Visual Arts Preview: “Summer of Love” at the MFA — A Good Trip

By Milo Miles


The Museum of Fine Arts is tuning in, turning on, and dropping a multi-media dose of the Summer of Love (July 6 through October 22), 50 years after the said season. The long-run show is an exhibition of photography and graphic design. Special events include reflections on the Haight-Ashbury scene by photographer Herb Greene (all Grateful Deadheads must attend this: Greene was close to the band’s official chronicler and knew Jerry Garcia before he started playing in bands) and an exploration of how newly sophisticated recording studios helped create all those knockout records that you can’t get away from even if you want to today.

It’s a testament to the enduring fascination of the era that the MFA exhibit feels like a key visit. The odds have never been more stacked against a Summer of Love. If you were bopping around at the time, you know that looking back was not where it was at – tomorrow is the place, or today at least, because yesterday was for squares or (ugh) old people. But it’s possible to revisit the past without cloying nostalgia. The explosions in graphics still overwhelm, not least because whatever formal training the artists had, their essential degree was from LSD University. The freed spirits in the photos, who know there are places to go far beyond the shadow of the Establishment, tickle the imagination to this moment. For those who were not on the scene, who know only the memories of parents (or grandparents), the MFA provides a fine opportunity to cut through the positive and negative hype and take in the swirling substance of the 1967 visuals. Wide-open possibilities are a trip beyond time.

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