San Francisco: 1967. It was the summer that forever altered American culture. The “Summer of Love.”
More than 100,000 free-thinkers, poets, radicals, post-beatniks, and (those would become known as) “hippies” gathered in the city’s progressively minded Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. Their common bond was a rejection of increased American consumerism, materialist values, a general distrust of the government, and a strong opposition to the Vietnam War. Psychedelic new age drugs like LSD and a unified dismissal of social norms fueled an unprecedented wave of countercultural and utopian creativity in the forms of art, music, and design.
Fast-forward to 2017 and the Summer of Love is now celebrating its 50th anniversary. More than 60 California organizations — civic, cultural, arts, music, and social services — are banding together to celebrate one of the most iconic cultural turning points in American history. Throughout March and April, commemorative events (many free) will be held throughout San Francisco.
The California Historical Society offers a great historical primer (both online and at their Mission Street location) on the event and its influence over the past five decades. Anyone looking to get a real-world look at how the Summer of Love shaped the city should look to The Magic Bus. The bold, hippie-inspired buses tour Union Square, Chinatown, and Haight-Ashbury with guided narration and a full video/audio production. Projection screens inside the bus depict late-’60s documentary footage of the SoL, Golden Gate Park’s Human Be-In (a critical prelude to the Summer of Love), and key moments from the Civil Rights Movement.
For a deeper dive, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive have collaborated to create Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia. The exhibition, which runs through May 21, 2017, is touted as the most comprehensive examination of the Summer of Love and the counterculture that defined it. It explores the movement’s effects on design in general and art and architecture in particular. The story is relayed through hundreds of works including interactive media displays, alt literature, experimental furniture, and documentary films.
Summer of Love: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll at the de Young Museum explores the confluence of the era’s new music explosion with the worlds of art and fashion. The GRAMMY Museum has also debuted a special, limited photography exhibition entitled Jim Marshall’s 1967. Through a series of 60 carefully selected images, it tells the story of the Summer of Love as captured through the lens of legendary photographer Jim Marshall as he documented the music spawned by the event.
Check the event calendar for a full list of upcoming events.