The time I spent as a member of the North American Ibis Alchemical Company was some of the most creative and exciting years of my life. Every weekend, often beginning on a Thursday night, a bunch of artists huddled in a special section of the mezzanine of the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco surrounded by carousel slide projectors, 8mm movie projectors, and the heart of the show: overhead projectors with glass clockface dishes for the color, water and oil. Until 2:00 AM, we would transform the ballroom into a multi-dimensional experience that was literally mind-blowing. I loved every minute of it. It was like performing visual jazz. We saw some amazing performers who provided the soundtrack.
That experience is celebrated and thoroughly discussed in Ben Van Meter’s book titled Rebirth of a Nation – A Summer of Love Tribute. Ben Van Meter (known to many as “Humble Ben”) enjoyed his “15 minutes of fame” in the 1960’s as an innovative experimental filmmaker and light show artist.
In the ensuing fifty years his films have been viewed in museums, film classes, screened at many special events, yet his light shows and hundreds of photographic slides he produced for the North American Ibis Alchemical Company shows have not been seen publicly since then. These photos have never been printed and available until now.
Rebirth of a Nation is a color photo book of Ben’s ”Curious Photographs” taken while immersed in the 60’s SF Scene. Included are his insightful anecdotal memoirs of his life and times then and there, the making of his “Odd Films” and the history of the North American Ibis Alchemical Company, a unique light show similar to an improvisational jazz combo. Van Meter’s essays defend his contention that: “The sixties in San Francisco weren’t just about sex and drugs and rock and roll.”
Interviews with surviving artist members of his Light Show, The North American Ibis Alchemical Company (the house show at the Avalon Ballroom throughout the legendary Summer of Love 1967), are included in this unique book. The redoubtable Art Superstar Bruce Conner is also present in spirit through eight hand painted mandala slides which he produced for the Ibis.
View the Rebirth of A Nation campaign To access more high resolution images for publication email firstname.lastname@example.org for a dropbox link.
Ben Van Meter, was a leading light of the Independent Film and Light Show 1960’s Scene. His “Odd Films and Curious Photographs” are unique documents of the social, artistic and spiritual awakening that transformed American culture. His book, “Rebirth of a Nation” is a window into the Spirit of the Era. The purpose of this Ben Van Meter Kickstarter Campaign is to bring his vision into focus for a modern audience.
There are several rewards packages depending on the level of your donation. Give what you can and help spread the word. For anyone who lived through those times or who has an interest in what happened in the sixties, this book will be a treasure.