Bruce Conner and his wife, artist Jean Sandstedt, flew to San Francisco immediately after their wedding in Lincoln, Nebraska on September 1, 1957. Among the friends who greeted them on the West Coast were filmmaker Larry Jordan and poet Michael McClure. McClure, whom Conner had known since they attended high school together in Wichita, Kansas, introduced the Conners to his neighbors in the Fillmore district, including artists Jay DeFeo and Wally Hedrick.
By the time the Conners arrived, the San Francisco Renaissance in art and poetry was in full swing. It had been nearly two years since the infamous Six Gallery reading, when poets, including Philip Lamantia, McClure, and most famously Allen Ginsberg, performed their writing for a packed house. Notably, sculptures by artist Fred Martin— assembled from orange crates, muslin, and plaster—shared a stage with the poets that night. Far from occupying separate spheres, visual art and literature were closely intertwined. When Dave Haselwood, a friend of Conner’s since his Wichita days, founded the Auerhahn Press in San Francisco in 1958, Conner designed its logo of a wood grouse (Auerhahn in German). Covers of the press’s publications by poets associated with the Beat movement were designed by artists including Wallace Berman, Conner, and Robert LaVigne. In 1959, Conner and LaVigne organized a parade, described on the event’s flier as “a spectacle of Objects” accompanying “a WayOut WALK OF POETS,” as part of a benefit for Haselwood’s press.