Summer of Love

by Thomas Beutel

I had a nice evening with the family, first eating a delicious bowl of poke and then viewing the Summer of Love exhibition at the de Young. The displays were interesting, but it all felt somewhat strange. The energy and vibrancy of the cultural revolution barely trickle out of the posters and clothes on display, and everything has a definite taxidermy feel to it. It’s as if you have walked into a dusty Egyptian tomb, not the exuberant celebration I expected. The profusion of black and white photographs don’t help. They did have color photography back then, didn’t they?

One of the things that did pique my interest was the poster making process. There was a nice explanation of all the elements that go into doing offset printing. Another nice demo showed how artists like Bill Ham created light shows using liquid dyes and overhead projectors.

I was only six in 1967 and lived far enough away from the panhandle that I have no memory of what was happening. But I certainly have an appreciation of what the Summer of Love gave us. I know that some of the cultural freedom I experience today was born in that year, right here in San Francisco.