Pointedly relevant in an era of renewed social protest, “There’s Something Happening Here…On The Sunset Strip 1966” is a series of exhibitions and events marking the 50th anniversary of the Sunset Strip riots, and spotlighting the enduring significance of the music, activism, and revolution that united and shaped a generation (www.bit.ly/SunsetStrip66). Presented by the City of West Hollywood through WeHo Arts, programming continues with the outdoor exhibition “Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of The Sunset Strip” by photographer Robert Landau. Ten large format (8’ H x 13’ W) pieces will be installed the morning of Tuesday, February 7 around the perimeter of the city parking lot at 8775 Sunset Blvd, 90069. Landau will be on-site from 3-5PM to meet people and discuss the work – those interested may drop by at their convenience (a formal talk is scheduled for April 26).
Landau’s photographs capture the era from 1967 to 1980 when bigger-than-life record company billboards – promoting music icons including The Beatles, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Marvin Gaye, The Who and Diana Ross, among many others – transformed the Sunset Strip into the world’s largest drive-through art gallery. In the late 1960s, Landauwas a kid with his first camera, living a block off the Strip. He noticed that the billboards, hand-finished by highly trained commercial painters, had a short life span, and would routinely be changed to advertise new albums and artists. He began shooting color transparencies of these one-of-a-kind pop culture urban artworks so he could have slide shows for friends who wouldn’t otherwise get to see them.
Decades later, Landau rediscovered his Kodachromes , which ended up being the only extensive collection of photographs to document this remarkable Sunset Strip phenomenon. Inspired, he interviewed the artists, record producers, and designers who brought the billboards to life, lending fresh insight to the culture of the day. It’s all chronicled in Landau’sbook Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip (Angel City Press, www.rockandrollbillboards.com), and he’ll discuss the project and his process during his April 26 talk, scheduled for 7PM place in the City of West Hollywood Public Meeting Room/City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., 90069.
Also upcoming is “The Rise of Counterculture in West Hollywood: Art, Music and Poetry,” a talk by author and culture historian Domenic Priore (Riot on the Sunset Strip: Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Last Stand in Hollywood, Jawbone Press, London) set for February 8 at 7PM. Priore will explore the moment between 1965 and 1966 that the Sunset Strip became the epicenter of the folk music scene, previously centered in New York City’s Greenwich Village. That turning point began when Bob Dylan first took the stage with The Byrds at Ciro’s. The scene flourished as acts such as Frank Zappa, Love, The Doors, and Buffalo Springfield became world-famous – as did venues including Whisky a Go Go, It’s Boss, The Trip and Pandora’s Box. The 1966 closure of the latter club incited the so-called “Sunset Strip Riots,” which later inspired Buffalo Springfield’s protest era anthem “For What It’s Worth.” WeHo Arts’ program title “There’s Something Happening Here…On The Sunset Strip 1966” plays off the song’s most famous lyric. Priore’s talk is free, and will take place in the City of West Hollywood Public Meeting Room/City Council Chambers (625 N. San Vicente Blvd., 90069); free parking validation will be available for the five-story Public/Park structure adjacent to the Library. To RSVP: http://bit.ly/WeHoArtsCounterculture.
Ongoing, “There’s Something Happening Here…,” an exhibition of work by legendary rock ‘n roll photographer Henry Diltz, is on view through May 3 on the second floor of the West Hollywood Library (during regular library hours; 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., 90069). Diltz’s images celebrate the performers integral to the Sunset Strip music scene, as well as the extraordinary community of artists that existed in the hills just above West Hollywood in Laurel Canyon. For more than 40 years, Diltz’s work has graced hundreds of album covers and been featured in books, magazines and newspapers. His unique artistic style has produced powerful photographic essays on Woodstock, The Monterey Pop Festival, The Doors, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Jimi Hendrix, and scores of other artists.