Visions and the art of Nick Hyde


Cover painting: Holy Grove by Gage Taylor (1975).

Book purchase of the week was this American collection of what we have to call “hippy art” (or “California Visionary Art”, as its creators preferred) published by Pomegranate Publications in 1977. I’d seen this circa 1979 and many of the pictures inside were used by Omni Magazine to decorate the science fiction stories in their early issues. After that it vanished from view completely which leads me to believe that UK distributors Big O didn’t sell as many as they would have liked. The white cover design made me remember it for a long time as being part of the David Larkin series which I discussed in May but it isn’t, although the Larkin books were quite probably the model for the book’s presentation.

Finally acquiring a copy was something of a disappointment since it transpires I remembered the decent painters and forgot the terrible ones who comprise at least half the book. Cliff McReynolds is one of the better artists (Omni thought so too) and by coincidence I posted one of his Visions paintings, Landscape with Grenade, almost a year ago to the day.


BethAnn (1970).

Best of the bunch for me is Nick Hyde whose fantastically detailed works blend the fractal filigree of psychedelic art with the kind of dreamscapes and tableaux one sees in Surrealism. The print reproductions do little justice to his detail and the web degrades his work even further (see Abraxas for a good example). Happily there are posters available.

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65 thoughts on “Visions and the art of Nick Hyde”

  1. For years I bought every issue of Omni magazine, and used to love to read the short fiction. I remember the speculative cover art and the pics they tied in with the short fiction very fondly. Thanks for the nostaglic reminder!

  2. I was the same, Andrew, and later chopped the pictures out of many of them to decorate walls of flats. Omni seems now like quite an extraordinary endeavour yet I rather took it for granted at the time.

  3. I think we all did sadly. I kept the mags for years, but then ditched them a number of years back during a house move. I wish I hadn’t now, they would make for an interesting time capsule as well.

  4. Hi James. Visions is labelled as “volume 1” but I’ve never seen any mention of there being a volume 2. I’d guess not since the book was almost ten years too late by the time it appeared and more pictures of romping flower children was the last thing people were looking for in the materialistic Eighties.

  5. Thank you for your reply. I rather regret what happened during the 1980’s.Everyone seemed to drift back to materialism and the art reflected that.Music became more commercial and all people wanted to do was dance.I miss escapist art and escapist music but only if they are created with originality.

  6. I bought a copy of this book in 1979, and still own it. The Harvard Coop sold Pomegranate posters, too, and I had a number of pieces by Bill Martin, Gage Taylor, Joseph Parker and Cliff McReynolds adorning my aparment and rehearsal space in the early ’80s.

    Hyde’s work is amazing (see: “Estate of Man”) but a little too intense for what I was after, and not necessarily what I wanted to encounter on the way to the bathroom at 3:00 a.m. ;-)

    Other artists featured in the book are Thomas Akawie and Shiela Rose.

    I, too, kept waiting for Vol 2, but I think John’s comment above nails it. This collection would have done very well indeed circa 1970.

    Ah well. I always was a late-blooming closet hippie anyways. :-)

  7. I have a copy of the Visions calendar for 1979 & think it probably contains some of the same pictures. Some verge on what I would call Hippy Kitsch but Bill Martin, Nick Hyde & Joseph Parker I particularly like. I don’t see it as necessarily escapist, after all materialism is a way of escaping from thinking too deeply about ourselves & what our role is in this amazing universe.

  8. I liked Gage Taylor’s paintings especially “Mescaline Woods” and “The Road”. most of the rest is pretty dire. I would pay a lot for a good reproduction of “Mescaline Woods”.

  9. I have an original, Mescaline Woods, framed, in pretty much mint condition. Had it since I was 18. Ready to part with it though.

  10. Hello again. I have heard nary a peep from Elizabeth. Maybe she is on vacation, or Mescaline Woods already found that new home. I’m still here and hopeful anyhoo.

  11. Hi all,

    Mescaline Woods is safe and sound and still here. I am hesitating because my son has expressed interest in having it… Now I am undecided. It is a gorgeous poster, I had it framed for preservation a few years ago. It looks quite elegant, much more so than when it used to hang in my college dorm room! Feel free to email me at for more info and discussion if you want, we’ll see what the son thinks ;)

  12. It is amazing. When I gather all the names of the artist which are mentioned here–Bill Martin, Gage Taylor, Joseph Parker, Cliff McReynolds, Thomas Akawie, Shiela Rose, and my favorite, Nick Hyde–there is almost no one left unmentioned. I am surprised that our friend, Malcolm Lawrie, refers to some of the works in that volume as “Hippy Kitch.” In my opinion, many (if not most) of the works are practically timeless; on the grounds that surrealism is timeless. We consider it as a twentieth century phenomenon, while in reality, it has been with human for ever. What do you think created the Greek and Old Iranian/Persian deities? What do you think created the myths and the celestial entities, such as Andromeda, and such creatures as the Medusa, and the Iranian Mithra and Anahita? What do you think created the old Iranian’s children’s stories, with giants who could fly without wings (or even flapping thei arms), and who lived in the underworld? What do you think created God? It is all in human’s imagination. No, surrealism has been, and will be with us for ever. In the early eighties, however, Vision could not have made it (and it didn’t), because the post-modern was in the making–and it WAS important, as far as the history of art is concerned. Now, once again, surrealism is back; the latest? Avatar, with Roger Dean’s giant, colorful birds, and suspended/floating mountains.
    I had a copy of the book since 1981. The book was released under the title Vision I, because there was a plan for Vision II, etc. Apparently it did not make it, so the rest were not published.

  13. I went to school (SFAI ’73) with Nick and studied under Bill Martin in 1969. I used to hang with them and play GO and chess while an adoring undergrad….
    I was honored to show with them during my early the years.
    There were a number of us in the SF Visionary movement. Both Michael Bell and John Butcher archived our works….and a slide collection of the works are proudly part of the Smithsonian Archives…..

  14. I collaborated with Gage Taylor on the same canvas for 17 years until his death in Dec. 2000. We even traveled together as Ambassadors of Art for the US State Department. He (and the others in the book) are considered the 6 originators of what came to be known as “visionary art”. Now it is fairies and rainbows and angels but that is not how it began.
    Visionary art is an area of surrealism (the other two are classical and social). It was meant to be spiritual and uplifting. Remember the times…this work was pre photoshop and todays special effects.

    You had to meditate or take LSD to get to that place.
    California Visionary art followed the poster art craze (made popular by record covers) and these artists made history and changed the course of art. (This is why they were covered in Newsweek, etc.). Even at the sweat shop royalty rates Gage received from Pomegranite, he bought his first house with the money he made. When he was buried alive and a later house destroyed in 1982, every surviving copy of the posters in the Vision book were destroyed….if you have one; they are very, very rare and collectible.
    Mescaline Woods, the original, is owned by the Haggin Museum in Sacramento. It is considered pivotal and was in the book on 25 years of the art of the San Francisco Bay Area and was in an exhibit at the Oakland Museum based on that book in the late 80’s. Gage’s Work was exhibited in the Smithsonian, The Witney Museum, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Huntsville Museum, The India Triennale, exhibited in Paris, Italy, Germany, Nepal, Japan, Chile & Peru.
    His originals sold for $12,000 (small) to $55,000 while he was alive.

  15. Hello! I came across this site because I found that one of my favorite posters, a copy of a painting by Nick Hyde, 1978, has been ruined by moisture. I cannot even read the name of the painting. It was an dizzyingly enchanted painting of a green forest. It may have been called “Landscape II.” But I am guessing because I could only make out the last two letters and the “II.” Was there such a painting? Any help would greatly be appreciated!! I have looked everywhere on the web and have found very few paintings by Hyde. I have had this poster 20 years, and only put it in storage so i could travel for a year. (storage was the parents’ garage) Thank you so much for your time!!!!

  16. Hi Stephanie. I just noticed that the artist’s website has changed address so I’ve updated the link. If you browse the site here you may find the piece you’re looking for.

  17. I stumbled upon this site looking for copies of posters I had thumb-tacked to my apartment wall in Venice, Ca. way back in the day…late 70s. (I also had the book “Visions”).
    I can’t recall the name of the artist nor the title of the paintings but I remember purchasing a number of posters via UPS from Pomegranate.

    I would get stoned just looking at the paintings, with that mystical yellow-green sunset filtering through dark, somber oaks… and those strange little jellyfish-looking creatures what subsists only on sunlight floating and navigating around on the breeze…and that grubby old Hippie dude sitting on a big round glass rock, or something, meditating.
    Whoa, flashback!

    The titles “Mescaline Woods” and “The Road” by artist Gage Taylor seems to ring a…distant…bell.
    Does anyone know of a website where said paintings can be viewed or any existing posters that can be purchased for a reasonable sum?


  18. Update:
    After a Google search I discovered that Gage Taylor, although a great artist, is not the artist I had in my mind…nor on my wall.
    Does anyone have a clue who the artist may be?
    There were little sunlight-subsisting jellyfish-like creatures and stone-out hippies sitting around on globes…foo-fighters, or something.
    Throw me a bone, people!

  19. Hi. I’m in the same boat as Stephanie – my much beloved poster of Nick Hyde’s Green Landscape, aka Landscape II was damaged some time ago and I have been searching for a replacement. The artist’s web site does not provide information about any available print or poster of this piece. Any ideas or suggestions?

  20. Nick will be among a dozen artists having work in a retrospective Visionary Exhibition in San Francisco which I am curating to celeberate the life of John Butcher who helped many of us. The Opening will be on June 10th and running for 6 weeks. The Show will be at “HerChurch” on Portola for more information. Please help spread the word and ini you are in the area please join us. The opening will be at approx. 6 PM (time not firmly set as of yet)

    As for Nick’s posters has anyone contacted Pomegranate Press. the original publisher?

  21. Update on my update:
    I bought the book Visions and discovered that the poster is entitled The Encounter by Gage Taylor.
    Wish I could find another one for a reasonable price.

  22. I met Bill Martin at San Jose State in 1973, when he was a visiting painting instructor. I actually met his first wife, Sheila Rose, at that time, too, because there was an exhibit of the Art Institute Visionary painters in the student union. They both impressed me immensely. Bill and I became very close, and I visited him on Greenwich Street, and also in Woodacre, where he introduced me to Gage Taylor, who was his neighbor (before the landslide which destroyed his home and marriage.) I met his other friends, including Bob Moon, who was a great artist and died far too young. Bill used to drive to San Jose in his blue Volvo to pick me up. I watched him paint some of his early masterpieces. When he married his second wife, Shelley, we lost contact, and I stopped seeing him. I did not hear about his death until recently. I had become re-acquainted with Gage in 1998, before he met Uriel. He died not long after. @Ray, the painter you are thinking of was Cliff MacReynolds – “Landscape with Grenade”.

  23. RE: Marte
    You say you became re-aquainted with gage taylor in 1998 before he met me, Uriel Dana in 1998???? We had been married 15 years by 1998.

    RE: Sybil
    Pomegranate publishing completely changed its style and art and has not published visionary art since the 70’s.

  24. Uriel…

    I am sorry to hear of Gage’s passing. I knew him, Bill Martin and Nick in the early 1970’s when I was at SFAI. Just spoke to Nick about 2 weeks ago….
    Am curating a retrospective Visionary show in SF opening June 10 at HerChurch. If you are interesting in placing one of Gage’s pieces, please let me know and I can tell you more….

  25. Oh, I am sorry – he did not tell me he was married. He responded to my personals post, and was apparently actively dating. Sorry to be the one to tell you. It was not my intention to upset you. I met Gage through Bill Martin in 1973, when Bill and I were dating after Bill’s divorce. Bill also took me to Pomegranate Press to get my painting published, but that is another story…

  26. Thank you. He died over a decade ago so I have only the good memories without the deep loss now. In fact, I just remarried in January.
    I assume you are only curating the six originators of what came to be known as Visionary Art (Visions Book). Two generations down Jeff Bedrick became his best known male apprentice and three generations down I became Gage’s most famous female apprentice ( We will overlook the fact that he and I painted on the same canvas 17 years under the name Taylor-Dana). Visionary spawned 4 generations of visionary art and fizzled out with the perfection of special effects. (Rainbows, unicorns, fairies are not considered visionary art btw). Visionary art is an area of surrealism that is positive.
    Our small, collaborative work was priced beginning at $12,000 from the 1980’s. and topped out at about $55,000 ea by the time he died for larger pieces. The paintings I own of Gage’s are appraised at over $250,000. They are only available to museums carrying proper insurance, sorry.
    You can look for several in an upcoming movie (ust going into production) called “The Danger Club”. The characters were based on Gage and I.
    Tom Akawie btw moved to NYC in the 80’s and his work became very modern. (Drastically different). I also believe Sheila Rose moved someplace like Kentucky (?) and gave up painting for many years if not permanently. There was never a Visions II.

  27. Marte, You have your dates wrong. Gage and I filed for divorce in 1999. We continued to live and work together even after a year of being divorced. We remained best friends and there was no enmity or secrets between us. We were like “twins” that became more like brother and sister than husband and wife.
    What you don’t realize is that we were together 24 hours a day for 17 years. When we decided to date, we shared those experiences with each other because we put our friendship and work relationship first.
    You’ve implied there was something between you; if there was, he would have told you he was married and I would have heard about you. You are not the first to try and profit from a “relationship” from someone who is dead and can’t deny it. You also implied there was something between you and Bill Martin.
    They were best friends for a long time, not just neighbors. and friends don’t cross those boundaries, especially with former “interests”.

  28. Sorry to disappoint you, but men will be men. I have nothing to profit in this at all. I have letters and art from Bill that I would never put on the market. And, I was never interested in Gage romantically. It was obvious that he was very ill. I wish you all the best in your new marriage.

  29. He was only ill 3 months before he died, so again, your dates are wrong. You are portraying me as some kind of “wronged” woman and I’m telling you we did not have that kind of relationship. He talked about the women in his life and introduced me to several.
    Saying, “men will be men” just affirms you did not know the man.
    There is a huge difference between being a visionary and being “delusional”. Your 15 minutes of fame are up.

  30. Perhaps if someone very close to him was truly an empathetic, spiritual being, and not neurotically paranoid of strangers as you appear to be, they would have been perceptive enough to see that he was ill long before he was finally diagnosed.

  31. Uriel & Marte: Let’s keep things civil, shall we? Otherwise I may as well close the comments to this post seeing as things are straying from the topic. If you two would like to continue your conversation in private I can put you in touch with each other.

  32. I had this book for years, but then it was stolen by a roommates boyfriend! I have been searching for it in used book stores for some time. I guess I will try to buy it online if possible.
    The collection is incredible. Great fodder for the imagination. I especially enjoyed the works of Bill Martin and Cliff McReynolds. Thanks for posting this information! ~Jon

  33. I’m happy to say that I still have my copy of Visions that I got from Bill Martin when he lived in Woodacre. I was teaching myself to paint and Bill shared some of his magic tricks with oils with me. I met Nick Hyde in the 1980s and became friends. I consider Nick to be among the finest painters of our time along with Bill. I never met Gage Taylor but admired his work greatly as well.
    Thank you for posting this, made me pull the book off the shelf and look at it again… one of my few treasures.

  34. Make a note on your calendars:
    Friday June 10th from 6:30-10PM there will be an opening/retrospective featuring many of the original SF Visionaries, including Nick Hyde, Josie Grant, Guy Caldwell, Adam Lewis etc etc…
    The exhibition will run for 6 weeks at HerChurch, 647 Portola, SF CA
    “Celebration of Life” will be honoring the curatorial work of Fr. John Butcher (St. Peter’s Church, SF, in the 1980’s)
    Hope to see you there!!!

  35. Hello,

    I bought this book, “Visions 1”, but it got lost….;-(((
    Does anyone know where it could still be purchased…???
    Many Thanks in advance…..

  36. Waouhhhhh, Thanks a lot…I’m not very good at surfing…;-)))
    it was a great help, I’ve already ordered the book, and I hadn’t expected such a low price.
    It’ll take a month though, as I’m in France maybe…I’m so glad, you can’t imagine…….Thanks again…..

  37. I need to buy visions book, where I can find?

    help me please, is a rellay important book for my father…


  38. Manuel,
    I’ve just ordered the book from this link and for only 9,66€ + 10 € shipping , it is serious, it’s already been shipped, there’s only 8 copies left, be quick…..;-)))

  39. Uriel,
    I stumbled onto this conversation and was surprised to read that you think Visionary art posters are collectables. May I ask why you say that?

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