Grace Slick in Vail Art Scene
Sex, paint, and rock 'n' roll
Visions from the '60s on display in the valley
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Stew Mosberg

Those of us around in the turbulent and exciting '60s cannot help but remember the influence of the music and art of that period. It had an impact on our minds, hearts and attitude.

Songs from Jim Morrison, Joplin, The Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful dead, art by Peter Max and Andy Warhol, and the Op and Psychedelic art movements born of the drug craze were both formidable and enlightening.

Some of those early artistic geniuses were lost to drugs and alcohol; some grew old and faded away. Others continue to dazzle by having reinvented themselves or by continuing to hone their skills to remain in the public eye.

Two of those icons are coming to the Vail valley; not as concert performers, but as painters.

One of the most prolific painters of the last half of the twentieth century is Peter Max. His art decorated dorm walls and everything in between; telephone book covers, mugs, pillows, buses, and airplanes-nothing escaped the Max imagery.

The ubiquity of his work transcends any movement; it is unmistakable in its style as much as in its marketing. And Peter is very much still at it.

Jerry Garcia by Grace Slick  

Another super star of the sixties was the lead singer of Jefferson Airplane, Grace Slick. One of the most outspoken of her peers, Grace gave special meaning to the phrase, "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll." While she continued to evolve long after the airplane became a starship, Ms. Slick always took solace in drawing and painting as a form of therapy.

Today, no longer touring with a band, she devotes most of her free time to painting.
On August 15 and 16 from 1-4pm and again from 6-9pm each day, the Masters Gallery in Vail (100 East Meadow Drive), will play host to Grace Slick at a reception and exhibition of her most recent work.

As prominent figures during the era, each has found an enduring audience. For fans o Ms. Slick it's easy to play her music and driftf back in time. For those who embrace the art of Peter Max, being transported can be as simple as gazing at one of his posters.

Getting to know Grace as an artist of a different medium is not all that difficult. She paints for the masses, but her work still exhibits a sincerity and charm.

Slick's achievement as a painter lays mostly in the clarity of her subjects. Referred to in her press releases as "rock 'n' roll communication," she defines her art as, "…easy to understand." That also describes her as a person. There is nothing pretentious about Grace Slick.

When being interviewed for this article, she remained the outspoken rebel of long ago, true to herself and to her art, whatever art she may be involved with at the moment.

Going through a particularly hard time a few years ago, she drew upon her affinity for art to recapture happiness and peace of mind. Using her love for animals as inspiration (she once had forty raccoons), Slick papered the walls of her home with paintings and drawings of her furred friends.

A visitor found the work so intriguing that she told Grace to consider doing it professionally. Not being interested in the business side of anything, the former vocalist deferred, until she met her present day manager, agent and artistic confident Scott Hann.

About the same time, the publisher of her memoir Somebody to Love? asked her to include some of her drawings of a few rocker buddies, and thereby introduced her to the world of professional art.

  Inspector Rabbit by Grace Slick

Followers of her music days remember her most for White Rabbit, and she has capitalized on the subject by creating numerous pictures of rabbits. In fact, an entire series entitled the Wonderland Suite will be the focus of the Masters Gallery exhibit.

The Alice in Wonderland theme is prevalent in her art, because as she put it, "my life went like that … there's no prince charming, she's (Alice) all alone and you better get used to appreciating being alone, because if you can't be alone you can't live with someone else. Life throws a lot of weird stuff at you and you question it and she questions it a lot."

Not formally trained, Slick's work vacillates between primitive to inspired and some pieces show genuine promise. Her sumi-style drawings, for example, are quite lovely and exhibit an economy of line reminiscent of Matisse, Picasso and even Al Hirschfield. Some of the allegorical pieces lack technical virtuosity yet retain their charm through the subject matter.

Her portraits of some of Rock's greats have merit beyond her obvious personal connection. Slick's growth as an artist is enhanced by her willingness to experiment, and although she prefers pastels because of their colors, acrylic is her current choice. In exploring scratchboard as a technique, she is learning the agony and ecstasy an artist must go through to comprehend what various methods and materials can do.

And although she says she, " …has a fear about everything …" this gutsy woman forges ahead with verve. The show is fun to see and will give you the chance to meet one of music's legends.

  Scout by Grace Slick
 
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