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LOOK: Creative Growth's Summer of Love LOOK: Creative Growth's Summer of Love

LOOK: Creative Growth's Summer of Love

by Patrick James
July 8, 2009

In 1967, roughly 100,000 young people from every corner of the country made pilgrimages to San Francisco, traveling, as if summoned by a supernatural force, to what seemed like a hallowed ground of new ideas and creative thinking. It was called the Summer of Love, and it remains one of the most mythologized and celebrated convergences of art and culture in American history.

Today, on the other side of the Bay, Oakland's Creative Growth Art Center-the world's oldest and largest studio for adult artists with disabilities-unveils its own Summer of Love, an exhibition that draws upon that late 1960s coupling of visionary ideas and love to sow the seeds of artistic revolution. Featuring work by some 30 artists with physical, mental, and developmental disabilities, Summer of Love showcases the impressive communicative potential of people who had been historically ignored-if not altogether neglected-by mainstream culture."The theme was something that seemed to already be running through the work made by the artists here," says Jennifer Strate O'Neal, curatorial projects manager at Creative Growth. "The time frame that the Summer of Love took place in was revolutionary for the arts-and also for people with disabilities, things were beginning to change."Founded more than 35 years ago by Director Tom di Maria, Creative Growth now serves 127 adult artists with a stimulating, nurturing environment in the form of day classes in a variety of artistic media, allowing adults with disabilities to experience the soul-enriching joy of craftsmanship and, potentially, enter their work into the art market. With the support of the musician David Byrne and artist Cindy Sherman, each of whom lent works of their own to the show, the exhibition runs through August 14, and serves as a beacon of inspiration for anyone in search of something new, vital, and, yes, lovely, in the art world.

Header image by Aurie Ramirez. Lower image by David Albertsen.Creative Growth is supported by its membership. To become a member, make a donation. For information on how to apply to the program, click here.
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