One People, One Planet, HON!

Mothers of Invention

1968, concert poster, pen and ink, 12” x 18”

During the year Hieronimus spent working on his largest and most compelling mural at Johns Hopkins University, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were invited to town for a concert. Hieronimus was asked to write a press release for the Johns Hopkins Student Association and Council sponsoring the event, and to design the poster advertising it.

The original Hieronimus-written press release reveals his admiration for the classically trained and Baltimore native Zappa and his group. Apparently he was mostly attracted to the common goals they seemed to share in challenging the status quo. Hieronimus wrote: “The individual ‘Mothers’ combine classical and contemporary musical interest. Frank Zappa, [is] the head ‘Mother’ who plays lead guitar, piano, vibes and drums… This inventive group whose individual performers are excellent musicians, create 21st Century sound. Combining musicianship with a strong, earthy critique of the human situation, they explicate through analytic means and gestalt comprehension an understanding of 20th Century America and especially its youth. They prepare listeners for their destiny by providing lessons in history, psychology and metaphysics. As has no other American musical aggregation, they confront Americans with the source or derivation of their neuroses. Their prognostication of the future is threatening.”

For the poster he chose an olive green paper in harmony with the Earth Mother who is the central figure in the design, driving a chariot across a sea of fire (symbolic of transformation). Also central is the eagle pulling the chariot, upon whose wings are written the name of the group “Mothers of Invention.” The Earth Mother in this guise is depicted as a mermaid-siren. Her body is covered in tattoos of suns, pentagons, and hearts. In her left hand she is holding a wand bearing the symbol for Venus, and from her right hand she is distributing seeds. She is planting seeds of the microcosm, symbolized by the pentagons within them. The crown of the earth mother is made of two crescent moons, with the one on the left containing a six-pointed star (symbolic of the God-man), and the one on the right containing a five-pointed star (symbolic of the microcosm or humanity). Concealed within her hair on the left you find the name of the artist and a heart. On the right, her waving hair contains a strand of five hearts, a strand of flowers, and a strand containing different crosses. The top strand contains a series of symbol-archetypes from the world’s first symbolism language known as Senzar. The Senzar symbols influenced and predated Sanskrit.

The wheel of the chariot contains the glyphs of the zodiac, with the central hub symbol reserved for Cancer because of its link to motherhood and the home. From the sea of fire is rising a larger glyph for Cancer enclosing the details on the event including location and ticket prices. The date, time and sponsors are displayed within crescent moons on either side. The moons are also linked to the mother and nurturing, and the moon rules the zodiacal sign of Cancer.

Even though the Mothers of Invention are all male, Hieronimus said he emphasized the feminine symbolism for this poster because their message was about nurturing humanity through a spiritual transformation.

During the concert itself, Hieronimus assisted backstage with the light show. The Sun Magazine described the light show as being run by a group of “gremlins” with long hair and beards. They described Hieronimus in the following encounter: “At 8:20 one of the gremlin leaders, a short blond painter who wore a full beard, bell bottom pants, ruffled shirt and a large Maltese cross, materialized from the ceiling. He surveyed the colors backstage. ‘Ah,’ he nodded in approval, ‘magenta, a beautiful magenta.’”

After the concert, when Hieronimus was back hard at work on the “Apocalypse” mural, he remembers Zappa coming through to see it and exclaiming “Far Out!”