When Alexandra Jacopetti and Jerry Wainwright came to San Francisco’s small, independent publisher, Scrimshaw Press, they brought with them years of friendship and shared experience as two forerunners in the early psychedelic scene of the San Francisco Bay. Wainwright brought a portfolio plum full of credentials anyone in the know would dream of having. Album covers, posters and photo sessions with California’s rock’n’roll elite were a mainstay — the Grateful Dead and The Family Dog were always in the mix, right beside features in Rags Magazine and the more sedate Sunset Magazine.
Images from Revelations, a happening from Berkeley’s Open Theater days in 1966
Photos by Kelly Hart. More from him can be seen in his recent book SAN FRANCISCO’S PSYCHEDELIC SIXTIES, available by clicking the title link.
Pair this with Jacopetti’s long history as one of the scene’s earliest pioneers and explorers of the hippie impulse through theatrical “happenings,” fiber and needlecraft. She was at the center of it all from the very beginning and offered an important voice to so many of the events that put her generation on the map. From running with (or perhaps she’d say, trotting along after) the Beats in the ‘50s and eventually coming to co-create the Trips Festival, living communally at Morningstar Ranch and Sunshine Camp, her creative voice helped give birth to an aesthetic we still associate with this powerful generation.
Jacopetti & Wainwright participated in putting on this historic coming-out of the counterculture
Eric Christensen’s 2007 documentary is available online at www.the tripsfestival.com.
The special seed Wainwright and Jacopetti planted in the soil of Scrimshaw Press almost immediately grew into something that at the time neither of them realized would come to carry such impact into the coming decades. Scrimshaw had already seen great success with their book Handmade Houses, and were ready for a follow-up that could stand with it. After a few quick days of calls and conversation in December of 1973, the contracts were signed and the wheels in motion. Several months of meeting artists, gathering their stories and photographing them with their works quickly assembled into a publication that made a great splash when it came out in the fall of 1974 and soon went into a second printing.
That year it received awards from Publisher’s Weekly for graphic design and Best Books for Young Adults from the American Library Association.
Beyond 1975 the book’s life has only grown. Dozens of articles in the national and international press (People Magazine, New York Times, LA Times, Women’s Wear Daily, Washington Post, Sunset Magazine, London Times, and leading newspapers across Europe, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, and China) came to celebrate the book and its impact. And more notably Native Funk and Flash came back into the spotlight when famous design house Balenciaga’s lead designer Nicolas Ghesquiere admitted to copying a Kaisik Wong design featured in Native Funk and Flash. This led to a major international conversation in 2002 about copyright and plagiarism in the arts, including sampling in music. Newspapers in the Asian world were particularly interested because Asian and Asian-descent designers were coming into international focus about that time.
In 1974-75 the Western Association of Art Museums traveled an exhibit from Native Funk & Flash artists that went to fourteen western museums. This was organized by Inez Storer, later a curator at Oakland Museum. Oakland Museum also purchased several items for their permanent collection. Jacopetti’s F&F cover jeans and her Hero Shirt have been shown in major museums around the world, residing now in Oakland. When borrowed for a major museum exhibit in Paris in the early 2000’s, crowds to see these and other embellished jeans and denim garments hit record highs.
In 2012 Michael Cepress began to teach his Countercouture class at University of Washington, Seattle, featuring Native Funk & Flash as his textbook. Alexandra and he became fast friends, first via telephone, then when he traveled from Washington to Sebastopol to co-host an event, Transition Style, above, with Alexandra.
And special thanks go to Michael’s Countercouture class project and Matthew Hicks who created the original version of this website and the Funk & Flash Facebook page. Also to Michael himself for his enthusiasm for the work, for writing some of the copy included in this site, and much more.