Backstage Pass: Baron Wolman and the Early Years of Rolling Stone

Immortalized by writers, filmmakers, and musicians from Stephen King to Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, the cover of Rolling Stone magazine has embodied generations of popular culture. For artists, the cover is a coveted career achievement, and for many readers, it represents a fantasy realm of the rock-n-roll lifestyle. In the 1960s and 70s, Rolling Stone provided a national voice to the counter-culture movement, and gave readers unprecedented access to musicians before the days of personal branding. Backstage Pass: Baron Wolman and the Early Years of Rolling Stone explores how the lens of one artist’s camera captured and helped define one of the most important eras in rock-n-roll history.

As Chief Photographer for Rolling Stone from 1967 to 1970, Baron Wolman pioneered a new genre of iconic rock photography. Backstage Pass gives viewers an opportunity to experience how the photographers and editors of Rolling Stone guided the creation of the “rock star” persona, from concert, to cover, to icon.

Contextualized in 35 framed photographs, contact sheets, and original magazine covers, Backstage Pass presents an intimate view of a crucial period of cultural transformation in American history. Audiences will go “backstage” to see how photographic coverage of events such as Woodstock and The Day on the Green have contributed to our collective cultural memory.

Feeding the heightened political and cultural climate of the time, featured artists Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Frank Zappa came to represent generational ideals through music, words, and visual imagery. Taking an unobtrusive approach with his subjects, Wolman’s techniques resulted in photographs and eventually magazine covers that capture a rawness and emotion of the artists and a generation. Together, Backstage Pass encourages our understanding of how images become iconic symbols of American history.

Backstage Pass is curated by Ben Ahlvers, gallery director at the Lawrence Arts Center in Lawrence, Kansas. He has curated exhibitions such as the CUP Invitational, Every Picture Tells a Story: The Rolling Stone Years, Bottles, Animalia, and Pop. An artist in his own right, Ahlvers has exhibited nationally and internationally in Barcelona, London, and Jingdezhen, China. His writing has been published in Ceramics Monthly, Ceramics: Art & Perception, Clay Times, and The Durango Telegraph, among others.

“Baron’s [photographs] are set apart for me because of the consistent humanity in his pictures. Whether it is in a studio portrait, a backstage document, or an on-stage performance shot, Baron’s subjects seem to embody the essence of themselves.”—Tony Lane, former Art Director of Rolling Stone.

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Tour Schedule

Backstage Pass is touring January 2015 through January 2021. The dates below reflect seven-week exhibition periods. All dates are currently booked. Please contact or (800) 473-3872 x208/209 to be added to a waiting list. Dates are subject to change.

  • January 28–May 25, 2015 Reading Public Museum
    Reading, PA
  • September 1–October 20, 2015 Arlington Museum of Art
    Arlington, TX
  • November 10, 2015–January 7, 2016 Appleton Museum of Art
    Ocala, FL
  • January 28–March 16, 2016 Sordoni Art Museum
    Wilkes-Barre, PA
  • April 6–May 25, 2016 Upcountry Museum
    Greenville, SC
  • June 16–August 11, 2016 Sioux City Public Museum
    Sioux City, IA
  • September 1–October 20, 2016 Ypsilanti District Library
    Ypsilanti, MI
  • November 10, 2016–January 7, 2017 East Hills Shopping Center
    St. Joseph, MO
  • January 28–March 18, 2017 Marietta History Museum
    Marietta, GA
  • April 6–May 25, 2017 Refurbishment
    Kansas City, MO
  • June 16–August 11, 2017 Maria V. Howard Arts Center
    Rocky Mount, NC
  • September 1–October 20, 2017 Panola College
    Carthage, TX
  • November 10, 2017–March 16, 2018 Palmer Museum of History & Art
    Palmer, AK
  • April 6–May 25, 2018 Temecula Valley Museum
    Temecula, CA
  • June 16–August 11, 2018 William F. Laman Library
    North Little Rock, AR
  • November 10, 2018–January 7, 2019 Kansas City Public Library
    Kansas City, MO
  • January 28–March 16, 2019 County of San Luis Obispo Public Library
    San Luis Obispo, CA
  • April 6–May 25, 2019 Longview Museum of Fine Arts
    Longview, TX
  • June 16–August 11, 2019 Bell County Museum
    Belton, TX
  • September 1–October 20, 2019 San Francisco Public Library
    San Francisco, CA
  • November 10, 2019–January 7, 2020 Museum of the Gulf Coast
    Port Arthur, TX
  • March 2, 2020–January 3, 2021 George Bush Presidential Library & Museum
    College Station, TX

Exhibition Details

33 photographs, 5 issues of Rolling Stone, 5 contact sheets

  • Content

    Fee Includes
    Press Kit
    Registrar’s Packet
    Programming Guide
    Gallery Guide
    Text Panels
    Narrative Labels
    Full Insurance
    Installation Instructions
    Custom-Designed and Built Crates

  • Curated By

    Ben Ahlvers, Gallery Director, Lawrence Arts Center, Lawrence, KS

  • Organized By

    ExhibitsUSA, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Kansas City, MO

  • Out-of-Region Rental Fee


  • In-Region Rental Fee


  • Duration

    7-week display

  • Shipping

    Van Line

  • Running Feet


  • Square Feet


  • Security

    Moderate B

  • Number of Crates/Total Weight

    4 crates/885 pounds

  • Insurance

    The exhibition is fully insured by ExhibitsUSA at no additional expense to you, both while installed and during transit.