsea.
The accompanying cover of ZAP comix number one which appeared in microscopic form as an item in the ELECTRIC LAST MINUTE, the fold-out poster calendar that came free in every issue of EYE magazine back in the late sixties, blew my mind. It was familiar and foreign– backward-looking AND forward-looking. The tiny cover, pictured, reminded me of old Popeye comics or of the Nutt Brothers, by Gene Ahearn, the last of the really old-timey looking comics in the newspaper. It was a year or so before I got my hands on a ZAP, which by the way is a trademarked logo and the rights are shared by the aforementioned ZAP group of artists, and I wasn’t disappointed. There was a high level of skill, experimentation and a rabid interest in pushing the limits of allowed content and social critique. Some of the artists I had seen before: Rick Griffin’s work had appeared in surf mags; I looked forward to Robert William’s complex and disturbing, hence exciting, ads for Ed Roth monster shirts in various hot rod mags; Wonder Wart Hog I had seen in hot rod cartoons magazines and in his own short lived magazine; plus, I had been magnetically drawn to the funny greeting card racks in drug stores by the commercial illustrations of Robert Crumb. Something amazing had happened! A bunch of edgy cartoonists that I was already watching had grown their hair out, formed an experimental drawing club, teamed up with more insane drawers and moved to San Francisco to be hippie cartoonists and poster artists. WOW! That premise was exciting enough, but when I finally got my hands on an issue of ZAP I was ecstatically pleased to see that the drawing was of such a high, controlled, inventive, diverse order and that the disparate approaches, experiments and stylizations were somehow successfully fused into soupy collaborative drawings, just… well, it was a lot to consider. Glenn Bray is going to be in town and we can all thank him for sharing this amazing collection of psychedelic drawings with us.