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Jerry Garcia — the rockstar who made artwork of note

August 9, On This Day


Anyone who is a fan of the classic rock genre of music is acquainted with the American band The Grateful Dead, formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. The band was even inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, and many recognise principal songwriter, band lead guitarist and vocalist Jerry Garcia as something of a de facto band leader.
What is interesting is that Garcia’s talents went beyond rocking the stage. It emerges that Garcia was nearly as prolific an artist as a musician.
Garcia was born on August 1, 1942, in San Francisco and after a long struggle with diabetes and drug addiction, died on August 9, 1995, in Forest Knolls, CA from a heart attack at the age of 53.
He had started playing music and made artwork starting at a young age. He reportedly attended classes at the San Francisco Art Institute as a child and went on to produce more than 2,000 pieces of visual art in his lifetime.
It is said: “Garcia maintained a painting practice characterized by a playful energy and a palette of intensely bright colors. His work often depicts people, animals, landscapes, and psychedelic abstractions, influenced by his widespread touring and exposure to international countercultural movements.”

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After a serious car accident in 1961, the artist decided to focus entirely on music and would not pursue visual art again until the late 1980s. During that time, he began producing a variety of watercolors, ink drawings, and computer-based artworks. Today, the majority of his art is held by Weir Gallery in Berkeley, California.
Artist Roberta Weir (no relation to Grateful Dead member Bob Weir), who manages the Garcia Weir Gallery that has an extensive collection of the late artist\’s works, has said, “In the watercolors, buoyant shapes and saturated colors infuse sky, earth and water. The nature pictures have a welcoming richness and generosity of spirit. Organic and crystalline structures are rendered in spectral colors…. Jerry is often at his best in ink paintings — his brush laying down short, animated strokes. The immediacy of ink suited his nature; he enjoyed the bold play of an unforgiving medium that allows no corrections. Serendipitous, automatic, uninhibited, playful or gloomy, some of his most effective work is in ink. He said, ‘A line on paper is like a note in the air,’ and once a mark is made, it can no more be erased than a note, once sounded, can be taken back.”
According to her, Garcia had great respect for the artists who had influenced him — Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Klee, Vincent van Gogh, the Expressionists.

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