Originally a rock and roll legend of the 1960s, '70s and '80s, Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane traded in her microphone for a paintbrush, professionally dabbling in the art world for 15 years. Her original art will be on display and available for purchase at the Shops of Third Street South, Naples, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 4 to 6.
"I've been professionally painting and showing my work at galleries for over 15 years," the rock queen stated, during a recent one-on-one interview. "I've developed a rare condition with my feet I must stay in a cool setting so they don't swell. So, I can no longer fly out to be at all the shows. But, I can still paint."
Many of Grace's pieces, such as her lyrics with Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, involve characters from Alice in Wonderland, whether it's the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen, or Alice, herself. The artist explains her fascination.
"I feel that I live in the same life Alice did," Grace said. "She, of course, was brought up in the Victorian era, which was very strict, as were the 1950s. Women wore aprons, Ozzie and Harriet Going into the 1960s, it was a whole other deal. Nobody saves Alice she has to save herself there is no Prince Charming. She may cry, she may have trouble, but she doesn't crack up and she keeps on going."
Speaking of Alice in Wonderland, during our interview, Grace and I tackled the rumor that "White Rabbit" was written in less than an hour.
"Oh, yes," she said. "It took me about a half-hour, 45 minutes, and I wrote it on an old and at the time it was old spinet piano, with eight keys missing."
Along with several pieces on Alice In Wonderland, Grace also incorporates many rock and roll legends in her designs Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Mama Cass, Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Jim Morrison and more.
"Actually, that was my agent's idea, but I really enjoy doing it," she stated. "I like doing it because it's interesting and it allows me to adjust to other ideas. I've been so lucky to be able to professionally do things I love doing my whole life my singing, my painting."
While creating art, Grace said she often slips into her own artistic world.
"I certainly use artistic license," she said. "Currently, I'm working on a piece with Jesus and St. Mary Magdalene in the Garden of St. Joseph Arimathea. I only work on one piece at a time. I'm not a great multi-tasker. The next piece, it might come off of a children's tale, it may come off of CNN, I never know what it will be."
Her favorite media to work with is acrylic and scratch-board, which is a reverse way of creating art, something that caught Grace's eye from the get-go.
"It's unique and not many artists are working in it," she said. "It really takes a long time and a lot of repetitiveness. It's the reverse of normal painting and it's totally ass backwards."
Aside from her art, Grace still writes some lyrics from time to time, often helping out a good friend who may experience an occasional writer's block (Check out "Edge of Madness," created by Grace and her friend, which benefits those affected by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans). She discusses her view of the music industry nowadays, and where it's gone since she was on the road.
"I feel about it the same way I did 40 or 50 years ago like any job, there are people who are really good at it, people who are mediocre and people who just suck. That's the way people are. Some are good at what they do, some aren't. Some, you're amazed they still have a job," she said. "There's more technology involved, which is good. I remember we were playing with The Who we were on after them because we'd alternate who was headlining each night. I was watching them, went in the audience. Roger Daltry actually kicked the monitors off the stage because, back then, they were so funky and hard to control the sound guy would have trouble making it easy for the singer to hear. Now, with the technology, you have headsets, everything's clear. It's great. We just keep progressing."
When it comes to town this weekend, Grace's art exhibit will be benefitting the local Harry Chapin Food Bank.
"It's a great way to help out," she said. "Everyone's hurting now. I've been very lucky, very grateful all my life, the two major jobs of my life, rock and roll and painting, I've never felt like I'm working."
A $2 donation is suggested at the gallery doors during Grace's exhibit, all of which will be going to the local Harry Chapin Food Bank.
"Grace is very unique and very talented. I'm excited to display her work. There will be a ton of originals and the majority will be available for purchase," said Rudy Siegel, traveling exhibit coordinator, who was also behind the scenes of Yoko Ono's "Love" exhibit, the artwork of John Lennon.
Gallery hours for Grace Slick will be Friday, Feb. 4, from 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 5, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 6, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information on the upcoming traveling exhibit, or to see many of Grace's original pieces, visit AreaArts.com.