There’s been a nice symmetry at the Walker in the past year, with the juxtaposition of last summer’s “International Pop” exhibit and the soon to close “Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia.” Both shows have made a compelling case for the ways in which their milieus were formative and influential—so much so that our culture has seamlessly absorbed many of their aesthetics and modes of thought (all the while operating as though their influence has long passed).
It’s worth remembering that much of the dual-edged, quaint-slash-dangerous imagery of the hippie era—the mandalas, Eastern influence, and interstellar psychedelia—was part of a generation’s attempt to break molds and dip a toe into the ocean of universal spirit. They had all the self-importance of youth, and the idea was to find new ways of being, new levels of authenticity, all the while entertaining the hubris that they could keep history from repeating itself.
Well, the snake ate its tail instead, as it always does. The cycles of war, cynicism, and disillusionment had their way with the 1970s, which seemed like an endless series of bummers. By the 1990s, even the Grateful Dead were saying that their crowds had become unrecognizable and nihilistic, the binge drinkers and clueless party hounds elbowing aside the utopian dreamers blissed out to one of Jerry Garcia’s instrumental tangents (to be fair, Jerry himself was in the grips of a hard drug habit, one more metaphor for the hard comedown after the hippie era). By the time Bob Dylan did an underwear commercial, many declared the dream to be truly over.
But not so fast. The awareness of climate change, the casual understanding of the link between mind and body, the quiet revolution that has led to the legalization of gay marriage: These are the sorts of developments that sprang from the wide-open mind that was dead serious beneath the granny dresses and the headbands. Spend any time with teens today and absorb their worldview to understand how much things have changed for the better—their casual acceptance of diversity, their intuitive shedding of old prejudices.
So celebrate throughout the Walker’s space with the “Winter of Love,” an all-day Valentine with films, live acts, light shows, a planetarium projection, and sessions of group meditation. It runs until two in the morning, hopefully leaving attendees feeling appropriately groovy.
Winter of Love
Walker Art Center