On October 9, 2013, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will unveil its latest exhibit: Collecting the Counterculture: Julio Mario Santo Domingo, Jr. in the Museum’s Patty, Jay and Kizzie Baker Gallery. It's an exhibit that all started two years ago, in Geneva, Switzerland.
My job as the registrar at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has afforded me many opportunities to travel. One of those trips brought me to Geneva, where in November 2011 I assisted Rock Hall curators Craig Inciardi and Howard Kramer as they pored over the unique and vast collection of the late Julio Mario Santo Domingo, Jr.
When my colleagues and I arrived at the sprawling, discreet office space housing the Santo Domingo collection, I was immediately impressed and overwhelmed – there seemed to be treasures everywhere. The complex of rooms was filled with big rolls of movie and band posters, pinball machines, miscellaneous pop culture artifacts, floor-to-ceiling shelves of music and art books, and an expansive array of counterculture and drug-related paraphernalia and literature. As an Andy Warhol buff, I was particularly pleased to see one of Warhol’s small art prints, propped against a reading chair in the library.
We had just a few days to comb through the music-related items from the Santo Domingo collection and decide what would be brought back to the Museum. The curators dug through shelves and boxes, occasionally debating the merits of a particular piece, while I frantically typed a rough inventory of the items slated to come to the Museum. As we worked, a fastidious team of professional art handlers impeccably packed the items for their international journey to Cleveland.
Now, almost two years later, a portion of this remarkable collection is on loan to the Museum and soon to be on exhibit. Santo Domingo was an avid connoisseur of Rolling Stones artifacts, a number of which are featured in our exhibit Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Satisfaction exhibit.
Collecting the Counterculture: Julio Mario Santo Domingo, Jr. presents a suitably eclectic sample of singular items gathered during that trip to Geneva. One of my favorite items is the red bicycle that Pink Floyd founding member Syd Barrett owned and rode until his death in 2006.
I also love the two Warhol-related pieces: a beautiful Italian poster for Andy Warhol’s Trash film and an autographed LP cover for The Velvet Underground and Nico with its iconic Warhol-designed “peel-able” banana.
The original artwork for the Mad Magazine story “Hullabadig Au Go Go,” which appeared in the September 1966 issue and pokes fun at music TV programs like “Shindig” and includes caricatures of artists such as Bob Dylan, does a brilliant job of colorfully capturing and commenting on an important moment in music – and pop culture – history.
Collecting the Counterculture: Julio Mario Santo Domingo, Jr. officially opens on October 9, 2013 and will be on display until January 5, 2014.