After seeing the outline of “ America’s Cultural Rebels,” author Ken Kesey enthusiastically told its authors, “Holy smokin’ Gypsies you’re serious . . . Quite a project! And an effort I can appreciate.” Throughout its history America has made room for cultural rebels like Kesey. It has produced experimental artists and their followers, transformers of culture and society, whose legacies as outsiders made them heroes and social archetypes to entire generations. Frequently imitated in art and life, these breakers of form gathered to plot new aesthetic movements, print magazines, and hold controversial art shows and experimental theatrical and music performances. In its historical scope (1840s-1960s) “ America’s Cultural Rebels” looks at how experimental art and experimental lifestyles influenced the larger American culture as it interweaves ideas with individuals and their followers.
“ America’s Cultural Rebels” makes a careful distinction between high modern salons and galleries and bohemian urban and rural communities, as it explores their reciprocal influence. By looking into the realms of literature, painting, theater, and music, the readers are taken on a path of discovery as they relive events and the scenes where cultural rebels sought salvation in the fusing of art and life. Targeted toward a general audience, America’s Cultural Rebels is dedicated to sharing with a broader readership interesting movements and characters. It reconnects readers with past vanguards, aesthetic ideas, and lifestyles that have shaped our modern cultural life.