- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2007

NEW YORK — Forty years after a generation of young Americans turned on, tuned in and dropped out during the Summer of Love, a New York museum is hoping to re-create the psychedelic intensity of the period.

The exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art features posters, artwork, light shows, trippy album covers and experimental film from a countercultural movement that brought together peace activists, musicians, hippies and artists.

Curator Christoph Grunen-berg says he hopes the exhibition will either provide a trip down memory lane or help re-create the 1960s for those who, for various reasons, can’t remember them.

“What we tried to do was to present a more complex and diverse history of the period — a cultural history in some ways of the psychedelic era from the mid ‘60s to the early ‘70s,” Mr. Grunenberg said before the exhibition’s May 24 opening.

“You can experience the ‘60s and what it might have been [like] taking LSD without actually having to resort to the drug,” he says.

Among the exhibits are album covers for the Grateful Dead, Santana and the Steve Miller Band, intermingled with photographs of Bob Dylan at Woodstock in 1969 and Janis Joplin onstage at Fillmore East in New York in 1968.

The psychedelically painted Porsche convertible Miss Joplin used to drive is even featured as an exhibit.

Among the artworks on display is the only known painting by rock legend Jimi Hendrix — “Flower Demon,” a watercolor on black paper of a devilish face in yellow, orange and green.

Other featured artists are Californian John McCracken, who dabbled in psychedelia before making a name as a minimalist.

“This exhibition should be a little reminder of what the psychedelic era really was,” Mr. Grunenberg says. “Our intention is to resurrect the important art and also show what an impact it had” on other artists, such as Andy Warhol.

“What I think this exhibition hopefully will do is provide intense experiences,” he says. “I think that’s a critical element of psychedelic art — the intense experiences.”

The exhibition includes several darkened rooms playing light shows of trippy psychedelic patterns and gently rising lava-lamp-style swirls to a soundtrack of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles.

The exhibition also delves into the political changes happening during the 1960s — including the anti-Vietnam War movement and sexual liber-ation.

“What the psychedelic style became was a signifier for liberation, for liberation from political authority, for sexual liberation, for political liberation and individual freedom,” Mr. Grunenberg says.

Among other articles on display are contemporary accounts from Life magazine, which in one 1966 edition describes psychedelic art, or “LSD art,” as a “new experience that bombards the senses.”

Another slightly shocked edition from the same year describes the “wild, new flashy bedlam of the discotheque,” advising prospective club-goers to wear earplugs and dark glasses.

Books from the period include everything from a case study on hippie sex communes to an expose of the “Acid Eat-ers.”

Photographs and film meanwhile feature LSD guru and writer Timothy Leary with Beat poet Allen Ginsberg and a Jefferson Airplane gig from 1966.

Other photographs show Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger and then-wife Bianca on their wedding day and guitarist Keith Richards in a California park sometime in the late 1960s, clearly putting something up his nose.

“Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era” is on display at the Whitney until mid-September.

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