‘The Sights and Sounds of ’67,’ is the theme of a two-day music, film and photography festival honoring veterans, and benefitting an artistic outlet, namely for those with PTSD | SierraSun.com

‘The Sights and Sounds of ’67,’ is the theme of a two-day music, film and photography festival honoring veterans, and benefitting an artistic outlet, namely for those with PTSD

It can be difficult to convey gratitude to military men and women in a way that feels important enough or adequate to the weight of respect we carry for service members in our hearts.

According to two artistic veterans, one of the best ways to show appreciation or respect toward veterans is simply for people to educate themselves on what they've been through and in some cases, continue to struggle with as a result of their sacrifice years ago.

This weekend, a two-day music, film and fine art festival will be hosted from the Alexander Gallery in historic Nevada City.

Two organizers are artists and veterans, themselves. Michael Llewellyn works with Nevada County Arts Council and is a professional photographer and the artistic director for project, Image Nation. He was formerly a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves.

Llewellyn teaches and displays the photography work of veterans, particularly those with Post-traumtic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through Image Nation, where he hosts art classes for veterans and encourages them to explore their sense of self and display their unique art at different events.

Peter Blachley is the co-owner of the Morrison Hotel Gallery, and a veteran who served in the Army. Blachley is also working on the two-day music and film festival to raise awareness of veterans services and to raise money for Image Nation's plight in honoring and serving veterans.

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"Peace, Love and War – The Sights and Sounds of '67" is the name of the weekend festival and welcomes people of all walks of life, military or of no military affiliation.

Those visiting the gallery will have time to appreciate the history of our veterans and past culture through viewing "Monterey Pop," and to educate themselves more on the complexities of PTSD through the film, "Thank You for your Service".

"Focusing on the 'Thank You for your Service' film, that is an extension to Image Nation in that it tells the story of PTSD and how complex it is, how it affects families and communities — hopefully it brings more awareness of that issue to the general population for when it's time to vote, donate or get involved; hopefully people are more aware of how it affects the fabric of the community," Llewellyn said.

Through Image Nation, Llewellyn is able to make an impact using his years of photography experience.

"I'm a firm believer in visuals first, words second. I believe when a viewer has mostly visuals, they're half-told stories; the other half is also told by the viewer — the viewer provides the explanation and is engaging in the story, as opposed to fully narrating the situation."

Image Nation encourages the veterans to tell their story through imagery and invite the general public to interpret its meaning for themselves, gaining a closer look into who they are as individuals, rather than being part of a "PTSD group."

A music lover and former music industry businessman himself, gallery owner Blachley worked for Capitol Records in the 1970s and also has military experience, which he says allows him to see both the artistic and political side of the cultural rift many remember experiencing during the summer of 1967.

"I've been in the music side of things, drummer before the service, music was a big part of my life. But even when I was in the service, music was a big part of my therapy. I know it was for a lot of guys that were there as well," Blachley said.

He went on to explain the thought process behind showing the "Monterey Pop" newly remastered concert film by D.A. Pennebaker.

"Music, even though we were over there in Vietnam, was a big part of everyone's lives and that wasn't going away. Were there factions, a social movement in that to end the war in Vietnam? Well, yes there was. Were some of those people disrespectful to veterans? Yes, and that was a terrible time. Where we're at now in 2017, we need to bring it together. The divisiveness has gone on long enough. We need to respect, honor the sacrifice that veterans made, but music will always be a big part of our lives."

Blachley also cited Jimi Hendrix's military service, saying artists, too, need recognition for who they are, and that Monterey Pop was able to present several historically influential artists to the world, something that should be celebrated.

Both the "Monterey Pop" 1967 summer festival film showing and the "Thank You for Your Service" PTSD documentary will be shown as part of the "Peace, Love and War – The Sights and Sounds of '67" music festival's lineup of events honoring veterans.

Guests will also have the opportunity to attend a complimentary VIP cocktail reception hosted on Saturday, Aug. 12, and view exclusive fine art prints of the Alexander Gallery all weekend long, featuring Beggars Banquet, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin with Tom Jones, and Jimi Hendrix.

Proceeds from donations collected benefit a cause supporting veterans' services.

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at cwalker@sierrasun.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.