The Summer of Love — the hippie phenomenon centered in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood — began 50 years ago.
The golden anniversary of this countercultural turning point in 1967, which in some ways defined about half the Baby Boomer generation, is being observed coast to coast, including in Patchogue with a summerlong arts festival running through September.
Other observances are scattered around the globe but also, of course, in San Francisco, where it all began.
“We’re hoping our observance won’t be generated just by us,” says John Cino, curator of the Summer of Love Festival sponsored by the Patchogue Arts Council. “We want other people to join in spontaneously, like it happened 50 years ago.”
While most of the hippies who experienced the original Summer of Love — some of them preferred to be known as “flower children” — are now in their late 60s or early 70s, Cino remembers it from afar. “I was very moved by it though I was only 10 at the time. I had a big sister who was into all that, so it rubbed off on me.”
“All that” was peace and love — the hippie mantra — but also sex, drugs and rock and roll. Communal living contributed to the first of these as 100,000 students and dropouts descended on what became the most famous intersection in the world for a few months. People slept in parks, on the streets and a dozen or more per one-bedroom flat. The drugs — especially LSD and marijuana — were celebrated by such influential figures of the time as Timothy Leary (“Turn on, tune in, drop out.”). That summer and its prelude, the Human Be-in at Golden Gate Park, directly inspired the 1968 Broadway musical “Hair,” according to creators James Rado and Gerome Ragni. “We thought, ‘This is happening in the streets. We want to bring it to the stage,’ ” Rado recalled.
Among the anthems of that summer was Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” written by John Phillips of the The Mamas & the Papas, and the Grateful Dead became troubadours of the movement spurred in part by opposition to the Vietnam War and what many regarded as rampant consumerism.
That culturally historic summer is recalled in Patchogue through art exhibits in venues all over the village, not just in galleries, as well as in a “flower power” garden and a community mural and one-night music festival.
In keeping with another popular phrase of the time, “free love,” Patchogue’s “Summer of Love” happenings are free. Far out and right on.
ART You can catch the “Summer of Love” art exhibit through Sunday, June 25, at the Patchogue Arts Council Gallery at 20 Terry St. Around the corner, outdoors at the Patchogue Garden Club, see the sculpture installation on the same theme, running through Sept. 30.
PHOTOS The arts lobby of the Patchogue Theater showcases the work of former Peace Corps photographer Rowland Scherman, who shot the Grammy-winning cover photo for Bob Dylan’s “Greatest Hits, Vol. 1,” as well as shots of Joan Baez, Judy Collins, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, among others. Scherman’s “Sounds of the Sixties” exhibit focuses on music icons of the summer of ’67 — think the Monterey Pop Festival — while across the street at the Patchogue-Medford Library, a second show of his work, “Lens on the Later Sixties” turns to Woodstock and political portraiture, including Robert Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King, each assassinated in 1968. Both shows run through June 30. A mural initiated by John Hollingworth covers the library’s back exterior wall through Labor Day, facing Artspace Gallery, where you can check out “Surreal Abstract Expressions” through June 28, followed by a “Graffiti of War” exhibit through July 15, revisiting the Vietnam War.
FESTIVAL At the Festival di Amor, enjoy an evening of live music, dance, poetry and art amid the “Summer of Love” sculpture garden, 7-10 p.m. Aug 19.
‘THE SUMMER OF LOVE: 1967-2017’
WHEN | WHERE Free events through Sept. 30 in downtown Patchogue
INFO 631-627-8686, patchoguearts.org