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(Prison Poster 1)

Dorothy Garrett Coliseum,
Big Spring, Texas
March 14, 1987
12" x 18" (30.48cm x 45.72cm)

This is one of the rarest pieces in my collection. Done in oil crayon on coquille paper to imbue it with a period feel, I tried to make the entire poster appear as though it had been printed in the late 19th Century. Because of the name of the park, its location and the sheer visual weight of his image, I chose Quanah Parker to share the space with Willie. Quanah was the son of Cynthia Ann Parker, a white girl captured by the Comanches and Peta Nocona, a chief of the Quohada Comanche ? half-white and half-Comanche, he was the last free chief of the Comanche nation. His powerful visage works quite well with Willies countenance, especially as they share a love of pig-tales.

This is an extremely rare poster. It is one of two bills that I did for Clifford Antone personally. This one is promoting a benefit performance by Willie Nelson and the other doing the same for the The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble – together they are known in collecting circles as “the prison posters” When I found this out, it was thought that there was only one prison poster, that of SRV and the Thunderbirds. Actually, that one precedes this one by a month.

In 1987 Clifford was winding up his first federal marijuana sentence at a minimum-security facility near Big Spring, Texas. As part of his community service he arranged for these benefit performances to raise funds for the preservation of the Comanche Trail Park Amphitheater - an excellent 6500-seat outdoor arena built by the National Recovery Administration (NRA) as a New Deal project in the 1930s. As this was a performance venue, it was the perfect type of project for Clifford. He called Tim O’Connor, who was managing Willie and The Austin Opry House at the time, asked for Willie’s assistance and he readily agreed. And so it was in this way that my two biggest poster clients, Antone’s and Willie Nelson were able to be brought together and incarnated in this one poster.

The concert itself, which was held in a much larger indoor arena, was a sell-out. A native-son of Texas, Willie was extremely well received and Big Spring got to hear Willie without going to Amarillo or Lubbock to do so. The amphitheater was repaired and enhanced from the funds raised from these performers. And it, in turn, provides for the art of other performers to come.

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