Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia

BAMPFA, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, is the visual arts center of the University of California, Berkeley. This exhibition is part of San Francisco’s 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love.

Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia – Through May 21, 2017

This major exhibition is the first comprehensive exploration of the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s and its impact on global art, architecture, and design. It presents an extraordinary array of works—many of which have been added for the Berkeley presentation—including experimental furniture, immersive environments, media installations, alternative magazines and books, printed ephemera, and films that convey the social, cultural, and political ferment of this transformative period, when radical experiments challenged convention, overturned traditional hierarchies, and advanced new communal ways of living and working. In the art, architecture, and design of the counterculture one can see early stirrings of the tech revolution and ecological consciousness, as well as powerful expressions of the wish for peace and social justice.

Clay Geerdes: Cockettes Go Shopping, 1972; digital print; 42 x 28 in.; courtesy David Miller, from the estate of Clay Geerdes.

The Cockettes, a flamboyant ensemble of hippies, gay, straight, and undecided, decked themselves out in gender-bending drag and tons of glitter for a series of legendary midnight musicals at the Palace Theater in North Beach.

The Cockettes were born on stage, New Year’s Eve, 1969. The collective passion was to take every fantasy, desire, idol and dream and in the most joyously flamboyant way possible, put it onto the stage.

Founded by Hibiscus (real name, George Harris, Jr.) the troupe performed outrageous parodies of show tunes (or original tunes in the same vein) and gained an underground cult following that eventually led to mainstream exposure. With titles like Gone With the Showboat to Oklahoma, Hell’s Harlots and Pearls over Shanghai, these all singing, all dancing extravaganzas featured elaborate costumes, rebellious sexuality, and exuberant chaos.

The Cockettes were soon heralded as the cutting edge of Freak Theatre appearing in Rolling Stone, Paris Match and even Playboy magazines. They attracted admiration from Diana Vreeland, John Lennon and Marlene Dietrich, among others. Truman Capote and Rex Reed attended a San Francisco performance of Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma, and Reed wrote a glowing review calling it “a landmark in the history of new, liberated theater…”

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Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics – Newseum

Some members of the general public don’t believe musicians have the right to protest. They just want them to play the music and shut up about politics. Yet any fan can protest should they so choose. Wrong double standard if you ask me.

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The protest movement rose out of song and the right to assemble. This exhibit highlights that basic human right.

Check out the Newseum Website for more particulars. Wish I could see this exhibition.

 

 

Where is our Love Song?

I received an email this morning. It contained an invitation from Congressman John Lewis via the White House. I was invited to virtually attend the opening ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture today at 10:00 am ET.

I was thankful for that invite as I got to witness the celebration of a vital 100 year project come to fruition on the National Mall.

There were wonderful speeches and presentations.

My favorite moment was Stevie Wonder’s words and the question he had for us to contemplate,  “Where is our Love Song?”

With all that’s been going on in Charlotte the symbolism of promoting unity through the opening of this museum was not lost in the music of my heart.

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SF Music Hall of Fame

There are various locales that represent important music genres in the United States. I’ve been fortunate to visit New York City (infamous for Jazz), Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee (representing the Blues).

I recently wrote about the National Blues Museum in St. Louis being another step in the music journey.

I have discovered another vital American music museum to see, the San Francisco Music Hall of Fame. SF Music Hall of Fame showcases artifacts and memorabilia from San Francisco’s rich and storied musical history, offering visitors a fun and informative look back at the sounds that shaped The City and how The City shaped the country. Rotating exhibits across two floors will offer people of all ages a glimpse into the San Francisco Sound.

The San Francisco Music Hall of Fame is in the design stage and will offer a stroll through the history of some of the most influential music of our time. In the halls of Music City you’ll revisit the San Francisco Sound, the Summer of Love, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Sly Stone, Santana, Janis Joplin, and so much more.

Classic photography, concert-played instruments, vintage posters, and an ever-changing display of memorabilia is blended with modern interpretations of the music of the Bay Area to bring you a glimpse like no other into the classic rock era.

Installed in the sidewalk in front of Music City SF at 1353 Bush Street, over 330 intricately connected, engraved bricks, embedded in the sidewalk of the Music City SF building, honors local legends, including many who may never received national recognition, for their place in the rich, diverse and creative musical and cultural movements of the San Francisco Scene.

The Music City SF Walk of Fame celebrates the personalities, places and events that make up the community heritage of The City and the SF Bay Area.  From Beat Poets to the San Francisco Sound explosion of the late 1960’s to the artists of today will be enshrined. The continuous story is told brick-to-brick, section to section of the times, places, artists and performers.

Stay tuned for grand opening dates and other exciting announcements.

(Much of the text above is courtesy of the SF Music City Hall of Fame Web site)

Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival

I have focused more of late on folk music and New York City. I met with a lack of well researched Web information, which served as a frustration. As it turns out my resource needs were recently answered. The Museum of the City of New York has curated an exceptional show, Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival. 

In the 1950s and 1960s, folk music blossomed in New York City, especially in Greenwich Village, where clubs and coffee houses showcased singers like Pete Seeger and Odetta and nurtured a generation of newcomers, including Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Dave Van Ronk, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and Peter, Paul and Mary. The multi-media exhibition Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival, features original instruments, handwritten lyrics, and video film footage. The event traces the roots of the revival, its growth in New York City, the major players, and folk’s impact on American political and social culture during the tumultuous 1960s.

There is also a companion book, Folk City written by authors Stephen Petrus (curator of the Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival exhibit)  and Ron Cohen. Their collaboration captures the exuberance of the times by introducing readers to a bevy of characters who brought a new style to one of the biggest audiences in the history of popular music. Among the savvy New York entrepreneurs committed to promoting folk music were Izzy Young of the Folklore Center, Mike Porco of Gerde’s Folk City, and John Hammond of Columbia Records. The authors portray Greenwich Village coffee houses not simply as lively venues but as incubators of a burgeoning counterculture, where artists from diverse backgrounds honed their performance techniques and challenged social conventions. Accessible and engaging, fresh and provocative, rich in anecdotes and primary sources, Folk City is lavishly illustrated with images collected for the accompanying major exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York in 2015.

Mark Mothersbaugh + Adam Lerner in NYC

I have to hand it to the Strand Bookstore. They get the best music author signings and talks.

Are you in NYC this Thursday March 19th? Then you should come join Mark Mothersbaugh and Adam Lerner as they discuss Mark’s new book, Myopia. Wes Anderson wrote the foreword.

Are We Not Men?

His first major solo exhibition, “Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia,” opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver on Oct. 30, 2014 and runs until May, 2015. It then travels to five other cities, including New York.