Fashion

The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock and Roll

Apr 08, 2017 - Aug 20, 2017de Young Museum, San Francisco

Before megabuck music festival behemoths like Outside Lands and Coachella, there were concerts without wristbands in Golden Gate Park, home of the delightful de Young Museum and they were FREE! Come this Saturday for a Jefferson Airplane cover band and experience the Summer of Love: all the photos, music, hundreds of posters, light shows and flowing fashion that burst into full blossom in 1967. And if you take for granted not having to wear an asphyxiating tie or pair of pantyhose to work everyday, thank those flower folks.

All images courtesy the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll will be an exhilarating exhibition of 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 will present 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.

In the mid-1960s, artists, activists, writers, and musicians converged on Haight-Ashbury with hopes of creating a new social paradigm. By 1967, the neighborhood would attract as many as 100,000 young people from all over the nation. The neighborhood became ground zero for their activities, and nearby Golden Gate Park their playground.

The period is marked by groundbreaking developments in art, fashion, music, and politics. Local bands such as Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead were the progenitors of what would become known as the “San Francisco Sound,” music that found its visual counterpart in creative industries that sprang up throughout the region. Rock-poster artists such as Rick Griffin, Alton Kelley, Victor Moscoso, Stanley Mouse, and Wes Wilson generated an exciting array of distinctive works featuring distorted hand-lettering and vibrating colors, while wildly creative light shows, such as those by Bill Ham and Ben Van Meter, served as expressions of the new psychedelic impulse.

Distinctive codes of dress also set members of the Bay Area counterculture apart from mainstream America. Local designers began to create fantastic looks using a range of techniques and materials, including leatherwork, hand-painting, knitting and crotchet, embroidery, repurposed denim, and tie-dye. These innovators included Birgitta Bjerke, aka 100% Birgitta; Mickey McGowan, aka the Apple Cobbler; Burray Olson; and Jeanne Rose.

The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll commemorates an “only in San Francisco” social and aesthetic movement, and will remind museum visitors that in a time of international upheaval, the city played a vital role in changing society and amplifying the pulse of the nation.