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Kathy Strong

For the last five years, Jefferson Airplane/Starship's Grace Slick, the ultimate wild child of the 60's, has been communicating her passionate view of life through a paintbrush rather than a microphone.

Grace Slick  

Saturday night, fans, friends and collectors-who have long-since traded their love beads and headbands for designer couture-gathered at Galerie vendome on El Paseo to pay homage to the uninhibited queen of psychedelic rock and her newest creative passion-art.

Proving there is more to social life in the Valley than 19th hole parties for the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic was the enthusiastic and nostalgic crowd at the gallery last night.

Among others seen sipping champagne and partaking of French pastries was Mickey Thomas of the Airplane's reinvented band, Starship. Thomas and his family recently moved to rancho Mirage.

Slick, who left music a decade ago, firmly believes that rock performers who get up on stage after age 60 "look dorky."

The exhibit at Galerie Vendome, a departure from the gallery's more traditional art showings, illustrates the fact that Slick may have left music but has not stopped expressing her strong, personal opinions; she has just found another venue.

Grace Slick at Art Opening  

Her art, which ranges from scratchboard etchings to acrylic or a gutsy mixed medium of both, is at once whimsical and moving.

Slick, her long black hair now short and as white as the hare she loves to portray, finds her passion in painting the things she loves-animals, her friends (who just happen to be famous rock legends), and a myriad of "Alice in Wonderland"-inspired creations.

Lacking pretension, Slick explained her personal obsession with the Wonderland theme: "I was born in the year of the rabbit; the man next door raised white rabbits which I loved to play with; and 'Alice in Wonderland' was my favorite heroine story because it was more interesting than the ones that involved a man rescuing a woman."

Indeed, her life has turned out a little more like Alice's. "Going from the 50s to the 60s growing up was like Alice going down the rabbit hole," Slick said.

"There is no Prince Charming to rescue you-you only have yourself … you take yourself with you.

"The white rabbit is a symbol of curiosity … of discovery," Galerie Vendome associate Dana Yarger said. "Great art comes from people who have honest opinions."

There is no doubt in circulating the art-lined walls that Slick's work is honest, personal, and, like Slick, at all times passionate.

One of the most collectible of the pieces is a self-portrait, "1965," that shows rabbit "Grace" seated at the piano composing and playing her famous song/composition for the Jefferson Airplane, "White Rabbit."

The work is an interesting and colorful mixed medium of acrylic and scratchboard.
Slick's first artwork, a scratchboard of a raccoon (she admits she once owned about 40 live raccoons) that the rock icon created with a safety pin, is for sale at the gallery as well.

Slick, who was self-taught as a musician and now as an artist, recalls finding her expression in the art world after a painful relationship breakup.

"I started drawing animals because they make me happy," she said. Grace's furry friends only lined the walls of her home until one day her book agent suggested she turn her passion into a career.

Slick added portraits of rock legends to her portfolio and incorporated some of these images into her book, "Somebody to Love."

Galerie Vendome owners Bob and Joan Zane are premiering Slick's newest art collection in this special showing, The Icon Series.

Slick not only takes us down the rabbit hole with her in-your-face pop art wonderland series, she also demonstrates her loving interpretation of friends who, Yarger says, "just happen to be famous music legends," including Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and Miles Davis. "Garcia Black & White" is one of Slick's favorites. She explains, "(He had) an open and generous spirit-a wise man in chaos." In contrast, there are several nude line drawings that have been compared to the masterful simplicity reminiscent of a Matisse or Picasso.

Although some of Slick's works sell for as much as $20,000, the collection ranges from prints that begin at $500. Observing the art show guests "falling down Slick's rabbit hole" of '60s nostalgia, Galerie Vendome's Yarger pointed out, "People are here to buy back their own memories."

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