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The Suburbanite
  • History preserved in pyschedelic posters

  • John Bellas, a retired teacher and business owner from North Canton, has many memories of the music of that era. He's been an avid collector of vinyl records for years and started to collect original posters of musical groups from the 60s about eight years ago.

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  • The music of the 1960s made significant contributions to what was happening during that particular decade. America was involved in the Viet Nam War, a U.S. president and eventually his brother was assassinated. And, the hippy generation protested almost everything, everywhere across the U.S.
    The music of the time is some of the most memorable and everything associated with the music has become highly collectible. Much of the music is still played on major radio stations today, 50 years later.
    John Bellas, a retired teacher and business owner from North Canton, has many memories of the music of that era. He's been an avid collector of vinyl records for years and started to collect original posters of musical groups from the 60s about eight years ago.
    “I started collecting records when I was a kid,” Bellas said, “and that interest later led me to start collecting posters, postcards and handbills of concerts and music groups.”
    Some of his collection will be on exhibit  dubbed “Art Out Loud” and will appear in Studio M at the Massillon Museum through the summer. His opening night coincided with the “Snap! In the Photo Booth with Andy Warhol and Friends.”
    ART, MUSIC
    Bellas was available during opening night and will be available other nights throughout the summer to talk to visitors about the posters and other items on display. He has a wealth of information about what was happening in the music world in the 60s and 70s.
    “I've collected items mostly from music clubs from Detroit and San Francisco. The Grande Ballroom in Detroit, The Fillmore West and the Avalon Ballrooms in San Francisco are the venues most of my collections are focused on,” Bellas said. “When Woodstock took place, it brought rock ’n roll to a bigger stage and many of the smaller venues closed.”  
    He started collecting the posters because of the elaborate artwork. The quality of the artwork, the condition of the poster and the sacristy of the group have helped some posters increase in value to thousands of dollars.
    “It's interesting that some people want to collect posters in mint condition and others want the posters that were hanging on the wall at the venue or in someone's home,” Bellas said. “Most of the posters were available for sale in music stores for $2 back in the 60s.”
     
    POSTER ARTISTS
    Another collectible factor is the artist who created a poster. Bellas has researched many details about the artists.
    “I was invited to San Francisco for The Poster Society of America show and I got to meet some of the artists who designed the posters,” Bellas said.
    Two of the artists that worked on the posters from the Grande in Detroit include Carl Lundgren and Gary Grimshaw. Lundgren was on hand for the MassMu exhibit’s opening weekend. Some of the artists from San Francisco include Lee Conklin, Victor Moscoso and Stanley Mouse among others.
    Page 2 of 2 - He has also met some of the band members from the 60s music groups. He's met different members of The Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Co. and the guitarist who played for The Frost, Alice Cooper and Lou Reed.
    GETTING STARTED
    Some people collect for investment purposes and others collect just for the posters and the artists. Bellas suggests that collecting posters is a good way to relive the music of a particular era. Viewing his collection is a good start for those interested in collecting or for those who may never have seen the artwork from the 60s.
    “The best way to get started is do some research and do your homework. Start out with lower priced posters and start with posters that you like,” Bellas said. “I've never had a poster go down in value because I've always purchased at the right time.”
    Bellas said it's important to collect because it's a vital way to preserve history. The posters are from era of social unrest and the music was associated with the anti-war movement.
    “I hope a lot of people come out for the Andy Warhol exhibit and then stops by to see the posters,” Bellas said. “People can also buy posters.”
    Bellas's excitement about the music and about his collection is evident when talking with him. Some of his favorite groups include the Animals, MC5 and the Yardbirds. It only took a second for him to decide on a favorite collectible. A poster called the 'Cremesicle' which is signed by Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce who were members of the band Cream is clearly his pride and joy.

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