Native Funk & Flash
Native Funk & Flash
An Emerging Folk Art
Perfect Bound Softcover
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This delightful 1974 classic is replete with new images, updates on favorite artists, and a thoughtful afterword by the author that reflects on what was at the heart of the ’60s counterculture. Native Funk and Flash sits alongside treasured costume and fashion bibles on the shelves of the great designers of our times. Many artists, now in their prime, credit their early encounter with it for their own choice of career and inspiration. Within these pages hand-embroidered and hand-painted imagery enhance dear old shirts and jeans, serving the dual purpose of extending their usefulness and emblazoning the wearer with messages of love, psychedelic daydreams, and mysticism for all to see. The ethos of a generation is captured here: the scenes, sound, smell, look, politics, spirit, and most of all, the love is expressed in this moment in time when people cared so deeply for one another and the future that they wore it on their sleeves. Carved wooden doors, chairs, handmade fanciful shoes, beads, leather, incredible jewelry, a playground, patched upholstery—everything was fair game for inventive self-expression, whether one was a skilled adept or a beginner with a dream. No craft or design collection should be without this book.
An opening of self is what this folk art is all about. It’s the story of this opening: in individuals, watch each subsequent work they do; in the culture, watch more complex messages and sensitive treatments appear as the artists become more proficient, as the medium continues to loosen up. These artists are trying to show us something of their inner selves. (I once tried to get an apprentice to stitch her inner demons onto her pants. I still wonder if she ever got them out.) We want to externalize these states so that they may be read by others able to understand the language, attracting companions of the brotherhood. … Symbols and signs were flying around my brain those days. Spiritual talk and truck. Our family had just made its escape from the public eye, our swan song having been that great first coming out ball, The Trips Festival at Longshoremen’s Hall in San Francisco, January 1966. We watched Bill Graham get the Fillmore together, while Roland felt the need to clear out: “I’ve got to get away…I don’t know—read some Zen or something.” “Give it all away,” was one of our catch phrases and, after giving a bunch of it away, we packed up that old Dodge panel truck with a treadle Singer (good little machine—still runs perfectly), pots and pans, a lot of brown rice and our functional clothes. We sighed our relief at finally getting out. … There aren’t any patterns in this book because the patterns are all within, languishing and longing, like dreams, for expression. Don’t be daunted by lack of skill or technique; there are scores of books and several friends who can teach you French knots or chain stitch and, God knows, we’ve lost a lot of other skills since Grandma’s day. Many of the needlework pieces here are amateurish by her standards, but do heed the message from within, and try to break out through the channel of these visual images. … And from the vantage point of 40 years later, in the Afterword: Late in the '60s I began to query my fellow-journeyers about what a new myth for our times might be. We felt need of something we could look to for encouragement and guidance for the particular needs of our times, especially as we began to mature past the magical age of thirty. (Don't trust anyone over thirty was a common cry of the '60s youth culture.) Relationships didn't seem to conform to the models presented by our '40s and '50s parents. Nor did our experience and vision of sexuality fit that norm. Women were realizing their "equal but different" nature and demanding setting the balances aright. Myths like the Greeks' no longer cut it. Neither the Old nor the New Testament held clues for most of us. While ethnic cultures held fascination, their myths were too obscure to our experience of the time. I never got an answer. As the intervening years have passed I have occasionally revisited that question, with a continuing nod from my friends: yes, there must be a new myth to live by, but darned if I know what it is. Musing once again and recalling the Hero Quest, it may well be that the myth was always there. It's a solitary one, with the Hero/Heroine faced with continuing and mounting dangers: dragons, disbelief, loneliness, banishment to a strange land filled with unfriendly beings, privation, mirages—but with the success of eventually returning home with the goods. The golden ring, the magic seed, the healing balm and, yes, finally the welcoming arms of the whole loving human family. We thought it would be an accomplishment of community, of together bearding the lion in its den and winning its heart instead of having to kill. We thought that perhaps we could surmount the human condition of separation and enter into the presence of god/goddess together. I think this is the myth that we seek, yet only occasionally is it realized, even partially. Or more probably, it is such a great vision that it is hubris to imagine that a single generation can break through the doors of perception so entirely. Perhaps even to imagine and to hold the dream as possible is the equivalent of throwing the deadly Ring of Power into the abyss. It may at least be the equivalent of staying on the Path. And meantime, what has happened to our vision and our world? We must all wrestle with our own beliefs of what it means to be embodied and what it may mean to pass again into the experience awaiting us beyond death. Those beliefs, mostly handed to us through our ancestors in the form of myth, sacred text, and religious practice, both provide something to cleave to in the darkness and a rigidity of form that imprisons by defying the possibility of more evolved spiritual information. Evidence of my explorations tells me that fear of death engenders greed, among other possible reactions. The idea that power and money will keep one “safe” seems to have grown into a modern-day creed. But it results in somebody pissing in the water supply while they try to grab just a little bit more. Resulting cancers and mutations and serious climate changes will pay no attention to how much money or power an individual possesses. Poverty for the masses may well tum out to be unpleasant for power brokers as well. How many of us '60s Generation, fresh-eyed innocents still hold the original lessons of those early days sacred, keeping faith?
Alexandra Jacopetti Hart has been a textile artist for over fifty years, with her career focused in three main areas. Embroidery as exemplified by her work in Native Funk & Flash is only a small part of her contribution to the history of the dynamic social movements of the 1960’s and 70’s. With this book she captured the essence of the heartful, if naïve, values of the “flower children” and their sincere wish for peace and love; clean air, water, food and environment; equal rights for the oppressed; and freedom of expression of all kinds through the art they created for one another. Now, as these folks have grown into grandparents, they still convey those sincere and basic human desires through the pages of her beloved classic book. It holds a place on the bookshelves of designers and crafts lovers around the world. Folkwear Patterns, which she initiated in 1974, the same year Funk & Flash came out, with friends Ann Wainwright (wife of F&F photographer Jerry Wainwright) and Barbara Garvey (wife of F&F artist Al Garvey), is the second area of her career. This clothing pattern company authentically preserves many ethnic and vintage clothing styles and surface designs and techniques from around the world. They are used as palettes for art wearables designers, home sewers, and theatrical costumers and are still in production today. She was responsible for the written history of the garments and the surface design pattern drafting and instructions. Tapestries; woven, painted, or stitched wall hangings; and peyote-stitched beaded and silver jewelry comprise the third area. Large-scale tapestries hang in many corporate settings from IBM offices to Hyatt Regency hotels. A twelve-foot square playground in Bolinas, CA was the subject of an NEA-funded movie “The Saga of Macramé Park” filmed by Ben Van Meter. Museum and gallery showings of these categories have ranged around the world, and in the Bay Area her work has been included in exhibitions at San Francisco MOMA, The Palace of the Legion of Honor, Oakland Museum, and a variety of smaller venues. Examples from Native Funk & Flash reside in the permanent collection of the Oakland Museum. Over the years her work has been included in numerous books and had extensive periodical coverage. A retrospective exhibition of her fifty years in fiber opens June 7, 2013 at the Occidental Center for the Arts in Occidental, CA.


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