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This title in other editions

West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977


West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977 Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the heady and hallucinogenic days of the 1960s and ’70s, a diverse range of artists and creative individuals based in the American West—from the Pacific coast to the Rocky Mountains and the Southwest—broke the barriers between art and lifestyle and embraced the new, hybrid sensibilities of the countercultural movement. Often created through radically collaborative artistic practices, such works as Paolo Soleri’s earth homes, the hand-built architecture of the Drop City and Libre communes, Yolanda López’s political posters, the multisensory movement workshops of Anna and Lawrence Halprin, and the immersive light shows and video-based work by the Ant Farm and Optic Nerve collectives were intended to generate new life patterns that pointed toward social and political emancipation.

In West of Center, Elissa Auther and Adam Lerner bring together a prominent group of scholars to elaborate the historical and artistic significance of these counterculture projects within the broader narrative of postwar American art, which skews heavily toward New York’s avant-garde art scene. This west of center countercultural movement has typically been associated with psychedelic art, but the contributors to this book understand this as only one dimension of the larger, artistically oriented, socially based phenomenon. At the same time, they reveal the disciplinary, geographic, and theoretical biases and assumptions that have led to the dismissal of countercultural practices in the history of art and visual culture, and they detail how this form of cultural and political activity found its place in the West.

A companion to an exhibition originating at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, this book illuminates how, in the western United States, the counterculture’s unique integration of art practices, political action, and collaborative life activities serves as a linchpin connecting postwar and contemporary artistic endeavors.

Book News Annotation:

Critics and historians of art explore art in the deserts, mountains, and cities of the western US during the decade of cultural upheaval and florescence. They cover communal encounters, handmade worlds, cultural politics, and altered consciousness. Among the topics are Drop City's influence on the southwestern commune movement, queer costuming in San Francisco about 1970, political posters in a age of mass media, Black Panther artist Emory Douglas, and Chgyam Trungpa Rinpoche and dharma art at the Naropa Institute. There is no index. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


Recovering the art and lifestyle of the counterculture in the American West in the 1960s and ’70s

About the Author

Elissa Auther is associate professor of contemporary art at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. She is the author of String, Felt, Thread: The Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art (Minnesota, 2010).

Adam Lerner is director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and chief animator in the Department of Fabrications.

Lucy R. Lippard is an internationally known writer, activist, and curator. She is the author of eighteen books on contemporary art and has written art criticism for Art in America, The Village Voice, and Z Magazine, among other publications.

Table of Contents


Foreword: Memory as Model

Lucy R. Lippard

Introduction. The Countercultural Experiment: Consciousness and Encounters at the Edge of Art

Elissa Auther and Adam Lerner

I. Communal Encounters

1. How to Build a Commune: Drop City’s Influence on the Southwestern Commune Movement

Erin Elder

2. Collective Movement: Anna and Lawrence Halprin’s Joint Workshops

Eva J. Friedberg

3. The Farm by the Freeway

Jana Blankenship

4. San Francisco Video Collectives and the Counterculture

Deanne Pytlinski

II. Handmade Worlds

5. Handmade Genders: Queer Costuming in San Francisco circa 1970

Julia Bryan-Wilson

6. Libre, Colorado, and the Hand-Built Home

Amy Azzarito

7. Craft and the Handmade at Paolo Soleri’s Communal Settlements

Elissa Auther

8. Pond Farm and the Summer Craft Experience

Jenni Sorkin

9. Expanded Cinema in Los Angeles: The Single Wing Turquoise Bird

David E. James

10. Paper Walls: Political Posters in an Age of Mass Media

Tom Wilson

III. Cultural Politics

11. The Print Culture of Yolanda M. López

Karen Mary Davalos

12. The Countercultural "Indian": Visualizing Retribalization at the Human Be-In

Mark Watson

13. Goddess: Feminist Art and Spirituality in the 1970s

Jennie Klein

14. The Revolution Will Be Visualized: Black Panther Artist Emory Douglas

Colette Gaiter

15. Out of the Closets, Into the Woods: The Post-Stonewall Emergence of Queer Anti-urbanism

Scott Herring

IV. Altered Consciousness

16. Naked Pictures: Ansel Adams and the Esalen Institute

Suzanne Hudson

17. Techniques of Survival: The Harrisons and the Environmental Counterculture

Amanda Boetzkes

18. Countercultural Intoxication: An Aesthetics of Transformation

Mark Harris

19. Everywhere Present Yet Nowhere Visible: Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Dharma Art at the Naropa Institute

Bill Scheffel

20. Signifying the Ineffable: Rock Poster Art and Psychedelic Counterculture in San Francisco

Scott B. Montgomery




Product Details

Auther, Elissa
University of Minnesota Press
Lerner, Adam
Bryan-Wilson, Julia
Friedberg, Eva
Mark, Harris
Herring, Scott
Klein, Jennie
Art-History and Criticism
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
10 x 7 x 2 in

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » General
Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Art » United States General

West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977 New Trade Paper
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Product details 448 pages University of Minnesota Press - English 9780816677269 Reviews:
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Recovering the art and lifestyle of the counterculture in the American West in the 1960s and ’70s

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