Vermont Hippies: Photographs by Peter Simon and Rebecca Lepkoff, an exhibit of some forty photographs of southern Vermont will be on view at the Vermont Center for Photography, 49 Flat Street, Brattleboro, July 2 to August 1. Since the 1930s Vermont has been a magnet for urban émigrés searching for their own Edens. During the 1960s and 70s, veterans of the peace and civil rights movements settled into nontraditional households. Outwardly, they were distinguished from their Vermont neighbors by their progressive views, long hair, and unconventional clothing. The repercussions of this influx of counter-culture is still strongly felt in Vermont today, even thought the photographs make it look like so long ago. Suzanne Flynt, a VCP Board Member said, “This exhibition will make you smile, or cringe, or even laugh out loud.”
The current exhibition features photographs by Rebecca Lepkoff, a member of New York’s Photo League from 1945 until it closed in 1951 for alleged Communist ties. During summers in the fifties, Lepkoff photographed back-to-the-landers living in Jamaica, Vermont. In the 1970s, Lepkoff took photographs of the next generation of her idealist neighbors and created a series she titled “Vermont Hippies.” Her photographs portray them enjoying nature, in their beautiful gardens, meditating, and worshipping the contours of the body. In describing her photograph of long-haired Danny and Jesse, Rebecca wryly notes the brothers believed hair was significant to life. Rebecca’s work is held in many collections, including the National Museum of Art in Washington, the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Bank of America collection. She has published two books, Life on the Lower East Side and Almost Utopia: The Residents and Radicals of Pikes Falls, Vermont. Rebecca is represented by Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York.
Also exhibited are photographs by Peter Simon of his friends and neighbors at the infamous Total Loss Farm commune in Guilford, VT in the 1970s. Simon began using his father’s 1937 Leica at age twelve and went on to become a photojournalist whose work has appeared in Life, Time, Rolling Stone, the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times and many other publications. One of many of Simon’s iconic images in the exhibition is of Ray Mungo and Ellen Snyder holding farm implements reminiscent of “American Gothic.” His new book, I and Eye, documents love-ins and sit-ins, the back to the earth movement, nude beaches, the New Age quest for spirituality, reggae culture and The Grateful Dead, the New York Mets, and life on Martha’s Vineyard.
Peter will be signing copies of his book at Gallery Walk on July 2.
This show is sponsored in part by Silver Forest of Vermont in Putney, VT, Green Mountain Post Films and the Dysfunctional Family Jazz Band, of Turners Falls, MA; and Milagro Webphoto.
Poems by poet Verandah Porche, who lived on the Total Loss Farm commune, will complement the exhibition. Porche was a cofounder of Liberation News Service (LNS) with Ray Mungo and Marshall Bloom, and an original member of Total Loss Farm. She will give a poetry reading at VCP on Saturday, July 17 at 4 pm. The event is free and open to the public.
The opening reception is on Friday July 2, from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., during Brattleboro Gallery Walk. Everyone who can do so is encouraged to wear their 1960s and 70’s fashions to the opening.
Coincidentally the current issue of Harvard Magazine features an article about Harvard dropouts of the period. Highly recommended!
The public is welcome. The exhibit will close on Sunday, August 1.