Photography •  Southwest •  New Mexico and Cultural Studies

$19.95 hardcover

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Across the Great Divide: A Photo Chronicle of the Counterculture

Photographs by Roberta Price

Gold Medal Winner for Photography, ForeWord Reviews 2010 Book of the Year Awards

In 1969 Roberta Price received a grant and traveled west to explore and photograph the communes that had begun to spring up in New Mexico and Colorado. Over the next eight years she took more than 3,000 photos of commune life, and now she has selected 121 images for publication in a visual memoir that reflects on her experiences and invites us to contemplate the rural counterculture of her youth.

Unlike most photographers of the back to the land movement, Price "went native," joining a Colorado community and living there for seven years. Her photo documentation of her years at Libre provides a unique view of commune life through the eyes of a participant. We see residents building homes, raising families, and celebrating community.

Price's photographs of Drop City, New Buffalo, Reality Construction Company, Libre, the Red Rockers, and other southwestern communes capture long-haired men, women in self-made peasant attire, psychedelic art, sheaves of marijuana, cast-iron stoves, and preindustrial agricultural practices-visual evidence of the great divide that separated Price, her friends, and associates from the families and neighbors among whom they had grown up. The photos also reveal the presence of record players, amplifiers, and electric guitars, along with a staggering array of architectural and interior design, and visits by such iconoclasts as Ken Kesey, Peter Orlovsky, and Allen Ginsberg. The most famous cliché about the era is that if you can remember it, you weren't there. Price was there with her camera, and her images help us see it more clearly now.


Roberta Price is an attorney in Albuquerque. She is also the author of Huérfano: A Memoir of Life in the Counterculture.


"Price's understated, almost journalistic foray is lit by warmth, humor, and the abundant tenderness of her subjects; the photographs function as part family album (Price herself called a commune her home for seven years), part countercultural slide show, part lesson in American history....If at first glimpse, these images appear as familiar images of hippie culture, a closer look reveals nuance and idiosyncrasy. Characters recur, a story begins to emerge, and the work unfurls into a profound exploration that touches on ethnography."


Publishers Weekly

"A must-have for those who are recovering hippies and those who wish they could have been."


New Mexico Magazine

"In direct, engagingly understated photographs and charmingly level-headed prose, Roberta Price affectionately recalls and puts into context the lives of a group of new American pioneers who optimistically returned to the land at the end of the 1960s. Herself an energetic part of that adventure, she is a charming and truthful witness to that time, those hopes, their hard work and rustic surroundings."


Gordon Baldwin, photographs curator and former Associate Curator of Photographs, the J. Paul Getty Museum

"I love this book! Don't be fooled by the scholarly foreword. These photos, and Roberta Price's stories, capture the essential, on-the-edge, winging-it, playing-for-keeps creativity and sacrificial dedication of 1960s communards. She lived it and recorded the by-products of the enormous liberation of energy generated by following one's personal visions of authenticity and ethics. I knew some of these folks, lived on communes identical in character, and visited many others. Her account is true. I wrote a book hoping to capture the complexity, poverty, joy, chaos and freedom of this life. I think Roberta's done a better job. I won't even lend my copy for fear of losing it."


Peter Coyote, actor, author of Sleeping Where I Fall

"Roberta Price's stunning book delivers the past with a wallop. It is at once a work of history and memory with none of the anthropological detachment that frequently characterizes interrogations of this period. Price has succeeded in capturing the energy and the often underestimated ambitiousness of the whole countercultural project. Her images have an immediacy and power that returned me (full disclosure: I was there) to that peak historical moment during which some of us imagined we could remake the world."


Mary F. Corey, cultural historian and author, University of California, Los Angeles

8.5 x 10 in. 120 pages 118 color photos