In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, the California Historical Society looks back at the cultural movements and events that led up to this transformative moment in California history with a new exhibition that opens May 12th.
On The Road to the Summer of Love explores the cultural context — from the Beat poets to the experimental art scene — that made San Francisco a magnet for hippies and the center of a social revolution that rippled across the country.
Guest curators Dennis McNally, biographer and former publicist of the Grateful Dead, and Alisa Leslie a counterculture historian, bring together rarely seen photographs by more than twenty photographers, including Gene Anthony, Jerry Burchard, Herb Greene, Lisa Law, and Elaine Mayes.
Photographs and ephemera from California Historical Society collections are featured alongside materials from private and institutional lenders to help tell the story of how the Summer of Love came to be.
“This exhibition takes you through the origins of this revolutionary maelstrom of change and genuinely new consciousness, which we call the Summer of Love,” says McNally. “It was real, and this is the story of its origins.”
Visitors to the exhibition are taken down an amazing road, beginning in the late 1950s with the Beatniks in North Beach and ending in late 1967 with the Diggers' Death of the Hippie ceremony. The exhibition explores iconic moments—such as Jack Weinberg in a police car at UC Berkeley at the birth of the Free Speech Movement—as well as less well-known, but none-the-less formative, events.
Listening stations with audio clips provide a unique way to be a part of these moments in history. They include a reading of the famed poem “Howl” by Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1959; poems from all of the poets at the famed Six Gallery reading that introduced “Howl,”; Mario Savio’s legendary speech at the Free Speech Movement sit-in at UC Berkeley in December 1964; and the Grateful Dead on stage at the 1967 Human Be-In. Musician Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane and actor Peter Coyote, once a member of the artist-anarchist collective The Diggers, reflect on the era as well.
“From the Beat movement to protests, arts, music, and fashion, On the Road to the Summer of Love captures the heart and soul of a generation,” notes Dr. Anthea Hartig, Executive Director and CEO of the California Historical Society. “This exhibition and weekend of events help kick off what will be a summer of celebration and reflection that transcends to many of the issues we face today, fifty years later.”
Weekend Filled with Summer of Love Celebrations and Events:
Saturday, May 13, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the song “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” which became the anthem of the Summer of Love in 1967 and continues to invite the world to come and meet “some gentle people with flowers in their hair.”
The song and what it stands for will be celebrated throughout the city of San Francisco and as far away as Australia as Flowers In Your Hair Day. Events include a SF Travel extravaganza at San Francisco International Airport handing out flowers to arriving passengers, radio stations playing the iconic song at noon and businesses/cultural organizations handing out flowers.
The day culminates with a conversation with legendary music producer, Lou Adler, who produced the famous song, sung by Scott McKenzie, in part as a promotion for the Monterey Pop International Festival (Monterey Pop) in 1967 and is helping lead the 50th Anniversary celebration of Monterey Pop this June. Adler will be speaking in a program produced by the California Historical Society and the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE. The conversation will be moderated by GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Scott Goldman.
Earlier that day, the California Historical Society will host a groovy day of music and crafts from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., where families can make paper flowers and crowns and help to create a psychedelic mural inspired by the art and spirit of the 1960s, dress up in the hip styles of the Sixties and take photos in the way back machine photo booth. The event is free for families and anyone who has a...flower in their hair.
Questions about this event? Please contact the event organizer. For questions about submitting an event, email Hoodline.