On the cusp of The Summer of Love’s 50th anniversary, a new exhibit revisits the era’s influence on the arts—in the capital of counterculture itself.
“This is a period that has gotten a short shrift in history,” notes Lawrence Rinder, director of the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, about “Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia.” The upcoming exhibition is a compelling look at how the counterculture has influenced art, architecture, design and contemporary life. Rinder, also chief curator, and Greg Castillo, Berkeley associate professor of architecture, have added nearly 100 pieces to the showcase, a traveling exhibition organized by the Walker Art Center with the assistance of BAMPFA. This expanded collection highlights the Bay Area’s key role in the movement through diverse pieces like ephemera and photographs from ’70s theater groups Angels of Light and the Cockettes—sexual anarchists who epitomized the Psychedelic ’60s with their raucous performances and inspired glam rock; prints of East Bay handmade homes and Emeryville Mudflats, famously known at the time for its displays of public art; and even an original Community Memory Terminal from 1973, “which might have been the first digital social network, inside a cardboard box on Telegraph Avenue,” Rinder says, gleefully. It’s particularly timely that the Bay Area turns reflective. “Today, here, counterculture has become the culture. You look at environmental standards, the fact that everyone recycles and it’s the law; advances in women’s, LGBT and civil rights—you take these things for granted, but you can draw a line directly back to counterculture,” Rinder points out. “There are certain things that maybe we’ve left behind and deserve a second look.” Feb. 8-May 21. 2155 Center St., Berkeley, 510-642‑0808; bampfa.org.
Written and edited by Elizabeth Khuri Chandler.