Drop City was an artists’ community that formed in southern Colorado in 1965. Abandoned by the early 1970s
In 1965, the four original founders, Gene Bernofsky (“Curly”), JoAnn Bernofsky (“Jo”), Richard Kallweit (“Lard”) and Clark Richert (“Clard”), art students and filmmakers from the University of Kansas and University of Colorado, bought[ a 7-acre (28,000 m2) tract of land about four miles (6 km) North of Trinidad, in southeastern Colorado. Their intention was to create a live-in work of Drop Art, continuing an art concept they had developed earlier at the University of Kansas. Drop Art (sometimes called “droppings”) was informed by the “happenings” of Allan Kaprow and the impromptu performances, a few years earlier, of John Cage,Robert Rauschenberg, and Buckminster Fuller, at Black Mountain College.
As Drop City gained notoriety in the 1960s underground, people from around the world came to stay and work on the construction projects. Inspired by the architectural ideas of Buckminster Fuller and Steve Baer, residents constructed domes and zonohedra to house themselves, using geometric panels made from the metal of automobile roofs and other inexpensive materials.
The community grew in reputation and size, accelerated by media attention, including news reports on national television networks. The peak of Drop City’s fame was the Joy Festival in June 1967,which attracted hundreds of hippies, some of whom stayed on. With the complex of eight domes and geometric buildings constructed, Curly and Jo, the only official owners of the property, signed it over to a non-profit corporation consisting of the entire core group (then about a dozen). The deed stipulated that the land was “forever free and open to all people”.But tensions and personality conflicts were already a problem within the group, and soon became unbearable. By the end of 1968, some of the original occupants of the community had moved to Boulder, Colorado to start an artists’ cooperative, “Criss-Cross”, whose purpose, like Drop City’s, was to function in a “synergetic” interaction between peers (no bosses) to create experimental artistic innovation.