Thursday, June 08, 2006

Jerry's Art

From The Republican:

Exhibit to display the art of Jerry Garcia

By RONNI GORDON
rgordon@repub.com

Jerry Garcia was known for expressing his creativity with a guitar pick, but he also had a way with pencil and paint brush.

Songwriter, lead guitarist and vocalist for the Grateful Dead - and, of course, cult figure - Garcia went to art school before becoming a central figure in the San Francisco music scene in the 1960s. While on tour, he carried a sketchbook, and continually created in many media.
His artwork is for sale in a nationally traveling exhibition, "Jerry Garcia/A Visual Journey," which will be on view Saturday and Sunday at the Sheraton Springfield. It's a return visit for the exhibit, previously seen in Springfield in 2001.


The exhibit includes two original watercolors and about 50 lithographs and silk-screens created by Garcia from 1985 until his death in 1995. It was organized by Philadelphia-based Image Makers Art, which also presents artwork by other musicians and actors. Having acquired a large number of Garcia's pieces in 1992, Image Makers boasts one of the largest collections of his work.

"He specialized in impressionistic, whimsical, colorful drawings, lightly sketched," said John Sozanski, the organization's president.

Sozanski said Garcia's vivid imagination and improvisation come through clearly in his art. "He has a unique style, a distinctive line," Sozanski said. "His art is vibrant. It speaks to people."
Prices for the lithographs, silk-screens and etchings range from $500 to $7,000. The watercolors, "Butterfly Trap" and "Wild Turkey," cost $70,000 and $29,000 respectively, according to Sozanski.


A musical theme runs through many pieces, such as the popular sketch "Garcia/Grisman," showing him performing with mandolin player David Grisman. He did landscapes, street scenes, abstracts and cartoonish depictions of dragons, vampires, politicians and himself.

Garcia's early interest in art was sparked by a third grade teacher who recognized his talent and encouraged him to develop it. Starting in high school, he took courses at the California School of Fine Arts, which later became the San Francisco Art Institute. He continued studying there until 1959, when his artwork took a back seat to his music.

In 1986, he lapsed into a five-day diabetic coma. During his recovery, he began painting and drawing again. A piece from this time period, "Blue Iceberg," is among the lithographs for sale.
Garcia died in 1995 at age 53, after suffering a heart attack.


Sozanski said some of the pieces are selling out. "This is one of the last opportunities to see the full show of Jerry's art. Next time we won't have such a large show," he said.

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