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See Jerry Garcia’s Most Astounding Paintings and Sketches

The work of the Grateful Dead guitarist moves from music-related watercolors to a portrait of Saddam Hussein

Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia

Henry Diltz/Corbis

Jerry Garcia was nearly as prolific an artist as he was a guitar player, attending classes at the San Francisco Art Institute as a kid and eventually producing over 2,000 pieces. For the first time ever, that work will be displayed in a museum setting, collected as part of a new exhibition, "Art in Pop," which runs through January 4th, 2015 at the Centre National d'art Contemporain le Magasin in Grenoble, France.

The art on display includes both concrete pencil images and watercolor abstractions: "How Fine," for instance, gets psychedelic, offering an out-there depiction of a face with an unusual eye. In "Big Bird," Garcia shows his sense of humor by sketching the beloved Sesame Street character opening the sky into the world of Mister Rogers.

In conjunction with the exhibit, Rolling Stone has compiled a gallery of the singer-songwriter's best pieces, with captions provided by his daughter Keelin, wife Manasha and Roberta Weir. More of his art – along with pieces from Weir and Mickey Hart – can be viewed at the Garcia Weir Gallery, the online home of the Weir Gallery, which showcased local artists in Berkeley, California from 1987 to 1995.

Jerry Garcia

Dracula’s Heart

"An ink and crayon drawing captures a bit of humanity in Dracula, whose red eyes burn more with sadness than evil, his heart dangling on a thin cord yet bright and beating."

Jerry Garcia

Carousel

"Jerry admired the carousel and made several drawings of it. This one, with its lively line work, was drawn after the Garcia family explored the city of Paris during the 1990 Grateful Dead European tour. The light mood is enhanced by a palette of soft colors."

Jerry Garcia

Big Bird

"Here we see the artist's sense of humor coming forward with an exaggerated depiction of the Sesame Street character Big Bird entering the reality of Mister Rogers' piano player. Jerry often enjoyed the morning children's shows with Keelin while the family toured with his bands or during quiet moments in their home in California."

Jerry Garcia

Sadaam

"Drawn with the brush and pen in black and sepia ink during the Gulf War. A sort of vapor rises upward through Sadaam's beret as he makes contact with his guides. A good example of Jerry's style, spontaneous and uncontrived."

Jerry Garcia

Sax Player

"Another drawing in brush and pen, this no doubt represents a particular musician and is sensitively done, communicating the affection that can be felt in so many of Jerry's depictions of fellow musicians. This beautifully articulated piece was drawn in the autumn of 1987 following a Sarah Vaughn concert at the Blue Note in New York City, which Jerry and Manasha attended with Clive Davis."

Jerry Garcia

Poet Reflects the War

"A portrait of Robert Hunter is seen at a brick window peering out into a lurid and haunted atmosphere. A form emerging from his head absorbs vibrations and static while subordinate imagery and faces float in the background."

Jerry Garcia

Space Containers That May or May Not Contain

"Ink and watercolor form cubistic forms in space. The open structures provide a sort of camouflage for an alien spaceman and a soft machine – spaceships and aliens are a frequent theme in Jerry's drawings."

Jerry Garcia

Northern Lights

"This piece was created during the 1990 European tour after Jerry and Manasha saw the Northern Lights through a window aboard a plane on an overnight flight to Stockholm, Sweden."

Jerry Garcia

Volcano

"Ink and watercolor in descending waves of hot color against a background of lush vegetation – a volcano in Hawaii. Ambiguous shapes in the ink lines recall his drawings of animals and faces that are often hidden within the main subject."

Jerry Garcia

Paris in the Rain

"A figure walks in the rain along a Paris street painted in liquid colors of blue and black that puddle and run together. Jerry created the work during the 1990 trip to Paris with his family."

Jerry Garcia

How Fine

"One of six etchings created in 1991. The title derives from the writing seen on the left of the print. The face contains a skeleton jester's head as the eye and a number of letter-shaped forms, some scribbled over and some remaining to spell the title."

Jerry Garcia

Flamenco Dancers

"Dashing lines reflect Jerry's sense of the drama of Flamenco music – the dancer's flame-like body, red dress and flying hair. A few lines suggest the architecture and walls full of bullfight posters."

Jerry Garcia

Race Record Dream

"A representation of a dream that Jerry had in which he and John Kahn played with Robert Johnson in the days when the music of black musicians was sold as 'race records.' Here the three are together in a dreamy cloud with their instruments and a crank record player."

Jerry Garcia

Wired Crossroads

"A guitar player's head is the location where sound waves, electrical impulses and physical vibrations all meet to produce music. Ink and colored pencil."

Jerry Garcia

The Artist

"Jerry painting at home. During a family art session in 1990, Keelin playfully placed a Christmas ornament on her father's head. Jerry, in his typical good-humored manner, continued working."

In This Article: Jerry Garcia, The Grateful Dead

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