Bob Schnepf

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Bob Schnepf
American graphic artist
(New York, New York, 1937 - )

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Known for his designs for posters advertising San Francisco rock concerts during the late 1960s, artist Bob Schnepf has had a long career creating paintings on glass, illustrations and fine art as well as graphic art. Born in 1937, Robert William Schnepf was educated at New York City’s High School of Industrial Art, graduating in 1954. After a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy as photographer from 1954 to 1958, he entered the three-year program at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, completing the program in 1961. He worked in advertising art studios part-time during the school year and during the summer vacations. He then traveled to San Francisco to attend the San Francisco Art Institute, from which he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1963. Schnepf spent seven months touring Europe during 1964, visiting England, Holland France, Italy and Spain, before he returned to the San Francisco Bay Area to live in the Marin County community of Forest Knolls. By 1965 Schnepf was providing illustrations for underground publications like the “Berkeley Barb,” the “East Village Other” and the “San Francisco Oracle,” psychedelic postcards for shops and posters for music clubs. His Forest Knolls neighbor Ron Thelin (1937-1996, the co-owner of the Psychedelic Shop on Haight Street), who had been involved in the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park on January 14, 1967, invited Schnepf to design a poster advertising the 1967 Summer of Love. Thelin provided the concept of depicting St. Anthony as a celestial constellation on the poster, which was widely admired. Schnepf had designed postcards for rock concert promoter Chet Helms (1942-2005) of the Family Dog. The “Summer of Love” poster led to a commission from Helms for a poster for a concert in Denver, followed by six posters for concerts at San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom in 1967 and 1968, all done in a psychedelic style with distorted lettering. Later in 1968 Helms printed his posters only in black and white, which Schnepf declined to do, preferring to work in color. Instead he turned to album covers, designing four with the rock photographer Tom Gundelfinger O’Neal (b. 1942). Schnepf continued to design posters for other events, T-shirts and book jackets and created a comic book for the band Canned Heat. With John Van Hamersveld (b. 1941) he designed the poster for “An American Music Show” at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, on September 15, 1968 (Grushkin 3.71). In 1970 Schnepf went to Hawaii to live with the Krishna community there, returning to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1972. With his future wife Margaret Joyce he lived for a time in the Steep Ravine area of Marin County, moved to Petrolia in Humboldt County, California and spent several months in Mexico and Guatemala, before returning to rural Humboldt County. During the 1970s he developed a photo-realist style using an airbrush and created more book and record jackets, posters, murals and packaging. He became involved with a spiritual group, which gave him the name “Raphael,” a name he has since adopted. Schnepf then moved to Eureka, Calif. His friend and fellow poster artist Alton Kelley (1940-2008) suggested that he get acquainted with Savoy Studios, a glass studio that had been founded in Eureka by Dan Legree and Susanne Grauten in 1972. Legree helped Schnepf to learn to paint glass, leading to work for Savoy on a regular basis, a relationship that has continued today. Legree and Grauten moved Savoy Studios to Portland in 1986 and Schnepf followed. He found success in Portland. In addition to art glass work for Savoy, his design and illustration clients have included Intel, Nike, Techtronix and the Grateful Dead. One of his Family Dog posters (“Tree Frog,” FD-98), was included in the “Treasures from the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts” exhibition celebrating the re-opening of the Legion of Honor Museum in 1995. His most recent work has focused on fine art and glass painting. In addition to commercial art, Schnepf teaches workshops in airbrush and glass painting, illustration and lettering. He continues to live in the Portland area. (TNB 1/2016) Selected bibliography: Ankeny, Jason. “Artist Biography [of Bob Schnepf]” in Accessed Jan. 5, 2016. Medeiros, Walter P. From Frisco with Love: An Introduction to the Dance Concert Poster Art. San Francisco Rock Poster Art. San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1976. [FAM: NC 1807 U5 S35.] (Pulled from De Young Museum, HER 10/26/17)

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