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Drawing Lessons from the Summer of Love

Marking the Emergence of American Counterculture

Solstice Lovers, photograph by Douglas Magnus, Palace of the Governors Photo Archives HP.2011.28.53.

Like at 1960s flashback, 2017 has already seen a massive march on Washington, widespread demonstrations, vocal government opposition, civic protests, and a deeply divided population. In a timely collaboration, Santa Fe celebrates a half-century since the fabled Summer of Love, another pivotal era of protest, social upheaval, and consciousness-raising that marked the emergence of American counterculture.

New Mexico’s cultural institutions serve as keepers of this region’s past — both profane and sacred, inspired by beauty and light, and bloody, brutal struggles between competing cultures for dominance. From the era of the dinosaurs, through the struggle and conquest of the many flags flown over the Palace of the Governors in the nation’s oldest capital city, to voyages to outer space, the collective stories of New Mexico weave a vivid, immense tapestry.

The thread of art runs broad and deep in every direction of New Mexico’s tapestry, from the crafts of the indigenous artisans to the lure of the landscape that gave birth to artists’ colonies. This summer, Santa Fe’s New Mexico Museum of Art is one of only two venues in the United States to host Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to Now: From the British Museum. This prestigious exhibition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the drawings of the masters through five centuries. Other Santa Fe cultural institutions provide texture and context to this exhibition in the Art of the Draw collaboration.

“For the times they are a’changin’” — Bob Dylan

Many founders of the counterculture movement flocked to New Mexico, creating communal living experiments. They sought enlightenment through peyote rituals, and explored the spirituality of the multicultural heritage in the mountainous desert beauty. Peace signs proliferated, and the iconic symbol has remained ubiquitous for decades. While peace and love were the messages of this new breed of “hippies,” this organic uprising was neither peaceful nor entirely loving. Many locals took exception with these new, unconventional ways, and lashed out against them, keeping the cauldron of social revolution simmering.

“Fifty years after the Summer of Love, the youth of today’s world are facing similar issues of racial prejudice, global violence, and environmental challenges. Blogs and websites explore tiny-house living and homesteading. It seems we are once again seeking a more wholesome approach to living and an awareness of something greater than ourselves.” — Meredith Davidson, from the preface to Voices of the Counterculture in the Southwest

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales proclaimed Memorial Day through Labor Day 2017, Be Here Now — Summer of Love Santa Fe! The collaboration will be celebrated on Santa Fe Plaza Saturday, July 9.

War was a constant backdrop of the 1960s. Get a feel for the true scale and drama of a carrier and fleet naval operation engaged in a giant war simulation. Experience the world’s largest warship at Aircraft Carrier: Guardians of the Sea at the New Horizons Dome Theater and Planetarium at the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo.

Levity is needed in times of social upheaval. So, this summer’s offering from the National Hispanic Cultural Center seem appropriate to the times: The Piñatas Exhibit (Sure to be a Smash Hit!). This fun exhibition explores the social and historical importance of these intricately crafted art forms.

Unleashing revolutionary rhythms, the 1960s liberated and inspired generations of musicians. This summer, experience the natural music and rhythms of the animal kingdom at Wild Music: Sounds & Songs of Life at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque. Learn what makes music through the songs of nature from bullfrogs, songbirds, and people.

While some may consider the decade’s music as the most enduring element, 1960s counterculture catalyzed global momentum toward civil rights, the women’s movement, alternative medicines such as homeopathy, acupuncture, holistic practices, respect for the earth, organic gardening, and a more nutritionally wholesome lifestyle.

Few things are as wholesome as an ice cream sundae. The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces celebrates a rural, wholesome lifestyle. From noon until 4pm on July 16 head to the Museum to enjoy Ice Cream Sunday. Recently called ‘a national model,’ the Museum’s livestock program features seven different breeds of beef cattle — as well as dairy cows, horses, sheep, goats, and donkeys. A day at this museum brings New Mexico’s rich farming and ranching history into focus.

The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian’s Bridles and Bits: Treasures from the Southwest exhibition features early pieces of Navajo, Moorish, and Mexican blacksmithing and silversmithing prototypes. You can also trace the history of using glass beads as a medium of exchange at the Wheelwright’s Beads: A Universe of Meaning.

There is no excuse for any member of the family to be bored this summer. For kids in the Albuquerque area there are a variety of week-long themed summer camp options being offered by the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, and Explora. Adults can enhance their artistic skills and socialize at one of the public programs at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Art, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, or Explora’s adult night. Take the whole family to one of Bernalillo County’s summer Movies in the Park. Enjoy one of the many concerts sponsored by the National Hispanic Cultural Center throughout the summer. Take in a summer performance of Shakespeare or just a sunset after hours in the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.

Throughout the summer there are many recreational options offered at New Mexico’s diverse and unique State Parks. Check out the events calendar for fireworks extravaganzas, a fishing derby, archery tournament, sand sculpture contest, paddle board races, a Mariachi program, and more fun events at State Parks this summer.

Both the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian celebrate milestone anniversaries this summer. Check the calendar for the dates so you don’t miss the community celebrations!

Bernalillo County joins forces with the National Hispanic Cultural Center this summer to celebrate the chile harvest. This year’s event features an inaugural 10K and 5K Ristra Run.

Dive into the Summer of 2017 with a bucket-list mission of adventure: catch a weekly tribal dance at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center; tour Georgia O’Keeffe’s home; visit Carlsbad Caverns; explore the Puye Cliff Dwellings and the Gila Wilderness; make a walking tour through Artesia or Santa Fe; take the family to a State Park or Historic Site.

Throughout the summer there are a vast number of events and activities highlighted in this Summer Guide to enrich your life, expand your knowledge, and help put our modern world into perspective. Make the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love the year you follow the threads in the amazing tapestry of riches known as the Land of Enchantment.

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