When I turned 16 myself, I saw Mouse's work again -- but different this time. No more "Rat Fink"; now he was drawing, yikes!, skeletons! He had moved to San Francisco and fell in with the counterculture, drawing posters for dance-concerts with his partner in art, Kelley. Most famously, he borrowed a 19th-century book illustration drawn by Edmund Sullivan and applied it to a September 1966 poster advertising a dance-concert at the Avalon Ballroom featuring the Grateful Dead. The "skeleton and roses," as the icon was named, became one of the most famous images in rock and roll history. Mouse used it again later on an album cover for the Dead. He also drew album covers for Journey, the Steve Miller Band, and other rock groups.
During this past May's Spring Release weekend, Joel and the Walla Walla Village Winery presented a gallery showing of the art of the "Rock and Roll Rembrandt." Stanley Mouse originals from Joel's collection as well as that of Jim McGuinn, who owns the Hot Poop, Walla Walla's only "Bing Bang" music and stereo store in town, graced the tasting room's walls, and it was big fun indeed to admire the fantastic images while sipping Joel's typically aromatic, not to mention delicious wines. I enjoyed visiting with Joel and his mother Barbara, too. They've given the Walla Walla wine community something unique, something that no other winery in Washington State has: a direct connection to one of the legendary artists in modern American pop history.