The white rabbit of rock
Grace Slick, former psychedelic-rock star of the ’60s, didn’t replace her microphone with a paintbrush. She stopped singing because she doesn’t like “old people on the stage.” She started to paint since she found a new and equally challenging form of expression in art.
Slick is visiting Masters Gallery in Vail Village to show her artwork today and Saturday from1-4 and 6-9 p.m.
Born in 1939 in Chicago, Ill., Slick inherited artistic interests from her mother who had been an actress and singer in the early ’30s.
She is best known as co-lead vocalist of Jefferson Airplane and its later incarnations, Jefferson Starship and Starship. She last performed with the ensemble in 1989. Even though she retreated from the stage for good, her art is a continuation of her rock ‘n’ roll communication. In her early years, she would dance topless in the rain since she didn’t want to ruin her silk blouse. She didn’t hesitate to threaten to spike President Nixon’s tea with LSD so that he would “see the truth.” These days she creates art which is very like rock ‘n’ roll – simple, yet rebellious.
“My art carries simple pieces of information,” she said. “It isn’t complicated and precious in the sense of what standards New York critics and gallery owners have. I just say things and hope that people will understand them.”
Slick claims painting is her way of being creative.
“Everybody creates,” she said. “You can be creative in anything you do. I even know creative accountants.”
She describes her painting style as “inspired by movie animators” and treats her creations equally.
“(My) Favorite is what I am working on right now,” she said. “At the moment, I am painting a female surfer who is waxing her surfboard.”
Some of her works are raw and energetic. Others detailed and warm.
The portraits of the rock stars whom she knew in the ’60s, like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix or Jerry Garcia, are very personal. They convey musicians’ powerful personalities. Her nudes, painted with black ink on white paper, seem to be subtle and scanty. Her animals, on the other hand, are fluffy and detailed – almost radiant with the love and good feelings that Slick has for these creatures.
Nevertheless, they all have one thing in common – they’re a mix of different sizes, styles and mediums, including oil, acrylic, pencil and ink.
“I don’t want to be cornered in anything,” she said. “I don’t want to impose a style on the subject. I want the subject to tell me what to use. It’s like with saying “I love you’ – you don’t say that with a demanding tone, but rather with the soft and pleasing one.”
Today’s exhibition of Slick’s artwork will feature “The Wonderful Suite,” a 10-piece collection of characters from “Alice in Wonderland.”
“The book lets children know that following your curiosity is an outstanding adventure,” said Slick. “It lets us all see the poignant silliness of adult organizations whether it’s a government, a chess game or a flower bed.
I identify with Alice. Besides, rock ‘n’ roll is like Wonderland.”
Additionally, Masters Gallery will showcase Slick’s portraits of rock stars, nudes, and two new pieces titled “Bar Code” and “Carrots.”
The journey down the rabbit hole starts at 1 p.m today in Masters Gallery in Vail Village.
For more information on the show call the gallery at 477-0600.