Logo   Slick show: Grace’s latest form of expressionism
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by Christopher John Treacy

Grace Slick isn’t looking for somebody to love her paintings, she just needs a creative outlet.

The singer, now 67, arrives in Boston Thursday to prep for showing her artwork this weekend at Wentworth Galleries in Burlington and Chestnut Hill.

Famed for her work with Jefferson Airplane and Starship, Slick retired from performing 17 years ago.

"We all have our pet peeves," she said from her home in Malibu, Calif. "Some folks don’t like Brussels sprouts. I stopped singing because I don’t like the look of old people on a rock ’n’ roll stage. It’s like a 24-year-old returning to the playground to play jacks. If other performers over 50 feel comfortable leaping around up there, that’s fine. But not me."

While musicians ranging from Tony Bennett and Miles Davis to Jerry Garcia and Joni Mitchell have pursued painting along with their music careers, Slick says she functions best doing one thing at a time.

  Jimi Hendrix "Kiss the Sky" by Grace Slick

"I’m not a good multitasker," she said. "Garcia used to take his paints on the road, but I’m singularly oriented: one man, one car, one child, one career at a time. Even my paintings are usually of just one thing, though I’ve been trying to push myself beyond that lately. But I have to be creative. I get goofy when I don’t have an outlet."

Slick’s art is both surprising and expected. Her psychedelic "Alice in Wonderland" series is a colorful continuation of the LSD-soaked story line from the Airplane’s ’60s hit "White Rabbit." What’s with the 40-year fascination?

"It’s a striking story," Slick said. "Lewis Carroll was making a political statement when he wrote it, which I liked, but it also goes against the grain of the standard girl-gets-saved-by-a-prince fairy tale.

"Alice’s journey is about satisfying curiosity and making your own way. She goes down a rabbit hole, which is a daring move to begin with. Meanwhile the rabbit is always running ahead of her, and she’s chasing after it with no clue as to what lies ahead. To me it says that nobody’s going to save your ass. Your destiny is up to you."

A softer, gentler side of Slick also comes through her art, which challenges her reputation as a sarcastic, politically outspoken leader of the Woodstock generation.

"I may’ve come across that way then," Slick said, "but life is much more hideous now, so I feel a responsibility to portray pleasantries. Currently I’m working on a montage of images from the Monterey Pop Festival. It was truly a beautiful event. I feel like people need to be reminded of what we can be when we’re not letting fear govern our behavior. What better way to show that, to recall something positive that actually happened."

Slick, who stopped her hard-partying ways years ago, says that aside from some minor physical ailments, she’s holding up well.

"I’m OK for 67. Being old is a pain in the ass, but I’m glad I’m not drunk all the time. Old people are pathetic enough. It would behoove us not to be sappy and sloppy.

"In the end it’s not what I did that I regret so much as what I didn’t do. For instance, I didn’t (have sex with) Jimi Hendrix or Peter O’Toole while I had the chance. And I never learned to ride a horse."

 
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