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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

Bethel Woods exhibit showcases love, peace and free expression

By Autumn Schanil - staff writer

By: Autumn Schanil | Democrat
“Love for Sale: The Commercialization of the Counterculture” will be on display until December 31.
BETHEL — The Museum at Bethel Woods has officially re-opened for the season, putting a whole lot of love into their new Special Exhibit.
Saturday, “Love for Sale: The Commercialization of the Counterculture” opened the 2017 season, and will be on display all year, through December 31.
The exhibit is drawn from the large popular culture collection of collector and author Michael Stern.
“We were approached about two years ago by collector Michael Stern from Atlanta, Georgia about his collection,” said Museum Director and Senior Curator Wade Lawrence. “He is a very interesting guy. He's an expert on The Beatles and Disney collectibles, and he has a basement in his house that is completely filled with memorabilia of the 60s and early 70s.
It all relates to peace, love, The Beatles, The Monkees, Peter Max, and more.”
The exhibit displays key pieces and objects that tell a story and show how the counterculture was co-opted by the mainstream culture.
“My wife and I happened to be at a wedding in Savannah when we got the call from Michael, so we rented a car and we drove to Atlanta to drop in and see the collection,” stated Lawrence. “We were blown away. We decided to bring in outside curator and Ph.D scholar Jill Silos-Rooney. When she saw the collection, we realized that we didn't want to just show the whole thing. We wanted to pick and choose the great examples that could tell a story. It was Jill who thought of the title and the whole concept.”
Lawrence and Silos-Rooney ended up choosing more than 200 objects for the exhibition.
“Love for Sale” uses a residential interior, or a type of home setting, as a backdrop to display the influence of the counterculture on American pop culture and commerce. Complete with a living room, kitchen, and children's bedrooms, the exhibition features everyday objects of “peace, love, and free expression” that became common in American households in the 60s and 70s, which in turn trivialized and marginalized the counterculture in the process.
Lawrence stated that he and Silos-Rooney realized while sorting through Stern's collection that it would be important to have display cases with special themes. So they did one on drugs, The Beatles, retail displays and another called “Collectors Choice.”
“Stern had a lot of pieces that he felt were really significant,” said Lawrence, “and you know what? They really are. Some of them are just so phenomenally wonderful.
“Even more exciting, between the time that he initially talked to us and the time we went to visit him, he had acquired an entire collection of authentic, vintage, black light posters. Some of them are absolutely killer.”
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