Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sharron Loree

There are so many comings and goings these days that I can't keep anything straight. I will just share one end point of an internet thread I pulled ("surfing" sounds too pointless, less tangible).

Emile has loved something I picked up for a dollar outside the bookstore, a hardcover called The Sunshine Family and the Pony, written and illustrated by Sharron Loree, published in 1972 by the Seabury Press, New York. The images are a simple black and white style, accompanied by minimal written storytelling, recounting the experience of moving into a commune and acquiring a pony for the children.
On a whim, I started to poke around to find out how the hippie story really went.

Sharron Loree, born in 1938, was on the vanguard of the 60s revolutionary guard for women. Many of her paintings reflect her complex understanding of the differing family roles, particularly when both the woman and the man are painters.

Loree is mentioned as the person who helped writer Valerie Paradiz diagnose her son's autism in a book about the subject. Loree herself had been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.

She still seems to be making 60's style work: here is one of her books at

So why am I so interested? Aside from a sweet and peculiar overlap that this woman has with painter Joan Mitchell, I am generally fascinated by the why's of the hippie era, particularly surrounding children. I am, in many ways, a hippie parent myself, and yet I abhor the selfishness that I perceived in my parents' generation. A child born in the 70s to free thinking young parents, I could not help but be swept into their emotional whirlwinds. They never grew up. Some of Loree's photos from the era capture, to me, the downside for the children, a kind of lonely, the-wolves-may-take-me feeling.

But it wasn't all bad. I see why they wanted community, especially after the soul crushing 50s, particularly for their mothers. I see why they wanted love and freedom, and why they hungered for a more natural world. We ourselves have all but given up that fight, ironically enough because of many of the technological and industrial decisions of our parents.

It was sweet, but it hurt. Maybe it was growth, but it wasn't always healthy. Nor was it always unhealthy. And so I like to eavesdrop and peep back down the tunnel of time, to understand a bit more what they were thinking, and what exactly happened.


  1. I love looking at my father's photos of hippie days in VT. Both the fotos and my memories of childhood on the commune do include semi-feral children, running in packs, scrounging food, but generally happy to be self sufficient and independent. I think I was very lucky because certainly safety was not a concern, and yet nothing terrible ever happened to me. There were art supplies, books with lovely pictures and dress-up clothes, lots of music and encouragement to sing and play too. There was plenty of adult attention if requested. Infrequent bathing was nice too, especially in the winter, and if there was no food at our place, well I could just go to the nearest neighbors and be sure of being fed and entertained. I have to say, I loved my hippie childhood, and the adults who cared for me did a great job, even if they were stoned half the time. (Camille)

  2. I am glad it was an almost ideal experience for you. I remember a lot of crazy feelings with no one to safely help me navigate them, but I do remember with relish the creativity and the freedom.

  3. I was searching online for my cousin Sharon Loree's art work when I stumbled upon your blog post from 3 years back! I found your interest in Sharon inspiring, as my husband is a film maker and we were recently talking about possibly doing a documentary on her past in the 60s etc. thanks for this write up, found it very interesting.

    1. Great! Let me know if you find out more fun details? She does seem like her life is a story waiting to be told...
      Good luck!