After more than 50 years, the ‘Light’ bus – a Volkswagen Type 2 van – made world famous after its appearance at the 1969 Woodstock Art and Music Fair will run again, thanks to money from Volkswagen of America and the greater Volkswagen community. Artist Dr. Bob Hieronimus, who painted the original Light bus, will unveil a recreation this weekend at the Orange Country Transporter Organization (O.C.T.O.) Winter Meet in Long Beach, California.
“The bus is really about being one people on one planet,” says Hieronimus, who is also a ‘symbologist’. “On every side of the bus is a story – many stories – and the stories all point to unification, working together and a higher consciousness, which is what Light really is all about.”
People – stoned or otherwise – can view the hand-painted art piece from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 at Long Beach Veteran’s Memorial Stadium. This will be the first public unveiling of the replica of the Woodstock symbol and the premiere stop of its scheduled cross-country tour leading up to the music festival’s 50th anniversary.
The gaudy van is the result of a three-year effort by Hieronimus and Canadian documentarian John Wesley Chisholm to recover and recreate the van ahead of Woodstock’s milestone anniversary. “It’s a time machine that takes people to the past, through the present and to the future,” claims Chisholm.
Hieronimus had painted the original 1963 Standard Microbus in 1968, after an invitation from the van’s owner, who was using it to haul his band to the festival and wanted a ‘magic bus.’ It became a symbol of the Woodstock Art and Music Fair and greater generational call for peace, love and unity after a snapshot of the van by the Associated Press was widely circulated in newspapers and magazines across the country. The van appeared in the liner of the official Woodstock album.
While the VW bus had already been a favorite among young people seeking efficient ways to travel the country, the Light van covered with Hieronimus’s hand-painted symbols and psychedelic shapes, arguably, captured a unique moment of American culture.
Originally, the pair hoped to locate and restore the original ‘Light’ bus, but after a six-month search failed, they decided to build a replica. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter effort, the pair was able to acquire an exact model of the original ‘Light’ bus and begin a painstaking restoration process, including a six-week effort by Hieronimus and a team of five artists to recreate the original paintings from the bus.
After learning about the project, Volkswagen of America supported the search and restoration process. A team of Volkswagen fans have also helped bring the project to fruition, offering their services and jumping in to assist the duo.
“It’s a living room on wheels that you can outfit any way you want, and transports you and your family, however you define family, wherever you want to go,” says Chisholm.