Last night was the opening of the retrospection exhibit of textile arts from Alexandra Jacopetti Hart. It was spectacular. I would say that even if Jennifer Beckham had not been the curator. The show was a wonderful collaboration between Alexandra and Jennifer. Congratulations to both. You can see the exhibit on the weekends until July 7. Make it a point to go.
Here is my article that is published in the Sonoma County Gazette.
Alexandra Jacopetti Hart took the 60’s by storm and led the crowd in making the most of the times. But do not think that Alexandra is locked into the era that formed her. Here is a woman who can provoke innovation today and know that the path continues into a new realm. Beginning June 7, Alexandra’s past will be only the step to a new and exciting future at the opening of a retrospective exhibit of her Funk and Flash creations. During the last 50 years, Alexandra has participated in the art scene of Northern California through painting, performing and participating. But what will keep her in the forefront of creativity to many of her admirers is the large contribution to the textile arts – weaving, embroidery and design. Thus is the focus of the installation at Occidental Center for the Arts from June 7 to July 7.
The early years of Alexandra’s life were spent in Southern Idaho and Salt Lake City. She learned the craft of sewing and creating with fabric by spending time with her grandmother and grandmother’s friends as they quilted. She dissected the tailored garments that her great aunt gave her and learned how clothing was created. Still a teenager, she discovered the value of quality fabric when she designed and constructed an embroidered dress for her younger sister. She became interested in weaving to provide the substrate that she needed for creating original art with needle and thread. At age 18, Alexandra was a mother with a second child on the way and newly divorced. A person she met said “you belong in North Beach.” She had never heard of North Beach but she left Salt Lake City for The City by the Bay and never looked back.
It was not long after coming to San Francisco that Alexandra met Roland Jacopetti and the two of them began fast friends. Roland taught her the ins and outs of San Francisco and Berkeley. They were then known as Ben and Rain which may have been their names given at birth. Rain combed the beaches of Berkeley and used driftwood to create art. With the acceptance of a collage on driftwood for display at Vorpal Gallery in San Francisco, Rain/Alexandra felt she was an artist. Until that time she did not feel that she “qualified” to call herself an artist as she did not meet the high standards formed by the admiration of artists within her family. The Open Theater in Berkeley began in July of 1965. Founders Ben and Rain Jacopetti had formed a group called the Berkeley Experimental Arts Foundation “for the presentation and study of new art forms and trends”. The Open Theater began presenting shows every weekend, and sometimes on weekdays as well. This venture may have introduced Psychedelic Music to the 60s counter culture as an advertisement in the Oakland Tribune is the first known printed reference. Alexandra recalls that the average audience size was around 10. Everything changed with the Trips Festival at the Longshoreman’s Hall in San Francisco in early 1966. The organizers included Roland and Alexandra and Bill Graham. Accustomed to audiences of less than twenty, they were overwhelmed when the line to get in wrapped around the building. Ten thousand hippies showed up to the three day event . Not only were lives changed but the world changed. Bill Graham went on to rent the Fillmore – Roland and Alexandra went another direction and relocated to Morningstar Ranch outside of Occidental.
A dream of Alexandra’s was to live in a compound with her family where they could grow their own food and create life and art. This dream was realized at Sunshine Camp in Forestville. Alexandra returned to her roots of textile art. She embroidered jeans, jackets, ethnic inspired garments. She founded Native Funk and Flash, Folkwear Patterns and Dharma Trading Company. She was in the beginning of Baulines Craft Guild. She created the Macramé Park to the delight of children in Bolinas. Her energy seems endless and her enthusiasm is contagious.
The exhibit at Occidental Center for the Arts is a celebration of Alexandra’s creations and contribution to our collective culture. The Native Funk & Flash book reissue featuring unpublished material will be in conjunction with a gallery exhibit and a film event featuring The Saga of Macramé Park and Eric Christensen’s Trips Festival. This will be a fun time – full of nostalgia for the old hippies and history for the local youth. For Alexandra this is a transition time – while she is no longer able to do the delicate manipulations of needle and thread, she is not willing to stop her time of creating. Her next project is to be a “social” artist – creating by who she is – not what she makes. I think that she began this project the day she stepped into North Beach.