The 50th anniversary of Woodstock is a year away. That will be a milestone for “My Generation.” Who was I back then? A “good girl” from suburbia who had just gotten her driver’s license two days before the unprecedented cultural explosion we did not yet know would define our generation. Now I am an artist (who qualifies for senior discounts) revisiting my own long and winding road to Woodstock, armed with a sketchbook, a scrapbook, and always tuned in to quirky facts that amplify what was simply billed as “three days of peace and music.” As we now all know, it was so much more.
I live just 60 miles, or one hour, from this hallowed hippie ground, yet I had never even done a drive-by. Last December I visited the museum dedicated to all things Woodstock, and down the rabbit hole I went. I wandered the exhibits and started to think about who, and where, I was when Woodstock took control of the zeitgeist of a troubled, yet hopeful America.
By The Time I Got To Woodstock is the illustrated memoir I am immersed in, determined to finish in time for the 50th anniversary.
Rock icons Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison died, all at age 27 (all drug-related), soon after Woodstock. According to Michael Lang’s The Road to Woodstock: “The Doors were at the top of our list, but since Jim Morrison’s arrest in Miami in March, he’d become really paranoid. He told his booking agent he didn’t want to play Woodstock for fear of being assassinated onstage.”
Today is the anniversary of Morrison’s death—July 3, 1971. He was in a bathtub in Paris, and I was in the ocean at Stone Harbor, NJ. It was the summer before I moved to New York City to go to art school and (I thought) become a fashion designer.
What I didn’t know then was that what I really wanted to do was draw. And eventually, archive memories.
This summer I get to do both.
art & text copyright Sharon Watts 2018