Mouse, Summer of Love survivor, iconic in his own right

SAN RAFAEL (KTVU)— The Summer of Love is infamous for its rising stars of the emerging counterculture that burned out well before their time. 

At the Italian Street Painting Festival last weekend in San Rafael, as remarkable as the temporary chalk art was, my attention turned a to a somewhat small-statured man.

"A lot of people know my art but don't know who did it," he said. We all know there's a Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Mighty Mouse, but when it comes to the Summer of Love, there is only one mouse and his name is Stanley.

Native Californian, Stanley Mouse, who grew up in Detroit, had a father who was a Disney animator on Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs.

"From day one, I had a pencil in my hand," Mouse said.

His first fame came with his monster driven hot rods.

"Growing up in Detroit, I drew a lot of cars and I was a big fan of Mad Magazine and so I combined the hot rods with the cartoon and monsters and it was a big fad then in the early sixties," he said.

With his remarkable hieroglyphics-type signature, he became famous, air brushing his designs on thousands of sweatshirts.

But, San Francisco beckoned at just the perfect time; just a few years before The Summer of Love.
"Something drew me out here and I came out and they were doing posters and I said, ‘I can do that’ and so, I just jumped in and did all the posters for the dance halls," said Mouse.

In partnership with artist Alton Kelley, his original concert posters and paintings are among the best and most sought after pieces of sixties art.  

His art has graced everything from classic-rock albums, tour posters for Eric Clapton (and even his Rolls Royce), to fine art galleries.

"I think the reason why I got here is, I've been a compulsive drawer and I drew my way through grade school, through high school, through art school and never stopped drawing," he said.

His San Francisco headquarters was a former fire house that he got for a $100 a month. There, parties and dancing abounded and his art exploded on the international scene.

It was a lifestyle dedicated to peace and most definitely anti-Vietnam War. Then came 1967, the Summer of Love.

"What they call the Summer of Love; it was just an influx of a million people that invaded our scene. I guess a lot of good things came out of it, but it also killed the good scene," said Mouse.

People here, who came to the Street Painting Festival were amazed and delighted.

"Oh, I'm honored…I'm honored to meet him. They're legends if you collect this or if you were part of the scene and it's just an honor to see him. I love this artwork. It's very creative. It's very different. It's very sixties-ish," said Ken Gamble, a Stanley Mouse fan and collector.

Mouse is a humble man for sure and an art legend absolutely.