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Photo courtesy of UNM Newsroom

UNM student brings in psychedelic art show

University of New Mexico student Lacey Chrisco joined the staff at the Albuquerque Museum to introduce the rock poster exhibition "Dreams Unreal."

This new display features about 150 psychedelic posters that advertise concerts and events, mostly from late 1960s San Francisco. It premiered at the Albuquerque Museum on Jan. 11 and will run until April 12.

"The exhibition describes the cultural and artistic influences that led to the creation of the posters and focuses on the most prominent poster artists of the time," Chrisco said.

The pieces are part of a collection donated to the museum by American filmmaker and musician James Gunn in 2015.

Chrisco is an undergraduate student pursuing a bachelor’s in both studio art and linguistics. She found a fondness for museums and art while taking an introductory art history class at UNM, eventually leading her to get a job at the Albuquerque Museum in 2018. She became an assistant curator of art last spring.

As an assistant curator, Chrisco helped prepare the curatorial and installation staff by editing the labels and helping with some of the installations, among other assignments. Chrisco also explained how every exhibition is a reminder of how much has to come together to create a great show and the importance of communication among the staff.

"I am very grateful for my job at the museum — I have learned a lot about how museums work and gotten my foot in the door in the museum world," Chrisco said.

"Dreams Unreal" is a loud throwback into the 1960s and has been particularly popular with older generations, especially those who enjoyed the concerts portrayed in the posters. Children have also shown great interest in the exhibit.

The collection includes various artists and bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, the Janis Joplin-fronted Big Brother and the Holding Company and other influencers of the 1960s.

"I enjoy that the posters were created basically as advertisements rather than fine art, but so much work went into each one," Chrisco said. "It's nice that they are getting recognition for their artistic value."

"Dreams Unreal" was curated by guest curator Titus O'Brien, an artist and writer dedicated to the art community. He also wrote the accompanying book "Dreams Unreal: The Genesis of the Psychedelic Rock Poster," which features over 200 posters from the museum's collection and was published by UNM Press. The book is available for sale at the UNM Press website.

Chrisco said working with "Dreams Unreal" among the staff of the Albuquerque Museum has influenced her life, making it fun and showing sides of the museum one doesn't get to admire as part of the general public.

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"The staff — including myself — really care about the museum and the community we are serving, so working there feels like being part of a big Albuquerque family," Chrisco said.

This is just the beginning of a new journey for Chrisco, as she will continue to assist the Albuquerque Museum for their next major exhibition "Trinity: Reflections on the Bomb." The exhibition, which opens on May 23, commemorates the 75th anniversary of the testing of the first atomic bomb in New Mexico and is being curated by guest curator Joe Traugott. It features the work of over 80 artists in response to the Trinity test and the many ways nuclear concerns continue to proliferate today.

"Dreams Unreal" will be available until April 12 at the Albuquerque Museum, where the admission is free for selected days and times.

"The poster collection is very colorful with a lot of details and often a lot of organic and figural forms," Chrisco said. "They are truly psychedelic."

Annya Loya is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @annyaloyadl

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