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Subject: Bonnie Maclean, Poster artist and was wife of concert promoter Bill Graham

Dead at 80
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Date Posted: Wednesday, March 11, 04:01:34pm


Bonnie Maclean, pioneering rock poster artist and wife of Bill Graham, dies at 80

Aidin Vaziri
February 12, 2020
Updated: February 13, 2020, 9:53 pm

Bonnie Maclean, one of the primary poster artists of the late 1960s psychedelic rock era, and onetime wife of concert promoter Bill Graham, died Feb. 4, at a hospice care facility in Newton, Pa. She was 80.

Her death was confirmed by the Varcoe-Thomas Funeral Home of Doylestown, Pa. No cause was given.

Known for her vivid, hand-drawn bills advertising concerts by the likes of Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, the Who, the Doors and the Yardbirds, Maclean served as the in-house poster artist at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco from 1967 to 1971.

She took over the position from Wes Wilson, who died last month, initially emulating his provocative Art Nouveau style before developing her signature touches, highlighted by elaborate plumes, curving letters and stoic faces.

Maclean said she was given free rein as an artist at the Fillmore, leading her to experiment wildly with the 14-by-20-inch works.

“I could do what I wanted, but the object was for people to notice the poster and hopefully come out,” she told the Bucks County Courier Times in 2015.

While Maclean was not recognized among the “big five” Haight-Ashbury poster artists who came to be associated with the iconography of the counterculture scene — Wilson, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley, Victor Moscoso and Rick Griffin — she stood out as one of the only women in the field.

Her work is just as revered among collectors. It has been displayed in San Francisco’s de Young Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Oakland Museum of California, as well as the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Bonnie MacLean was born on Dec. 28, 1939, in Philadelphia to Russell MacLean and Beatrice White. She grew up in Trenton, N.J., but returned to Pennsylvania where she graduated from Penn State University in 1961 with a degree in French. The following year, she took a job at the Pratt Institute in New York City, where she took drawing lessons in the evening.

In 1963, Maclean moved to San Francisco and was hired by Graham as his secretary at the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co. By the time he left the company to work as the business manager of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, leading to his job as a rock concert promoter at the Fillmore, they were a romantic couple.

MacLean continued her administrative role under Graham at the new venue, handling finances, scheduling and obtaining permits. She also illustrated the in-house blackboards promoting concerts, inspiring Graham to hire her as art director after Wilson quit in 1967 over a royalty dispute.

MacLean and Graham married on June 11, 1967, at their home on Sacramento Street. In lieu of a honeymoon, they attended the Monterey International Pop Festival the following weekend.

They had a son, David, in 1968.

By that time, Graham had shifted his focus to the opening of the Fillmore East in New York City, putting a strain on their relationship. Both began extramarital affairs before they separated in 1971. Graham died in 1991.

While her divorce from Graham became final in 1975, MacLean moved to Bucks County, Pa., in 1971, with David and artist Jacques Fabert, who would become her second husband in 1981. She worked there as a fine artist, with a focus on nudes and landscapes, until her death. Fabert died in 2013.

During her time at the Fillmore, Maclean made more than 32 posters, some of which are now worth $10,000 on the collectors’ market.

In 2015, she was commissioned to design a commemorative poster for a Hall & Oates concert marking the grand opening of the Philadelphia Fillmore, as well as an exhibit on Bill Graham at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

Maclean is survived by her son, David Graham.

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