If you went looking for white rabbits while standing on the corner of Haight and Asbury a few short decades ago, your looking glass might have actually been small and round and purple-tinted. Today, the presentation has changed, but Grace Slick is pointing out to us the hookah smoking caterpillars in the world. And sometimes they look like caterpillars – sometimes they look like Jerry Garcia.
This past weekend at Wentworth Gallery in one of Chicago's northern suburbs, Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, and Starship vocalist, Grace Slick showed her work and met with art buyers and enthusiasts.
With a diverse array of mediums and styles, Slick's pieces vary from figure drawings - to paintings and sketches of rock and roll royalty such as Jimi Hendrix, Roger Daltrey, Janis Jopin, and Jerry Garcia (lots of Jerry Garcia), to name but a few - and her Alice In Wonderland inspired art.
While taking in Grace Slick's art one almost needs to remind themselves that the gifted artist who created these pieces is also a music and rock and roll legend. Slick walked into the gallery clad in hoop earrings encircling little white rabbits, and greeted gallery attendants with a husky-voiced, "Good morning! Good afternoon – whatever it is."
Though Slick might not have much to do with the music industry any longer, her paintings and sketches prove that truly artistic people will continue to be creative if but in different ways. "I'm going to run out of time before I run out of ideas," commented Slick, now 68-years old, to a buyer of one of her paintings.
"It's really a wonderful thing that someone known strictly as a rock icon can have an entirely new creative outlet and be successful at it," commented Wentworth Gallery Director, Mindy Tiberi, about Slick's art.
The Wentworth Gallery in Schaumburg, Illinois was beautifully lit up with Slick's passionately vivid colors – particularly on her 'white rabbit' paintings – that seemed to reach out from the canvas and captivate viewer's attention without easily letting go. Slick's white rabbit is captured in various forms of activity, from playing the piano to reading the book Alice In Wonderland, from sitting Billy Joel "Pressure"-video style in front of a record player, and to, of course, gallivanting around with 'Alice.' One painting in particular combined Alice and the white rabbit with some of the great musicians Slick has painted over the years – and set at a music festival with booths set up in the background selling beads, hookahs and the like. Her pieces range in price from $1,295 to $16,595.
My favorite piece of Slick's was her " Cheshire Cat" – the most maniacal looking cat I've ever seen. And the views of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge in some of her works very much made me miss the city I've been lucky to visit on a few different occasions.
The musical portraits Slick has captured transport viewers back into a more psychedelic time, and include members of The Who and The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Mick Jaggar, Sting, Joni Mitchell, and legendary music promoter Bill Graham. A stunning pencil drawing of Jim Morrison of The Doors entitled "Pretty Boy" was hanged with the following commentary by Slick: "And he was – is – a beauty. I think his extraordinary appearance got in his way – a dark path of discovery. I drew the perfect boy, something he never was."
"What's unique here is that Grace is really diverse in her artistic styles. Though she sticks to the three aforementioned subjects, she depicts them in countless painting and drawing techniques. Be it very controlled and intricate scratch board work or very expressive painterly brush work, her range is vast," says Tiberi.
Wentworth Gallery, whose more than 30 retail galleries spanning the US in 12 different states and also offer 'home show' service where they'll bring up to twenty pieces of their art to your home, is no stranger to rock stars. Throughout this year nationwide, Wentworth has hosted KISS front-man Paul Stanley's work, and is tentatively looking to bring in Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac fame, to showcase her work as well.
"Paul Stanley has a very strong fan base. His fans may start out wanting a piece of his art just because they are KISS fans but they quickly realize that his art offers them a whole other dimension of his creativity and they start collecting and are thrilled with the work he produces. We've also had non-KISS fans who have no idea who Paul Stanley is and they see the work hanging at Wentworth Gallery and love it and buy it," said Tiberi when asked about Paul Stanley's show at Wentworth Gallery. She went on to say: "Paul is very devoted to his fans. He came in right on time and stayed until he met with everyone who acquired one of his paintings or prints. I don't think he even took a break. He signed personal dedications for the art that was selected and posed for photos and everyone had a blast."
"Having musician/artists seems to be a new trend at Wentworth Gallery," explained Tiberi, "The events are tremendously popular and seem to expose music fans of particular artists to a visual arena that they may have not experienced previously. We welcome everyone to Wentworth whether it's their first time in an art gallery or if they are seasoned gallery visitors."
When asked what her personal views were on purchasing art, Tiberi had this to say: "That's a very big question. I see art as a necessity for those who feel to create it and those who want to be surrounded by it. Art does feed the soul and enriches people's lives. Once you start collecting art, you find it changes your life for the better. Try surrounding yourself with what you love and you can't help but feel better for it. At Wentworth Gallery, we do everything possible to make art accessible to the public. From the large inventory that we offer, the reasonable prices and our home viewing policy along with free delivery and installation, we do make every attempt to make acquiring art a very do-able thing."
For fun, UnRated Magazine asked Tiberi if there were any artists no longer alive that she would have liked to have showcased at Wentworth Gallery. "Wow, what a fun fantasy to indulge in... since it's my fantasy, I'd have to say, there are several artists who I'd invite: Of course Picasso, DaVinci, Georgia O'Keefe, Marc Chagall, Matisse, Van Gogh and then more contemporary artists like Andy Warhol and Keith Harring. It would be quite a party! My reasons vary for each but the common thing is I truly admire their work and would want them to know how it impacted me and others. Especially someone like Van Gogh who died penniless, not knowing that his work was appreciated -and today is worth millions!"
The Chicago-area Wentworth Gallery is located in Schaumburg within the Woodfield Shopping Center. The gallery can be reached at: 847-995-1190. Hours of business: Monday through Friday 10am-9pm, Saturday from 10:00am-9:00pm, and on Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm.