Arnold Skolnick, the artist who designed the original Woodstock poster, and printer David Wolfe discuss plans to reprint the poster at Wolfe’s Portland studio Friday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

More than 50 years after the Woodstock festival changed the nation’s cultural landscape, the designer of the now widely circulated promotional poster is teaming up with a Portland printmaker and a Falmouth art gallery owner to reprint limited-edition versions of the poster.

Artist Arnold Skolnick was in Portland Friday meeting with printer David Wolfe and Elizabeth Moss of Elizabeth Moss Galleries to look at the poster and Wolfe’s printing equipment.

The printing process is likely to take at least three months, after which Skolnick – who lives in Massachusetts – will return for a celebratory event in Portland.

Arnold Skolnick’s Woodstock poster. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Skolnick got the Woodstock job through John Morris, the festival producer hired to obtain big-name acts, and designed the poster in three days with very few instructions. He came up with the phrase “3 days of peace & music” and, in contrast to the first poster Woodstock commissioned, by David Edward Byrd – which featured an elaborate design of a nude woman and was rejected for nudity – Skolnick relied on bright colors and paper cutouts in the style of Henri Matisse to draw attention. The vibrant red poster depicts a white catbird – a bird Skolnick had been drawing regularly on New York’s Shelter Island that summer – perched on the neck of a bright blue and green guitar, a hand wrapped around the fretboard.

Skolnick believes the poster has become iconic because “the whole festival was iconic” and because the it was effective, helping to draw a crowd of over 400,000 people to Bethel, New York, in 1969. Although much of the information about the festival spread by word of mouth, Skolnick’s design was printed nationally, including in Ramparts Magazine.

“It worked,” said Skolnick, now in his 80s, leaning over a reprinting of the poster in Wolfe’s studio in Portland. “The poster got the word out.”


Wolfe, who studies poster design and collects posters from that era, views Skolnick’s design as a “breaking point” in art trends at the time.

“I think (the design) represented where society was going and what was happening in society,” Wolfe said. “The design represents the kids of the time. … It was in reaction against the status quo.”

“This is different than the posters that were being produced at the time,” Wolfe added.

The reprinted versions of the poster will be made using silk screening and as close to the original version as possible.

“In order to make something better than just the $9.99 ones you can get on the internet, I think it’s important to make it the original size, original color, original design,” Wolfe said. “We’re going to vary slightly on the process from what they did originally because it was just completely mass produced.”

Skolnick has worked in Maine before – he published the art book “Paintings of Maine” in 1991 and collaborated with Maine art writer Carl Little on various other collections such as “The Art of Monhegan Island,” which was published in 2004. This work led him to Moss, who has exhibited Skolnick’s art many times over the years, most recently in an exhibit entitled “Spinoza’s God: Paintings by Arnold Skolnick” in 2014.

Moss then connected with Wolfe, whom she described as “the man to go to” for printing of this kind. Wolfe’s studio contains a variety of antique printing machines, used for both fine art printing and fine press books.

“The project (with Skolnick) came to me, but I get people from all over the country calling me up to do projects because there’s so few places like this anymore,” Wolfe said. “I probably can count them on one hand, how many workshops there are like this.”

There are still details about the project to be worked out, such as how many  limited-edition posters will be printed, but once the process is complete, they will be signed by Skolnick and available for purchase.

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