DROP CITY (2012 USA) 82min. HD video
Directed & Edited by Joan Grossman
Produced by Joan Grossman & Tom McCourt
Animation & Titles by Michael Krueger
Support provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and our many Kickstarter contributors.
"Poetically economic structures..."
In 1962, Gene Bernofsky, Jo Ann Bernofsky and Clark Richert were students at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Gene and Clark developed a concept they called “Drop Art” (coining the term well before the era-branding slogan, “Turn on, tune in, drop out”). "Dropping" artworks from the rooftop of a loft space in Lawrence, they were making art a spontaneous part of everyday life in the face of a society they saw as increasingly materialistic and war-mongering.
In 1965, they bought a small piece of land near Trinidad, Colorado and called their settlement Drop City. They were soon joined by other artists, writers and inventors, and they started building a community that celebrated creative work.
Drop City's dazzling structures were based on Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes and the crystalline designs of Steve Baer, a pioneer in geometric structure and solar energy. The Droppers had little building experience, but they were full of ingenuity and exuberance. The domes cost almost nothing and were made from salvaged materials – culled lumber, bottle caps and chopped-out car tops. Drop City became a lab for experimental building, and in 1966 Fuller himself honored Drop City with his Dymaxion Award for “poetically economic structural accomplishments.”
Drop City attracted international attention and inspired a generation of alternative communities. But the flood of attention led to overcrowding, and the community was eventually abandoned to transients. By 1973, Drop City had become the world’s first geodesic ghost town.
Drop City is now recognized as the first rural commune of the 1960s, and its early experiments with solar technology and recycled materials speak to a green economy and a new generation of DIYers.
"We liked to collect the detritus around us and to make things..."