Late 1960's to Early 1970's

Theatrical Daze & Nights 1a -- Long Haired Art Student under a Hard Hat
Art Department Daze

The Art Department occupied old barracks buildings on the southeast end of the campus when I first went to college.

I've always been fond of libraries, and enjoyed studying in the
U of U's then-new Marriott Library.
After my second Jefferson Airplane concert, I applied my energies to the first year of college, which was NO FUN — I only took a few art classes the entire year, working mostly on my General Education requirements. Dion’s lament, Abraham, Martin, and John, filled the airwaves. Like many in my peer group, I supported the Anti-war Movement too (see below). I guess I should mention Nixon’s election also, but that’s almost too depressing. The next important concert I went to was Joni Mitchell, soon after the new year — she wasn’t famous at the time, although she’d written a couple of hit songs -- me and my friends were eyewitnesses to history that night!
She and her circle of musical associates would become VERY influential after the Woodstock Festival at the end of Summer 1969.

Viet Nam, April Committee, S.D.S. and The Draft

The war in Southeast Asia had gotten intense under JFK's administration. The US stood by while its allies Ngo Dihn Diem and Ngo Dihn Nu were deposed and murdered about a month before Kennedy's assassination. Network TV showed us stupid and tragic films from the front lines regularly, but they were explicitly PRO-war. Under LBJ, everything "escalated."

Poster by Dennis Phillips
Since we grew up with a universal male draft in the USA, it was only a matter of time before the government would give me, my brother, and our friends free passage to do either guard duty along the Rhine, or full-scale slaughter along the Mekong River, unless we banded together to oppose the insane pointless carnage of the Viet Nam War, and defend our human and civil rights.
I helped organize several events, the most successful one featuring keynote speaker Congressman Lawrence Burton in Liberty Park in early October 1968, as part of a National 'Protest the War' Day.
There were also a number of meetings with activists in April Committee, who had a proud track-record of principled resistance against the Draft.
We later formed a local chapter of Students for a Democratic Society.
Among my tasks, I was happy to pick up printed materials and haul them around to local offices -- even drove to BYU one evening after a call for volunteers at the Phillips Gallery, with some of the Art Deptartment faculty in attendance. (Note the gratuitous semi-nude image at the left.)
I kept informally advising other youth about their options, and supported the organizations that had possibly saved my life, but the damned war kept grinding on, even after Nixon's resignation, half a decade later.
The Pentagon Papers and the POW-MIA campaign did much to change the majority's opinions against the conflict, but it still continued until 1975.

After several scholastic quarters of anti-war activities, my draft card changed from 2-S to 4-F.

While I was active, we organized one concert at the Terrace starring Holden Caulfield, but I had nothing to do with THIS show in 1969, except as a member of the audience. (Poster by Art Dept. grad student Richard Taylor)

Nixon's invasion of Cambodia, and the deaths of innocent students at Ole Miss and Ohio State during nationwide protests marked a serous change in the politics of the USA. The University of Utah had its OWN student strike, and I was on campus, but did not attend classes -- however I watched the Gothic soap-opera Dark Shadows in the Union Building, as I normally did, only I didn't have my Art History book open as was normally the case. Other than that, things were as serious as a heart attack as Spring turned into Summer in 1970.

The OLD Art Department

After a quarter spent out in the weather at work, I was ready to complete my so-called Foundation Year in the Art Department. The old barracks in the elms fostered an atmosphere of experimentation consistent with those times. I met Concept Artist Paul McCarthy plus his friends Michael Cram and Al Payne, joining a broad coalition of artists and musicians sometimes called the "Up River Skool," which put on a series of "Gigs" around the city, somewhat following the example of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. These associations caused me to journey back and forth to Los Angeles over the next few years and meet other interesting people. (to be continued ...)

The NEW Art Department

The Art and Architecture Departments moved into a newly-constructed building during 1969-1970. It was closer to the library, where I had been getting much of my education. One of the first times I entered the Art and Architecture building from the east side, B.B. King's mighty guitar was wailing -- The Thrill Has Gone reverberated throughout the three-story atrium via FM Radio.
I met and bonded with a whole new group of students who attended classes there on a trip to psychedelic Canyonlands National Park in Southern Utah -- We spent the bulk of the next four years taking a variety of formal classes with one another. Although the layout of the new building drained off some of the fertile sea of creativity that characterized the old department, we still threw some dynamite parties -- especially at the annual Art Department Picnic.

Ariel view of the University of Utah circa 1970, looking eastward. The Circle is in the lower middle. The Union Building is nearly dead-center, and the Art Department is off to the middle right, near the 13-story Psychology Building.

What can I say about the seemingly endless revolving sequence of Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, and Art History courses? Life Drawing, with nude models, was always a good time. Several students shared a studio with me next to that particular classroom, and I brought a stereo and records there. Thanks to the Cosmic Aeroplane, we always had something new and different to play. We especially liked the Incredible String Band, T-Rex, Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper (before and after they became famous), Pink Floyd, the Soft Machine, and other kinds of music that we didn't hear on the omnipresent FM Radio.

(L to R) Composition of one of my early Intaglio prints; One of my pages from Aardvark Papers Number One.

We took initiative outside of class too -- some of us contributed to a locally-produced tabloid called Aardvark Papers, which was printed by my friends Jim Neilson and David Faggioli. Through them, I met Parley and Robert Holman, who created graphic art and comics independently, as did Neil Passey and Larry Farrington. We all found common ground as collectors of variously arcane forms of artwork, and knew rare book dealer Ken Sanders at the start of his career. We also got into Cinema through on-campus screenings of European and Underground films, and even shot our own 16mm films at times.

The Student Union presented a couple of spectacularly insane movies among their many gems. Roman Polanski's Fearless Vampire Killers came back after public distress had subsided over Sharon Tate's murder by the Manson Family. James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein was a legend, but for some reason hadn't been on television very much -- it was extremely well-recieved by a crowd who saw the humor behind the melodrama and horror.
(The monster's line: Smoke GOOD! was heard around the campus for a long time afterward.)
In Downtown Salt Lake, the tiny Blue Mouse Theater started showing Classic Cinema from what had been a screening room for 20th Century Fox's and Paramount Pictures' distributors -- movies by the Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields alternated with Art Films by Bergman and Truffaut. It was always easy to get a date for the Blue Mouse!
My friend Al Payne came back to the University of Utah as a graduate student, and I was glad to steep myself in his unconventional art projects again -- for credit, no less! He sponsored a video workshop by Paul McCarthy, where I was introduced to the Sony Porta-Pak, the first portable video system available to the public at large. At the time, I was also taking a class in Television Production with an eye on escaping from the grind of work and school via a career suitable to my far-flung talents. The Porta-Pak looked like it might provide me with the key to a much-needed change in my life, but all that took another year ...

Read about Video, Dance, and the Mime Troupe

Read more about my studios and The 9th & 9th

1974 marked the end of one era at the University of Utah.

The Tolkien-esque Two Towers
of Salt Lake Valley
The Cosmic Aeroplane
and Alternative Culture
Art Department Daze
and The NEW Art Deptartment
Art, Illustration, Literature,
S-F & Fantasy, Comics, and Fandom
Psychelelic Posters
and Underground Comix

Prequel Page Theatrical Daze and Nights Main Page Great Mime Troupe Saga

Photos and images from personal memorabila, Charley Hafen, and Steve Jones -- published material used for educational purposes in the context of these essays, and covered by Fair Use provisions of International Law. All Rights Reserved Michael R. Evans 2012  Email Me