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Digital Collection Spotlight: San Francisco Punk Flyers & Ephemera

Digital Collection Spotlight: San Francisco Punk Flyers & Ephemera

The Digital Collection Spotlight for May focuses on the San Francisco Punk Flyers & Ephemera collection.

The Punk movement’s culture, music, and art embody the raw expression of alienated youth and social disintegration with reckless energy. Combining the vitality of graffiti with creative spontaneity and appropriation, the art of punk flyers and ephemera exhibits a blatantly aggressive response to the psychedelic posters of the proceeding era. Born out of the chaotic economic decline of the working class in the late sixties and early seventies, the Punk aesthetic is the inevitable heir to 1950s & 60s Beat culture with its angry rejection of the status-quo and the rampant production of self –published broadsides and little magazines.

In a pre-internet, pre-Twitter world, punk flyers were speedy cut & paste productions, or hand drawn images and text. Often produced the day of an event, these flyers exemplify a low-tech, hands-on approach to design that has massively influenced today’s graphic art. Xerox-printed and stapled to poles or pasted up around town the flyers are rare and perfect ephemera: politicized, local, cheap, immediate, and made to throw away. They are an important visual records and cultural artifacts of an international youth movement.

The majority of the punk concert flyers in this collection document performances at Mabuhay Gardens, a San Francisco nightclub that started featuring rock shows around 1976. Ness Aquino, the owner of the club, collaborated with a rock promoter and television producer Dirk Dirksen in order to make Mabuhay Gardens a prominent venue for punk rock shows. Upstairs of Mabuhay was The On Broadway Theater which also served as a venue for shows.

This digital collection contains a selection of the 500-plus flyers and ephemera housed in USU’s Special Collections and Archives. Refer to the finding aid for a complete list of the items in this collection.