By 1967, the San Francisco psychedelic scene was little more than a year old, but the brightly colored concert posters designed for shows at the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore Auditorium were already popular collectors items among members of the counterculture and young residents of the Bay Area. And five young graphic artists - Wes Wilson, Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse, Victor Moscoso and Rick Griffin - had already established themselves as the dominant masters of the psychedelic poster in San Francisco.
However, like many graphic artists, the five poster designers sought to be takn seriously as artists and desired an exhibition at an art gallery. On July 17, 1967 they got their wish, when a group exhibition of the "Big Five" poster artists opened at the Charles Moore Gallery on Sutter Street in San Francisco. Because this was the psychedelic era, the exhibition was titled "Joint Show" and each of the artists designed their own poster for the event.
Each of the five posters reflected the artist's own style, but it was Griffin's image of a package of marijuana cigarettes replete with the borrowed image of the Orientalist "Zig Zag" man that became one of the iconic images of the Psychedelic Era. Wes Wilson chose a larger size for his poster with a design featuring an image of a nude woman with the lettering in the shape of her voluptuous form. This is now one of the most famous images in the University of Virginia's poster collection. Victor Moscoso chose an image of a reclining nude as well but juxtaposed her with a slice of cherry pie. The designs by the team of Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse featured collaged items but were more abstract than many of their concert posters.
Unfortunately, the Joint Show was a short-lived phenomenon. Although the five psychedelic artists were innovative poster designers who had pioneered an art form, they were not yet sophisticated fine artists who did the type of work that fit easily into a gallery setting. Furthermore, the young people who were drawn to their work did not possess the financial resources to collect fine art and make the Joint Show participants successful artists. Consequently, the Joint Show - held during the "Summer of Love" - was the only attempt at the serious exhibition of psychedelia held in the 1960s. The posters are thus rare and highly valued relics that reflect a brief moment in the turbulent sixties.