Las Vegas Sun Logo Concert Draw: Wood more
then just a musical artist
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By Spencer Paterson

Throughout their 2002 40th anniversary tour, the Rolling Stones have performed massive stadium concerts, medium-sized arena shows and small club dates.

And, in selected cities along the way, guitarist Ron wood has taken it one step farther, hosting small one-man shows in the most intimate of venues

Wood hasn’t been staging solo musical ventures, however. Instead, the 55 year-old has taken time out from his band’s busy schedule to show off his other career: one of the rock worlds foremost visual artists.

Since the early 1980’s Wood has been Moonlighting – drawing, painting and printmaking by day and wielding his guitar by night.
  Ronnie II by Ronnie Wood
 
Wood and the Stones are in Las Vegas for two shows on their 40th anniversary tour, tonight at MGM Grand Garden Arena and Saturday at The Joint inside the hard Rock Hotel

Wednesday night, Wood arrived at Entertainment Galleries at the Venetian’s Grand Canal shoppes to thunderous applause, host of his latest one-man art exhibition.

“I go through different times of inspiration,” Wood said in a telephone interview from a Las Vegas hotel room earlier in the day. “Sometimes I shelve the art work and just concentrate on the music, and there other times the art gets such a powerful influence on me that I have to start painting again.”

Wood was a serious artist even before his career in music began. He attended London’s Ealing College of Art and even worked briefly as a commercial artist prior to joining the Jeff Beck Group in 1967.

Music Took precedence from there, however, and continued to take up most of his time after he and Rod Stewart left Beck to form the Faces in 1969. Wood became a fulltime member of the Rolling Stones in 1976.

“I never really lost touch with my drawing and painting.” Wood said, while explaining that he began to practice his craft more frequently in the 1980’s “it was a talent I was born with so I thought I may as well exploit it. ”(Music and art) both go pretty much hand and hand. Even though they’re two different forms of expression.”

Similar to his musical endeavors with the Stones, Wood’s appearance at Entertainment Galleries was recieved with a certain level of fanaticism. With a line of paparazzi and a throng of curious onlookers milling out side.

Even in the apparent safe haven of the invitation-only affair, he found himself surrounded by autograph seekers, all hoping for some brief face time with their hero before he escaped to a private room near the back with relatives and close friends.

Music in art

Though he depicts a variety of subjects Wood’s most well-known works of art are his celebrity portraits, most notably those of famous musicians, including Stones mates Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts: Bob Dylan, former Who drummer Keith Moon and self portraits.

Wood has also portrayed his wife, Josephine, boxer Muhammad Ali and filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock..

One of Wood’s signature pieces, an 83-inch by 60-inch original painting from the mid 1980’s titled “stones in Sepia,” carries a $210,000 tag.

But not all pieces are big-ticket items. Wood offers art for collectors at a wide range of prices, with limited –edition prints from $200-$7,000. Originals start at around $25,000.

Wood said his own fame and experience as a musician affords him a unique perspective when depicting others in his field.

“There is a certain something that they convey to me that maybe they wouldn’t convey to anyone (else),” Wood said.

That much was evident Wednesday night. With the gallery’s walls adorned with stark black-and-white renderings of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts during some of the band’s private offstage moments, along with more abstract images, such as “sympathy for the Devil,” a vied likeness of Mick Jagger performing on stage.

Keith’s always on hand, and he’s always very interesting to do. Mick has got a difficult face to draw, and I like a challenge. And Charlie is cool, as well, to paint,” Wood said.

Wood employs a variety of methods to capture his subjects, drawing and painting them up-close when possible and – particularly in the case of deceased musicians such as Keith Moon, Jim Morrison and Buddy Holly – working from photographs and personal memories.

And then there are Wood’s legendary late-night sessions, during which he springs out of bed to capture his most recent thoughts on paper.

I carry these water-soluble crayons with me everywhere, on the road. You can use them as light pencils or as watercolors, “ Wood said. “I’ve had some good inspirations. The same happens with lyrics, and music, too.”

Wildlife awareness

In addition to his twin passions for music and art, Wood is also committed to the protection of endangered species. He regularly donates funds to ensure Kenya’s white rhinoceros population does not become extinct.

“I keep them under constant protection. Under guard. Those poachers don’t care if they kill the last one,” he said.

Not surprisingly, Wood has also devoted his artistic energy toward the cause.

“I’ve got a stack of endangered species (pieces) that I’ve been building up over the years. In fact, I was going to make a series of postage stamps out of them at one point. I still may do that,” Wood said.

“I’ve been trying to track down where a lot of them are, I think they’re all back in London. So I’m going to get onto that when we get back.”

Also in Wood’s plans when the Stones finish touring next year: continued work on his largest piece to date.

“I’ve got this massive great mural that I’m working on. It’s 18 feet by 5 of all the people that frequent this restaurant called the Ivy in London,” Wood said “People from the stage and screen and fashion and politics, 60 different subjects, all that I’ve sketched and done previous drawings of. Now I’m putting them into the big picture.”

And when that’s completed, Wood’s next project may take on a very familiar look to Las Vegas residents.

“I’m open to all kinds of different subject matter. Each day I see something else,” Wood said. “the view from my Hotel Window in Vegas here, that’s going to be a good one. Pretty outrageous.”

A Self-Portrait by Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood is among the work on display and for sal at Entertainment Galleries at the Venetion’s gran

 
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