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Stanley Mouse

Born Stanley George Miller on October 10th 1940 in Fresno, CA. Later moved to Detroit, Michigan where he was given the nickname "Mouse" as a ninth grader. He was expelled from Mackenzie High School in 1956 for mischievously repainting the facade at "The Box", a popular restaurant across the street from Mackenzie. Following his junior year at nearby Cooley High School, Stanley Miller completed his formal education at Detroit's Society of Arts and Crafts.

In high school, Mouse had become fascinated by the "Weirdo" Hot Rod art movement that had begun in California a decade earlier. Having developed considerable skills with an airbrush. he began painting t-shirts at custom car shows. There he met and worked with Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, with whom he maintained a rivalry, due to Roth's appropriation of his infamous "Rat Fink" character from one of Mouse's earlier designs. In 1959, Mouse and his family founded Mouse Studios, a mail-order company that sold his products, ranging from airbrushed t-shirts to "hillbilly crash helmets". In 1964, he was invited to help in the design of automobile model kits by Monogram using the "monster" cartoon characters he had developed to compete with Roth's "Rat Fink" character.

In early 1966, Mouse (with his girlfriend and his dog) moved to San Francisco. Settling initially in Oakland, Mouse met Maine-born ex-helicopter mechanic Alton Kelley. Kelley, a self-taught artist, had recently arrived from Virginia City, Nevada, where he had participated in the proto-psychedelic/wild west experiment known as the Red Dog Saloon. Upon arrival in San Francisco, Kelley and other veterans of the Red Dog renamed themselves The Family Dog, and began producing rock music dances. In 1966, when Chet Helms assumed leadership of the group and began promoting the dances at the Avalon Ballroom, Mouse and Kelley teamed up to produce posters for the events. Later the pair also produced posters for promoter Bill Graham and for numerous other concerts and events in the community.

The posters Mouse and Kelley produced were heavily influenced by Art Nouveau graphics, (particularly the work of Alfons Mucha) along with popular hippie references, such as Zig-Zag rolling papers. Producing posters advertising for acts like Big Brother and the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and the Grateful Dead eventually led to the establishment of several long-lasting associations and relationships (particularly with the Dead).

In 1968, Helms and Graham began turning to other artists for their poster work, and Mouse's career briefly languished. After short periods in London, Boston, Massachusetts and Canada, Mouse returned to California to live (near Kelley) in Marin County. The pair resumed their partnership in 1971, running a t-shirt company (Monster) as well as producing album artwork for the Grateful Dead, Steve Miller Band and the Bay Area rock band Journey. Early in the 1980's, Mouse moved to New Mexico where he began producing fine art in a variety of media, as well as continuing work for the Grateful Dead and others. In 1993, Mouse received a liver transplant (for which the Grateful Dead helped raised money to pay for), after which he fully recoved and resumed painting and drawing. He currently lives in Sonoma, CA, where he continues to work on numerous projects while raising a family.

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