In 1967, San Francisco became the heart and soul of the transformational counterculture movement during a brief period dubbed "The Summer of Love."
Music, thought, fashion, art, and politics found a new forms of expression in reaction against the war in Vietnam and the pre-existing cultural norms—aka, "The Establishment"—all coming to a head in a glorious, raucous, drug-addled season. In tribute to its 50th Anniversary, SF is looking back on that trippy time with exhibits, events, and celebrations running through the end of the summer.
Here's a round-up of the best ways to tune in to what's happening.
The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll
Head to the de Young for its blow-out retrospective showcasing more than 300 pieces highlighting the convergence of political activism and art from the period. Look for handmade textiles and clothing by Birgitta Bierke (aka "100% Birgitta"), a a crochet artist progenitor of the style that would come to be known as "Funk and Flash"); groovy hand-lettered posters by Fresno native Stanley Mouse and his sometimes collaborator, Alton Kelley—together they created the iconic skeleton-and-roses motif forever associated with the Grateful Dead; and interactive light shows where you trip out without actually dropping acid.
// Through August 20, $25 for adult non-members; de Young Museum (Golden Gate Park), deyoung.famsf.org
Jim Marshall's 1967
The late photographer Jim Marshall was in the thick of it in 1967, shooting scenes and snapping pics of people and bands—Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, Santana—and 80 of his images from that year are on display at City Hall. It's not just the famous people that catch your eye, it's the clean-cut establishment types glaring bewilderingly at a hippie chick as she passes along Upper Haight, succinctly capturing the rapid transition that was taking place in the neighborhood that had become Ground Zero for the Free Love, hell, Free Anything movement.
// Through June 23 (free); City Hall (Civic Center), sfartscommission.org
Summer of Love or Vietnam Summer?
The California Historical Society (CHS) is hosting a series of free public talks on Wednesdays throughout 2017, including this panel discussion provided as an "antidote" to the narrow view that the Summer of Love was only a celebration of freedom and inclusiveness. Authors Calvin Welch and Mat Callahan join local Haight Ashbury tour guide Pam Brennan to talk about the growing anti-war movement that served as the dark flip side of the hippie coin. Rounding out the group is Judy Goldhaft, one of the original Diggers, an anti-capitalist anarchist theater troupe that included Peter Coyote and Peter Berg as members.
// 7:30pm, May 31 (free); Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics, 518 Valencia St. (Mission), summerof.love
Psychedelic Soul: Black Cultural Awakening During the Summer of Love
Grab a seat for this series of three discussions examining African-American experiences spanning music, civil rights and racial equality, hosted by the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD). The encounters are divided into three topics: Awakenings (June 8; $10 at CHS), Aspirations (July 13; $10 at CHS), and Outcomes (August 10; $25 at MoAD). Speakers include R.G. Davis, founder of the SF Mime Troupe, a precursor to The Diggers; Archbishop F.W. King, cofounder of the St. John Coltrane Church; and William Calhoun, founder of the Black Panther's official "revolutionary party band" The Lumpen. The final event is followed by a dance party at Moad. Groovy!// Various dates 6:308:30pm, free for MoAD members; CHS, 678 Mission St; MoAd, 658 Mission St (SoMa), moadsf.org
Monterey International Pop Festival 50th Anniversary
Before there was Woodstock, there was Monterey Pop, the granddaddy of large-scale music festivals. Nearly 9,000 people crammed into the Monterey County Fairgrounds to take in the first major appearances of Janis Joplin, The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Jimi burned his guitar; Jim Marshall was there to capture the iconic moment), and Otis Redding. Other performers included The Who, The Grateful Dead, and Father John Misty—returning this year for the golden anniversary.
// June 16-18, 2017, ticket prices vary; Monterey County Fairgrounds (Monterey), montereyinternationalpopfestival.com
Children of the Summer of Love
Authors Alysia Abbott, Clane Hayward, and Joshua Safran—all children during the '60s and '70s in NorCal—have each released recent memoirs about their boundary-free childhoods, exposing the consequences of being raised by parents who threw all conventions to the wind. Hayward's book, The Hypocrisy of Disco, inspired the movie (Lane 1974) released this March at SXSW.
// 6:30pm, June 20 ($10); California Historical Society, 678 Mission St (SoMa), summerof.love
Conservatory of Flowers Light Show
Illuminate, the art nonprofit behind the wildly popular Bay Bridge Lights project, announced their latest endeavor this week—bathing the all-white, all-Victorian Conservatory of Flowers in a series of trippy-dippy projections of psychedelic colored flowers. In collaboration with the rad makers at Obscura Digital, nightly transformations will kick-off on the Summer Solstice and run through the fall, connecting the traditional flora inside the building with the spirit of the children of love who wore flowers in their hair.
// Sundown to midnight, June 21–October 21 (free); Conservatory of Flowers (Golden Gate Park), conservatoryofflowers.org