For aging baby boomers, the Summer of ’69 represented a collage of experiences that would define a generation. Much as the big band sound was the earmark for the World War II generation, rock and roll would become the hallmark for Boomers. This was a time when young Americans emerged as the most educated, vocal and consciously active group in our Nation’s history. Haight-Ashbury, hippies and bell bottoms would somehow forever be identified with the flower-power generation.
In a nostalgic look at the past, Signature Artist Members Terri Knight, Burgess “Bird” Thomas and Patty Rae Wellborn of the Center for Contemporary Arts have come together to Celebrate the Summer of ’69 in an exhibition entitled “Off Your Rocker!” The works in this exhibition imbue the sense of empowerment that this generation felt in the need to question…Everything! In what would become an epic statement, the reality that was Woodstock helped this generation find their voice in a powerful movement to not go blindly into the night.
Terri Knight, a rock-n-roll Disc Jockey for the Abilene, Texas classic rock station “The Bear”, has been a painter for most of her life. Her offerings of portraiture of rock icons such as Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendricks are indicative of her unique style that uses form and color to speak to the viewer. “Every patron of mine has had a special connection with a piece I have created and only then do I realize the unconscious messages of the paint. It’s a personal journey with every piece of work created.”
Burgess “Bird” Thomas, an Abilene native, became fascinated with “the counterculture” by the summer of 1969, and would have been a perfect fit for attending Woodstock, had she been a little older. Instead, Bird employed her powers of imagination to create the experience in her mind…Where it still dwells. Since graduating from the University of Texas, she has travelled the world, making sure not to miss anything…and returned to Abilene with a deeper understanding and appreciation for her West Texas roots. Her art runs the gamut from photo, assemblage and paint to design and drama. Her passion in this phase of life is to help children have an excellent art experience ensuring that their creativity isn’t stifled.
Patty Rae Wellborn, a self-educated artist, has been a member of the Center for Contemporary Arts for eighteen years. At the age of seven, Patty Rae was given an Etch-a-Sketch that she used constantly. Lines were the very basis of her art until she was give watercolors by her mother. “In ‘Off Your Rocker’ I am using the lines influenced by my Etch-a-Sketch days. I am drawn to the flow of lines that denote the movement of the body or expression on a face; the pain in the face of Janis Joplin, the quirky grin and dance moves of Mick Jagger, the way Jimi looks like he is one with his guitar and lost in his music or moody expression on the face of Jim Morrison.”
“Off Your Rocker!” is an artistic interpretation celebrating the summer of 1969: a complex mixture of politics, economics, and intergenerational conflict, which culminated in Woodstock. “Off Your Rocker!” will open to the public Friday, July 19.