Amazing Grace
Lead singer of Jefferson Airplane displays artwork in Fort Lauderdale gallery
 

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Corey Siggins

Rebel. Poet. Feminist. Pioneer. These are just some of the many words that have often been used to describe the different facets that Grace Slick possesses.

Slick, best known as being the leader of the famed '60s group the Jefferson Airplane, has been noted for establishing diverse paths of self-expression and freedom through her music. Her ability to convey a wide range of emotions within the framework of a song has made her one of the most listened to women rockers for the last 30 years.

Currently, Slick is showcasing her bottomless talent and energy in another medium-that of the visual arts. For the past four years, she has been devoting her time exclusively to creating a series of paintings and drawings that touch on certain subjects.

 

"To me, painting and drawing are very much like meditation," Slick said in a recent telephone interview. "It's an absolute focus when I do them. I'm just taken away from whatever's irrelevant in the first place."

Now South Florida residents have the chance to witness the boundless imagination apparent in Slick's artwork within the realm of a new exhibit arriving soon, sponsored by the California based Area gallery, is open for visitors this coming weekend, Jan. 28 through Jan. 30. The exhibit is being held at the gallery's showcase building, located in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

According to Scott Hann, curator for the gallery, the 30 piece exhibit represents a very special opportunity for the public at large.

"This will be the first time that Grace's work is being put on display for the public," he said. "I'm very excited when I when I think about how people will be seeing a totally different side of her through her art."

For Slick, the act of drawing and painting is nothing new. As a child, she often retreated to her room to work on an easel for hours on end, creating numerous pictures of animals and people. She would also frequent local museums to study works by the masters.

"I have to admit, I was a little selective when it came to my admiration for the paintings I would see in museums. For instance, I was never too interested in the classical works," she said. "Even though I was slightly inspired from the artists of yesteryear; I feel I ultimately have my own style."

Slick also gained experience as an artist while she was still in the music industry. Occasionally, she would design the covers for various albums, including a solo album that she put out in the '70s. She also shared her skills with a pad and pencil by drawing little cartoons that would be published in assorted magazines.

After putting aside painting and drawing for a long period of time, she went back to concentrating on her artwork four years ago. This came about as the result of personal problems that she had recently been afflicted with.

"It was so cathartic to put so much time into my artwork," she said. "It helped me to focus my mind on better things."

These days, Slick spends approximately 16 hours a day painting and drawing in her house located in Malibu, California. She hardly takes a break from this schedule, preferring instead to devote almost every waking minute to her work.

Her paintings and sketches usually center on two distinct subjects: animals and people. She rarely uses landscapes in her pictures, unless animals and people are prominently featured in the foreground.

According to Slick, these subjects are portrayed in a variety of ways that do not speak to one certain style.

"I sometimes incorporate an abstract style in my work, and sometimes I might make everything look more natural. Other times, I might adopt the form of an elaborate cartoon," she said. "I believe the subject demands the style and not the other way around."

When it comes to the animals placed in her work, one stands out in particular. The White Rabbit, first spoken about in the Jefferson Airplane song of the same name, has become a signature part of her drawings and paintings, appearing in different poses and locations.

The people that are sketched by Slick mostly consist of the famous musicians and spokespeople that figured heavily in the '60s, many of whom Slick knew personally.

These include Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Timothy Leary and Jimi Hendrix, who holds a special fascination for Slick; 10 of her drawings are dominated by Hendrix's presence.

"Whenever I draw one of these people, I try to convey the emotions I felt whenever I was around them. Hopefully people will get that sense when they look at these pictures," she said.

Slick originally had no intention of having her artwork displayed to a mass audience, outside of having some of her pieces sold at a friend's art store in California. Hann, who contacted Slick through mutual friends, convinced her that an exhibit could be extremely worthwhile.

"I've always enjoyed Grace's music over the years. She's a real force," he said. "The gallery has had success with our exhibit spotlighting the artwork of Miles Davis and Jerry Garcia, and I thought Grace's work would fit nicely with the rest. She was very receptive to the idea."

The exhibit features about 30 original pieces of Slick's work, including drawings, paintings and lithographs. Signed limited editions are also set to be on display. All of these are available for viewing and purchase except for two lithographs that had previously been sold.

For Slick, the act of drawing and painting has proven to be a positive element in her life. It is something that she looks forward to everyday.

"I truly create art for the sheer love of it and I do it for myself," she said. "If an audience can appreciate the work as well, that's certainly a plus."

 

 
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