Musicians put down the microphones and take up the brush      
Jerry Garcia by Grace Slick on Las Vagas Weekly  

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Molly Brown

"Go ahead. Ask me anything."

Those are the dream words every journalist wants to hear. But once uttered straight out of music icon Grace Slick's mouth, it's nothing short of intimidating. After all, this woman was there when all the important stuff was going down in the '60s. She hung with Jimi.

She hung with Janis. She hung with Jerry. She was the front woman of Jefferson Airplane-one of the decade's premiere rock groups.

"Then it wasn't strange," says Slick. I wasn't aware of a boys' club thing. Women have always been singers.

Everything was so flipped over from the '50s, and we were enjoying flipping it over."

"I wanted it all-a child, drugs, boyfriends, sex-and I did it all."

Slick has lived a life most people only fantasize about. At 62, she peaks freely about her past-the drugs, the drinking, the scene. She says when you get old you “don’t regret what you did. You regret what you didn’t do.”

Her regrets?

“That I didn’t nail Jimi Hendrix or Peter O’Toole,” she deadpans without hesitation.

Slick’s rock ‘n’ roll tales of debauchery would seem destined for some VH1 marathon-or to be forever buried in the annals of rock history. Except for one thing. She has tackled a new medium-painting-that’s once again brought her back into contemporary culture.

Janis Joplin by Grace Slick  

The former Jefferson Airplane lead singer, along with several other musicians including Paul McCartney and Gene Simmons, have discovered that picking up a brush can be another effective outlet for their creativity. Slick’s one of the many musician/artists who will be displaying works at the new Art of Music Project in the Forum Shops at Caesars, which opens Nov. 16.

Art isn’t anything new to Slick, though. She drew and painted as a child, but put it aside when she pursued music with the Jefferson Airplane, which later formed into Jefferson Starship. However, in ’95 she picked up drawing again. Her subjects-mostly animals-might seem a little too cuddly for the black eye-lined rocker’s former image, but she gravitates toward them all the same.

“I’d just broken up with a guy who was beautiful, talented and I liked him a lot,” Slick says about the event that triggered her artistic side again.

“but he was a bipolar and wouldn’t take his meds so he’d get violent. I sent him home and focused on the animals that make me happy.”

It’s animals nature-the not having problems vs. humans being general messes-that first appealed to Slick. At the time, she was finding refuge in a country house where about 40 raccoons would come up every day. She'd feed them eggs and Oreos ("They eat them just like us. They open the cookie and eat the white stuff") and was amazed at their simplicity and honesty. In her words, "I learned a lot from animals, like how to live without doing too much human stuff."

Bob Marly by Grace Slick  

Naturally, when she decided to paint and sketch, these images became the subject matter. Her paintings abound with creatures-one of the more popular ones being a panda wearing a bow tie.The description she gives it goes, "Simple, balanced and smiling, this being is at peace." When asked what animals she likes drawing best, she answers, pandas, raccoons and bears-"They have very dark eye makeup. Like me."

Of course, the most famous and repeated animal image in Slick's work is the infamous white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. Fans of Slick should not be surprised. After all, the "White Rabbit" first made its appearance as a major hit for Jefferson Airplane in 1967. The song Slick brought to the band's palette was drenched with references to drug-taking and Alice in Wonderland.

"White Rabbit" was directed at parents," says Slick of the song. "All the stories they read to us all involved drugs. Peter Pan was sprinkling magic powder that's make them fly, the caterpillar was sitting on a mushroom smoking opium. The message was that chemicals would take you on a nifty adventure, as they (parents) were sitting there with a glass of Scotch, one of the worst, hardest, most damaging drugs available. That's why I was so annoyed."

But another character from Lewis Carroll's famous children's book also plays into Slick's work often-Alice herself. And in the artwork, like the book, Alice appears innocent, inquisitive and impulsive. Although the other characters in Slick's "Wonderland" paintings usually take on people she knows-like in "White Rabbit in Wonderland," where Lennon and McCartney are Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum,

 
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