Mystic Arts World, the epicenter of the underground counterculture scene in Southern California, was a hangout spot for experimental, avant-garde artists at the tail end of the 60s. Though the gallery, bookstore and head shop burned down in 1970, the visionary personalities that convened there, including the Brotherhood of Eternal Love (at the time dubbed the Hippie Mafia, with Timothy Leary as a figurehead), were not extinguished when the building disappeared.
Now, 45 years later, Mystic Arts World is returning, this time as an exhibit at the Coastline Community College in Newport Beach. Open now, Tuesday – Saturday, 12-4pm, until September 26, 2015 at the Coastline Art Gallery, 1515 Monrovia Avenue, Newport Beach, CA 92663.
The exhibit is a collaborative effort between Wright and Bolton Colburn, the former curator of the Laguna Art Museum. Inspired by Nicholas Schou’s book, “Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love and Acid to the World,” published in 2010, Colburn contacted Wright to create an exhibit featuring the artists who congregated at the gallery.
“At the core, the exhibit centers around the free-thinking, free-willing people who created the counterculture. We aim to figure out exactly what we did 50 years ago, and if it’s possible to do it again in the future,” said Dion Wright, a prominent figure among the artists exhibited at Mystic Arts World, and longtime exhibitor at the Sawdust Art Festival.
Wright, who served as the director of the Mystic Arts World gallery program, calls the exhibit of 37 artists “visionary in nature.”
Along with the display of art, the exhibit will feature a panel discussion with figures of Mystic Art World. Beth Leeds and Star Shields, both exhibiting Sawdust artists, will be on the panel along with artist Joe Miller, Carol Griggs Randall (widow of John Griggs, founder of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love), and Michael Randall, former general manager of Mystic Arts World. Beat poet, philosopher and multi-media artist Gerd Stern will also be on the panel, whom Dion Wright calls the “grand old man of avant-garde art.”