Half a century later, it's hard to look back on the Summer of Love as a paisley painted time where everybody got together and tried to love one another.
After Timothy Leary held his Human Be-In and got Ginsburg and Ferlinghetti to turn on, tune in and drop out with the Grateful Dead, Dick Gregory and Jefferson Airplane, the results were a bit mixed on the whole. Sure, Haight-Ashbury drew hippie kids from all over the country and spawned a counterculture, but the good vibes didn't always spread to the places they'd left behind.
As Scott McKenzie's "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" played across the country promised that "summertime will be a love-in" for anyone heading to the Bay, cities including Detroit, Newark, Milwaukee and D.C. saw years of real-estate redlining, discrimination, suburbanization and white flight end in civil unrest. As Fantasy Fair and the Montery Pop Festival drew thousands to hear Jimi Hendrix, The Byrds and Janis Joplin, those sounds also called to Charles Manson, who'd just been released from prison earlier that year despite pleading to stay. Just as the community was building and the Free Clinic and Free Store were opening, the elements that would bring them all to an end were already in play.
As the Summer of Love marks its 50th anniversary, its local legacy grows even hazier. Its home in San Francisco has traded communes and free clinics for vacation rentals that inflate neighborhood home prices, car-rental services that eat up parking and app-based middleman businesses that range from dry-cleaning delivery to dry-cleaning delivery with wooden hangers. The Summer of Love's actual sharing has been replaced with a "sharing economy" in which nothing is shared and everyone exacts their price.
Yes, the Summer of Love spurred protests against the Vietnam War -- including a march on Washington the following October -- but the war wouldn't end for another eight years. For its talk of community and inclusiveness, the Summer of Love left entire swaths of similarly disenfranchised folks out of the party. By the end of the Summer of Love, the Black Panther Party across the Bay in Oakland would be targeted by the FBI, the American Indian Movement would enter its infancy and the United Farm Workers union led by Cesar Chavez would expand.
However, its music, fashion and artwork serve as its most visible and lasting legacy. As the de Young Museum in San Francisco holds its 50th Anniversary retrospective, we took a look through the exhibits. The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll features iconic rock posters, photographs, interactive music and light shows, costumes and textiles, ephemera, and avant-garde films. A 50th anniversary celebration of the adventurous and colorful counterculture that blossomed in the years surrounding the legendary San Francisco summer of 1967, the exhibition presents more than 300 significant cultural artifacts of the time, including almost 150 objects from the Fine Arts Museums' extensive permanent holdings, supplemented by key, iconic loans.
The Summer of Love's long, strange trip wasn't nearly as long ago as it seems:
Don't just ogle the Summer of Love's artwork: Learn the story behind it. Artist Loren Rehbock, now based in Napa was a counterculture fixture perhaps more well-known for his "Peace" poster created the same year. This particular piece is an ad for the bohemian boutique that took its name from the young lover of Sappho in Greek poetry. It was not only frequented by Janis Joplin, but owner Peggy Casserta was love interest of Joplin's until the singer's death in 1970.
Back when artists Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley were part of The Family Dog collective, the group would host events at San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom and Mouse and Kelley would design the posters. While they'd also design posters for promoter Bill Graham's events, among others, their subjects often included The Grateful Dead. This particular image went on to grace Grateful Dead album covers from 1977 to 1980. They'd create album covers for Styx, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Journey, with the duo producing the latter group's trademark wings and beetles. Though Kelley died in 2008, Mouse remains active.
So, anyone under 60, whenever the older generation grouses about hip-hop using samples or Hollywood remaking movies, just remind them that artists from their beloved era were doing some serious tracing themselves. In this case, Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley used this exact page for their "Skeleton and Roses" Grateful Dead artwork. Also keep this in mind whenever someone rails against artwork falling into the public domain.
Ah, the '60s: When concert posters didn't necessarily have to be legible. Artist Patrick Lofthouse studied interdisciplinary creative arts at San Francisco State University but skewed heavily toward narrative abstraction. Inspired by Kandinsky and de Kooning, he sees the visualization of a form or message as equally important to the form or message itself. He's still producing work out on the North Fork of Eastern Long Island, but his concert posters seem almost impressionist when compared to his current sketches.
Victor Moscoso's psychedelic animated posters gave the Avalon Ballroom dance shows their trademark aesthetic, but this work with The Family Dog and other collectives made his posters icons of the era. We're particularly fold of this one, since poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti, John Wieners, David Meltzer, Phillip Whalen, Lew Welch, Michael McClure and Allen Ginsberg formed the shaky bridge between the Beatniks of the '50s and the Hippies of the '60s. Though connected through shared ideology, the clash of aesthetics is apparent when comparing this poster to those Moscoso made for the music scene at the time.
German-born graphic artist Sätty would make his name from grotesque depictions of subjects including Dracula and Edgar Allan Poe works until his death in 1982, but all of that was inspired on his somewhat dark take on psychedelia and the beat and hippie movements. His work in San Francisco, including this darkly hypnotic image of the Grateful Dead's frontman, cast a decidedly dour light on movements often depicted as awash in color.
Herb "Herbie Greene's" career is intrinsically attached to The Grateful Dead. His site teems with photos of the band at various stages in their career. Granted, he's produced portraits of Janis Joplin, Sly Stone, Carlos Santana and Grace Slick as well, his intimate photos of the Grateful Dead's members have taken on added weight after the losses of Garcia and McKernan and the illness of Lesh. Greene has since moved to the Boston suburbs and no longer photographs bands, but his work is the closest thing the Summer of Love has to a family photo album.
No, they only look like a great band. We've shown you Kelley, Mouse and Moscoso's work, but Griffin dropped acid with Ken Kesey, designed a poster for the Human Be-In, created cover art for the Grateful Dead and eventually became a born-again Christian in 1970. His work took on a more spiritual bent before he died in a motorcycle accident in 1991. Wes Wilson, meanwhile, was basically the grandaddy of the concert poster -- working for Chet Helms at the Avalon and Bill Graham at the Fillmore and basically inventing the psychedelic rock poster. He's now on a farm with his wife of 40 years in Southwest Missouri and his six children and 10 grandchildren.
Baruch has been gone 20 years, but her photos of the Haight-Ashbury, of Black Panthers in Oakland (with husband Pirkle Jones) and the Bay Area in general are still some of the most valued documents of the time. One of Ansel Adams and Minor White's first students at the California School of Fine Arts, Baruch was also one of the first to document the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (commonly known as Hare Krishna), whose group had formed only a year earlier.
Perhaps best known for her costume work on "Dances With Wolves," Birgitta Bjerke made her "100% Birgitta" name in San Francisco crocheting psychedelic bedspreads, wedding gowns (including one worn by the wife of the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir) and other creations. For those who suffered through the "granny chic," "stitch 'n' bitch" era of the early 2000s, this was a far more earnest attempt to make wearable, fashionable folk art than the subway stitching that came decades later.
DMT? We're unsure what it means, but it definitely looks dynamite. These days, Jeanne Rose is far better known for her San Francisco-based New Age Creations aromatherapy body-care company, her role as director of the Institute of Aromatic Studies and her time as a practitioner of herbal and aromatherapy studies. However, in the far reaches of her website, you'll find evidence of her time as Jeanne the Tailor: Purveyor of fine fabrics for Big Brother & The Holding Company, Charles Lloyd Band, Country Joe & the Fish, Donovan, Elvin Bishop, Everly Brothers, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Paul Butterfield Band, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Steve Miller Band and the Young Rascals. In her own words, "Some of these clothes are funny, some are hilarious and some are classic."
I'm going to break protocol here for a second and make just one statement: one of the best parts of writing this list is seeing where the folks who left their mark on the Summer of Love have ended up. It's a little easier to track down the members of the Grateful Dead and see how they're doing. But to track down Candance Kling -- who made this dress that seems as if it's right out of Goldie Hawn's closet -- and see that she's been a prolific ribbon artist for more than a quarter of a century is a delight. The ribbon flowers are lovely, but her ribbon candy samplers and "Massacre at Bridalveil Falls" installation are just inspired.
Alvin Dushkin is no museum piece. Yes, his company (and his dad's old wool mill) produced mini dresses like this one that became icons of the time. But that North Beach company also produced designers including Betsey Johnson and Cathy Hardwick. However, he's also served as a renewable energy activist and a San Francisco activist railing against high-rises in the city.
Bjerke's last Hollywood costume credit was for Adam Sandler's straight-to-Netflix film "The Ridiculous Six." It seemed worth noting, since this rather gropy dress suggests that Bjerke may share at least a little of Sandler's trademark sense of humor.
We can't emphasize the "community" aspect of the Summer of Love, as it basically took a village to make this outfit. From the collection of musician Peter Kaukonen -- who's played with and written music for Black Kangaroo, Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna and other bands and designed stage wear himself -- this ensemble features two pieces made by Sarti. She was the former wife of Kaukonen's brother, Jorma, and served as office manager and fixer for the band he founded: Jefferson Airplane. Meanwhile, Leslie Rowan not only designed that stunning velvet top, but was a model and designer who married bluegrass musician Peter Rowan -- who worked with Jerry Garcia, David Grisman and other Bay Area notables -- and raised actress and filmmaker Amanda Rowan. Every thread tells a story.
No, Rose doesn't make garments like this anymore. However, if you're wondering what she was like when she did, her PowerPoint biography still sells for $55 on her site. Our recommendation: get her autographed copy of Michael Klassen's Hippie Inc. There's more capitalism connecting the Hippie economy and the "sharing economy" than you'd think.
In 1961, Hawaii born, Helene "Helie" Robertson and her mother, Marie, founded their Anastasia's boutique on the waterfront in Sausalito before a second store was opened in the financial district of San Francisco. "I didn't want to wear shoes, I didn't want to have to work until 11am, and I wanted to take my dog to work with me," Robertson said during a panel discussion in 2010. Robertson's mother had always sewn her clothes, but their shop's location in front of the Trident rock club gave them an in with musicians. However, Robertson often went to London for ideas, which made many of here styles resemble those of the Carnaby street Mods. An L.A. manufacture liked her blend of hippie and Mod influences and took her designs nationwide, but this archetypal rock aesthetic remained inherently tied to its Bay Area home.
Perhaps the most lasting impression of fashion from this era is that it could either be bought off the rack or created with great care at home. This is an example of the the latter approach paid off, and how some of the most unique patterns and color schemes of the era weren't made to be replicated.
So, we mentioned Wes Wilson as the grandaddy of the psychedelic poster earlier, but what happens when you're a promoter and you don't see eye-to-eye with the artist? In Bill Graham's case, you watch Wilson quit and pluck the talented Bonnie MacLean out of your office to design about 30 of your posters. Graham and MacLean enjoyed their own Summer of Love when they married in 1967, but they'd divorce about four years later after having two children. MacClean now lives in Bucks County, Pa. and will paint you a large-scale version of one of her posters for $7,000.
Just for the sake of comparison, we'll leave this Wes Wilson poster right here...
We round out the works of the Family Dog collective by featuring Bob Schnepf, who gave the Summer of Love a face. Schnepf was illustrating the Berkeley Barb, the East Village Other and the San Francisco Oracle when Ron Thelin, the co-owner of the Psychedelic Shop on Haight Street), aked him to design a poster for the Summer of Love. Thelin wanted him to St. Anthony as a celestial constellation on the poster, which was incredibly well-received by the time Schnepf released it. He'd go on to make concert posters for the Avalon Ballroom, album covers, comic books, post cards and other psychedelia before going to Hawaii to live with the Krishna community there in 1970. He came back to the West Coast and remained a commercial artist, but that Summer of Love poster remains his most iconic work.
It isn't a concert poster and it isn't an ad for a boutique, but Moscoso's poster for a film by graphic designer and film title designer Pablo Ferro gets a message across on its own. Every artist needs a patron, and Ferro rose to prominence with the help of Disney animators and even Marvel Comics editor Stan Lee. His titles, quick cuts, animations and multi-image presentations have appeared in "The Thomas Crown Affair," "Dr. Strangelove," "Harold and Maude," "Bullitt, Stop Making Sense," "Men In Black" and "Good Will Hunting." Collaborators including Gus Van Zant and Hal Ashby helped Ferro put his work in 12 Oscar-winning films, but the quality of that work has made him a legend in the film industry.
You've assembled quite a career for yourself when portraits of Haight-Ashbury residents around the time of the Summer of Love constitute the least of what you've accomplished. Elaine Mayes is a powerhouse in the field of photography. Her work in the Haight, at the Monterrey Pop Festival, in Manhattan's music venues, in Hawaii, on the road with her Autolandscapes and in Long Island would be formidable on their own. But her work as a professor at the University of Minnesota, Hampshire College, (where Ken Burns was one of her students), the Pratt Institute, The International Center of Photography, Bard College and New York University was her greatest contribution to the form. She retired as chair of the photography department in the Tisch School of the Arts in 2000, but continues her photography at home in the Catskills.
The one thing a retrospective struggles to provide is context: What was the feeling in this place at the time? What was the mood? What were the people like? How did they interact? How did they synthesize the changes going on around them? Baruch's image depicts a creative, gentle place, and that's certainly part of the story.
Even at the free clinic "Are you holding?" is the question of the day. "Help for bum trippers" is available 24 hours a day, but that doesn't mean you can bring your tabs, caps, joints or anything else in when you're getting your checkup for some of the other unintended consequences of the Summer of Love.
A tapestry? Maybe? A blanket? Possibly. A bit of abstraction that doesn't need any of your labels pinned to its technicolor freewheeling wool? Definitely.
You're looking at the work of one of the mothers of tie-dye. Robbins was one of The Diggers, a group that ran a free meal program in Golden Gate park as well as the Bay Area's Free Stores. The stores ran on donations and when it received a large supply of white oxford shirts in 1967, Robbins recommended tie-dying them to make them beautiful and wearable. She'd learned the technique at Bennington College in Vermont. You know all that "upcycling" that boutiques and chains like Buffalo Exchange do now? Well, Robbins was doing that by tie-dyeing shirts and turning an old pair of Levi's into the skirt pictured here. In fact, Robbins (now Jodi Palladini again), was also way ahead of the tiny-house movement when she wrote Roll Your Own: A Complete Guide to Living in a Truck, Bus, Van or Camper back in 1974.
K. Lee Manuel was a fiber artist first and foremost. To call her a fashion designer is to undersell and underestimate the work she put into her leather and suede creations and, particularly, her painted feather collars. Her tunics shows here were painted by hand and clearly benefitted from her years at the San Francisco Art Institute. Manuel died in 2003, but her work can now be found in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It was most at home, however, in the Bay Area during the Summer of Love.
It's difficult not to link Gravenites to Janis Joplin. The two roomed together in San Francisco and Gravenites designed dresses for Joplin's performances and married Joplin's frequent collaborator, Nick Gravenites. However, Joplin's sister Laura also notes in her book "Love, Janis" that Gravenites had to revive Janis from a heroin overdose in 1967 and basically dedicated herself to keeping Janis clean. It didn't work, and Joplin died in 1970. Linda Gravenites passed away in 2002, but relics like this handbag are a reminder how bright everyone's light was burning around this time.
Stewart Brand was affiliated with Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, organized one of The Grateful Dead's first shows and appeared in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, but his greatest contribution to the counterculture and society in general was this publication. He lobbied NASA to release to release the image of the Earth on its cover to help people realize we're all in this together. Its contents, meanwhile, told people living communally where they could find books, maps, garden implements, specialized clothing, carpenters' and masons' tools, forestry gear, tents, welding equipment and personal computers and added reviews (framed as letters to friends) to each product description. It wasn't a survivalist publication, but a guide for people who wanted to learn to work the land and their homes themselves while contributing to the greater community. Granted, he wrote a manifesto in 2009 walking some of this back and declaring that urbanization, nuclear power, genetic engineering, geoengineering, and wildlife restoration could aid the fight against global warming, but the intent is still the same. The catalog still exists, and you can still access an updated version of it here.
Amazon car-dealer talk won't go away: This news continues to spread around the globe, probably sparking fear in the minds of all used-car salespeople. As TheStreet reported this week, Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) has reportedly taken early steps to become an online car dealership in Europe, according to a German trade weekly called Automobilwoche. The German newspaper cites Christoph Moeller, an industry specialist, as saying he has been placed in charge of the company's European business with carmakers. Amazon is said to be planning to run that business out of Luxembourg and is eyeing the U.K. as its possible first market.
Step aside Starbucks: Panera Bread (PNRA) continues to impress on so many fronts. On Tuesday, Panera Bread announced it has exceeded $1 billion in digital sales. TheStreet reports that the "Amazonization" of fast food continues.
Apple and cars: TheStreet dives deep into Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) car ambitions. To be sure, this is a story that is just starting to play out. Companies from Ford (F - Get Report) to Uber should be closely planning for Apple's aggression in the auto space over the next five years.
About Uber: Uber's investors continue to back the embattled ride-sharing company, according to TheStreet's sources.
Tesla investors may want to look out: TheStreet reports Tesla (TSLA - Get Report) shareholders could be at risk from a looming lockup expiration. Let's see if Elon Musk tweets back to our tweet on the matter.