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Holly Harman
P.O. Box 473
Cloverdale, CA 95425

Book chronicles life inside a hippie commune

Reprinted from Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Sunday, December 1st, 2013
By MARY JO WINTER / Cloverdale TOWNS correspondent

Holly and Gumby

Cloverdale author, illustrator and winery owner Holly Harman, who has long been associated with Gumby, has written a book about life in a commune during the late 1960′s.
(Photo: John Burgess / PD)

Holly Harman may be less famous than her sibling Gumby and his stable of friends, but the Cloverdale author/vintner shares some of his spotlight.

Her stepfather was the late Art Clokey, the father of clay animation and the creator of Gumby, Pokey and Pals.

In addition to providing the voice of Gumby’s sister, Minga, Harman created the set designs, murals, storyboards, models and props for the Gumby movie and television series. She also published and illustrated children’s books that included “Gumby’s Circus,” “Gumby Goes to the Sun,” “Gumby and Pokey Journal” and “Pokey Counts.”

For the past decade, however, Harman, 62, has been focused on a more mature audience. “Inside a Hippie Commune,” self-published in January 2013, gives readers a view into the late ‘60s at the Holidays Resort Hippie Commune in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Harman lived there with her parents for three years before leaving at the age of 17 to attend the San Francisco Art Institute.

A few years ago, while visiting family friends she hadn’t seen in 35 years, Harman was handed a huge box of never-before-published photographs from that era with instructions to “write a book.” For two years, the box sat unopened on a shelf until, one day, she decided to look through them.

That began a five-year effort to gather more material, including personal stories from others who were there, in order to complete the book.

Holly Harman with her books

Holly Harman, author and illustrator of several children’s books,
holds a copy of her latest book, “Inside a Hippie Commune.”
(Photo: Mary Jo Winter)

“We lived the story and it needed to be told,” she says. “What happened in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1966 and 1967 was an integral part of the whole hippie movement.”

Her research led her north to a photographer living on a remote piece of property in Humboldt County and south to the Hip Santa Cruz History Project, a group devoted to documenting the history of Hip Santa Cruz from about 1964 to 1972.

“Almost everyone at the commune was older than I. In fact, since starting to write this book, nine people in the book have passed away. That’s why it’s so important for me to tell their stories now before this historical record is lost forever.”

There are chapters on The Catalyst Coffee Shop in Santa Cruz, a music venue still in existence today; The Barn in Scotts Valley, where bands like Big Brother and the Holding Company played; the Merry Pranksters, a group led by author Ken Kesey and the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, to name a few.

Other chapters include vignettes on artists like Tiny Tim, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and Jerry Garcia.

Harman points out that the book contains a lot of social statements about what was going on at the time. “For example, the commune members were groundbreakers when it came to sustainable and organic gardening. Pretty soon, UC Santa Cruz was even offering classes in California Certified Organic Farming.”

The 236 page limited-edition book, filled with large black and white photographs, newspaper articles, first-hand memoirs and more, sells for $39.95 on Amazon. Holly Harman is now releasing an accompanying DVD Music Documentary that will contain footage from three films taken at the commune.

“Two of the films were already public domain,” she says, “but the other one was a reel-to-reel film that was shipped to me from Indiana. There is also a separate Music CD Soundtrack that was taken from the Documentary film. Music created in the '60s, with Jerry Garcia playing Pedal Steel Guitar on one of the tracks."

As a graphic artist, Harman also owns Healdsburg-based Wine Label Design, producing wine labels for clients all over the world. Her label for Plymouth-based Bray Vineyards’ “Brayzin Hussy” wines, a Victorian era cowgirl in a claw foot bathtub, is so popular an annual festival has sprung up around it.

Harman knows a thing or two about wine and marketing. Since 1983, she and her husband, Eric Levin, have owned Le Vin Estate Winery & Vineyards just outside of Cloverdale on Hwy 128 where they produce award winning wines made from organically grown grapes. Their tasting room and vineyards are open for tours by appointment only.

Now that “Inside a Hippie Commune” is published and the DVD is completed, Harman is already thinking ahead to her next project.

“It’s going to be a children’s book entitled “Buried Treasure,” and it’s going to be different than anything I’ve ever done before.

Holly Harman  - Bookstore book display

Gumby Goes to The Sun book signing

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