Paula Douglas, also known as Gretchen Fetchen, was one of the early participants in the San Francisco Acid Test happenings organized by Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters in the mid-1960s. The events were designed as gatherings to promote consciousness expansion and creativity through the use of LSD, which was legal at the time.
Gretchen Fetchen’s Acid Test Dress (1965) and painted Orange Leather Boots reflects the Merry Pranksters’ rejection of norms of appearance through the embracing of exuberant Day-Glo colors. The garment also features a star, together with red, white and blue stripes — symbols of the Merry Pranksters.
Acid Test Dress and Boots Installation View. Photographed as Part of the Counter Couture Exhibit, Up Though August 20th, 2017 at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC
On Saturday night, Geoffrey and I made an unplanned pit stop into the Judith Charles Gallery, having been attracted in from the sidewalk, to view an eye catching exhibit from San Diego based artist Kelsey Brookes. Entitled Better Living Through Chemistry, this show features a large body of work and is Brookes‘ first solo exhibition in New York.
Brookes’ appealing visual style derives from his background in molecular biology, which, of course, explains why these round canvases look like acid trip influenced interpretations of human brain scans. According to the press release, “Brookes has taken his knowledge of scientific images and expanded them into extremely intricate paintings that explore the mutability of human consciousness. His painstaking process involves the painting of hundreds of concentric shapes that are both psychedelic and grounded in empiricism.” This exhibit reminded me a bit of Holton Rower’s equally colorful Pour Paintings show at The Hole from last year.
The many round canvases vary in size from 12-inches in diameter up to a size that nearly fills an entire wall. While they are very similar, each one is uniquely different from the next.
This One Covers nearly an Entire Wall
There are also a selection of large rectangular canvases with designs that are very similar to a sky full of exploding fireworks. I am not sure how much longer this show will be up, but you should definitely check it out if you are in the neighborhood.
Needless to say, but you can see I am about to, Brookes’ paintings create a very psychedelic personal viewing experience, especially to those who are, or have ever been, as Jimi Hendrix so precisely put it, “Experienced.”
Kelsey Brookes Better Living Through Chemistry is on Exhibit through January 2014 (I’m guessing this means through the end of the month at the Judith Charles Gallery (formerly Charles Bank Gallery), Located at 196 Bowery (at Spring street), New York, NY 10012. Hours are Wednesday to Friday 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM and Weekends 12 Noon – 6:00 PM.
On This Date, June 19th in 1967: Paul McCartney was the first British pop star to publicly admit using LSD, in chatting with a reporter who had inquired about it. Paul’s LSD quote appeared in Queen, a UK-based magazine at the time. The quote was also then reprinted by Life magazine in their June 1967 feature, ‘The New Far-Out Beatles: They’re grown men now and creating extraordinary musical sounds’ by Thomas Thompson.
In both articles, Paul McCartney was quoted as saying, “After I took it (LSD), it opened my eyes. We only use one-tenth of our brain. Just think what we could accomplish if we could only tap that hidden part. It would mean a whole new world.” ITV seized the opportunity to interview Paul about this public admission. The controversy would become a springboard for discussing the responsibilities of celebrities and journalists. The interview was filmed by ITV on June 19th 1967, in Paul’s backyard garden on Cavendish Avenue, and would be telecast in Britain later that evening. Paul had just celebrated his 25th birthday the previous day. The Beatles‘ latest LP Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was number one on the album charts – released less than three weeks prior on June 1st.
On This Date, June 24th, in 1967: Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” entered the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart where it would later peak at Number 5 (In the UK it hit #1 on June 8th). Lyrically inspired a party the band members attended where everyone was tripping on LSD (I’m pretty sure The Beatles were at that party) the song was written by the band around a melody composed by the group’s organist, Matthew Fisher, who was inspired by the chord progression of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Orchestral Suite in D,” composed between 1725 and 1739. As of 2009, “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” is the most played song in the last 75 years in public places in the UK. What a great song.
On This Day In 1967: The Beatles released the groundbreaking concept album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.The album was a worldwide critical and commercial success, spending a total of 27 weeks at the top of the UK Album Chart and 15 weeks at number one on the American Billboard 200. A defining album in the emerging psychedelic rock style, Sgt. Pepper was critically acclaimed upon release and won four Grammy Awards in 1968. Often recognized by prominent critics and publications as one of the most influential albums in the history of rock music, Sgt. Pepper frequently ranks at or near the top of published lists of the greatest albums of all time. In 2003, the album was placed at number 1 in the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.