I was recently surprised to learn that Jerry Garcia drew with Prismacolor Pencils. Yes, that’s Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead! In addition to my own love of art and drawing, I am a Deadhead! When I’m not drawing, I spend my time playing the mandolin to Grateful Dead music, the Beatles, and other musicians, primarily from the the 1960s. While doing some Internet surfing, I came across the Weir Gallery, which has a sizable collection of Jerry Garcia art. While reading about Jerry, I noticed that the gallery owner, Roberta Weir, represented Jerry. The Weir Gallery is located in Berkeley, California and is considered the foremost expert in Jerry’s work and signature. Roberta Weir assisted Jerry in every aspect of his visual art, from drawing sessions to etching instruction, creating editions and designing his exhibits. In addition to Jerry, the Weir Gallery also represents Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. Jerry and Mickey are not alone as musicians who also are visual artists. John Lennon went to art school as Jerry did, but chose a music career over art.
I can relate to this, even after earning two degrees in art and currently taking classes at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where I am studying classical figurative drawing. I also have a musical background, learning piano and then the violin as a child. As a teen I took voice lessons, played music publicly, and took up the mandolin earlier this year. The mandolin is strung as a violin – G, D, A, E. I find playing music a big energy booster, something I need to relieve the tension I get from drawing. Don’t get me wrong – I love to draw, but my classes and homework is very intense and at times becomes stressful.
According to Roberta Weir, “Although Jerry was constantly performing, he never stopped drawing and painting. He was very prolific and has produced in his lifetime over two thousand original works. He was an insomniac, and even after long nights on exhausting tours he stayed up at night drawing and painting, and drinking orange soda. He was also interested in the art of our time and had collected the work of various artists. Jerry’s drawings are a like a tour of his head uncensored and unrestrained, for his art was like his music, as he said “A line on paper is like a note in the air; it’s out there and you can’t take it back,” and he never did, never retraced his steps or corrected a stroke. It was his general philosophy that you don’t look back; and since Jerry did not write an autobiography, these drawings are the closest we can come to seeing the inner workings of a kaleidoscopic mind. Jerry enjoyed the tools of art and used the best Schmincke watercolors, and Prismacolor Pencils, and most of the work is fully archival.”
“Prices on the originals have been steady with sales of originals bringing as much as $100,000 for a single important piece. Jerry painted strictly for his own pleasure and amusement, was a bit shy about his work and somewhat surprised when it began to sell; and very…well…grateful– that others valued it enough to purchase it. He came to the art openings to meet fans, and enjoyed his second career immensely. He kept a playful approach to his work. There are four or five themes or categories in the work – characters and oddballs, including an assortment of aliens, landscapes real and imaginary, stream of consciousness drawings and animals, including an assortment of bugs, bees, and butterflies. As Jerry was growing up the image of the artist was as an intuitive philosopher and interpreter of the times; a seer. ” Drawing from the Weir Gallery archive.
“Jerry Garcia Drew With Prismacolor Pencils” was written by Brenne Meirowitz, BA, MA, MS.
©2011 Brenne Meirowitz. All Rights Reserved.