New York in the Summer of Love
I was only nine years old and living in New York City during San Francisco’s Summer of Love. What filtered through to me was the wildness and freedom of the 1960s. Central Park in New York during the sixties was a frequent destination for my family. Suddenly the quiet leafy paths and plazas were filled with long-haired men and women in blue jeans and colorful clothes.
Bethesda fountain was a gathering spot that rang with the sounds of bongo drums. On weekends, the park was transformed into a circus with Happenings. Bathtubs on wheels, dancing, music and laughter, crazy costumes and everything bizarre appeared in a spontaneous, joyous mix.
During visits to museums with my mother, Old Masters were replaced by Op Art and moving sculptures that were dazzling and disturbing. Posters on the bus changed from Preparation H ads and photos of mushroom clouds to gorgeous Peter Max Posters that were stolen almost as soon as they went up. Even at reliable visits to the movie houses on Broadway we saw the Beatles film, Yellow Submarine instead of Charlie Chaplin or the Marx Brothers. I was a sensitive child and all of this culture change was a bit dizzying and overwhelming to me. However, those were the times were living in so I went with it.
The Summer of Love Experience at the De Young
The visual explosion of color and sound that upset my nine-year-old self was on full display at the Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll at San Francisco’s De Young Museum (through August 20, 2017).
I’d like to say I totally enjoyed it, but the truth is that my inner nine-year-old resurfaced cringing. As a visual experience, though, the museum did an amazing job of recreating the feeling of those turbulent times. All of it brought back memories that I hadn’t thought about in a while.