Nov 27, 2020
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Jerry Garcia’s art surfaces

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ To Jerry Garcia’s brother, the Grateful Dead guitarist’s oil paintings were never rare works of art, just stuff that took up space in his garage. For nearly 50 years Clifford (Tiff) Garcia held onto them, first as a favour to his late mother, then to his only sibling and, finally, after his younger brother’s death in 1995, because he wasn’t quite sure what else to do with them.

"They’re not Rembrandts, that’s for sure," the 68-year-old Garcia, whose voice bears a striking resemblance to that of his famous brother, said with a hearty laugh.

In recent years, though, Jerry Garcia’s art has begun to gain more public attention. Not long before his death, his abstract paintings and drawings began to decorate a line of high-end neckties. Last year a coffee table book containing more than 150 reproductions was published. Tiff Garcia contributed a couple of the oil paintings to that project, and then the world came calling.

Last month, all five of the works he kept in the garage were displayed publicly for the first time, at San Francisco’s Matrix, where Jerry Garcia once performed as a musician. A limited edition lithograph of one of them is also being sold. "In Chair" depicts a seated figure.

As it turned out, Tiff Garcia has the only five Jerry Garcia oil paintings known to exist. His brother, who painted and drew throughout his life, worked often in watercolours, acrylics and other forms, but apparently never oil except for one year in the late 1950s when he was a teenage student of Elmer Bischoff at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Although Bischoff, along with Richard Diebenkorn and David Park, is a major figure in the California abstract expressionist movement, Tiff Garcia says his brother was never a serious student and it’s unlikely he even remembered his instructor’s name.

"He was doing it as a pastime, to keep him off the streets. That’s why my mom sent him there," he said by phone from his San Francisco Bay area home.

Fine art lithographer Jack Solomon says Garcia’s early work reminds him of French artist Georges Rouault’s style. He notes both worked in dark, heavy colours and used "wild, strong brush slashes."

"Garcia’s early works are similar to Rouault’s best artworks in important areas," said Solomon, one of the nation’s leading lithographers.

If that’s so, Tiff Garcia doesn’t see it.

The paintings, he said, are generic, what everybody in art class was assigned to do. He recalls with a guffaw that when he went with his brother to cart a couple of them home he could just as easily have picked up someone else’s if the artist himself hadn’t pointed out the right ones.

Personally, he favours his brother’s later work.

"More of his own imagination was in his later stuff," he said.

But if others want to make a big deal about the early works, that’s fine with him, although he does fret that he’ll have to start storing them somewhere safer than the garage.

If the public isn’t interested, that’s fine, too.

"As far as I’m concerned, Jerry is noted for his musical abilities," his brother said. "Beyond that, it is anybody’s guess."

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Headline, Industry News

Jerry Garcia’s art surfaces

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ To Jerry Garcia’s brother, the Grateful Dead guitarist’s oil paintings were never rare works of art, just stuff that took up space in his garage. For nearly 50 years Clifford (Tiff) Garcia held onto them, first as a favour to his late mother, then to his only sibling and, finally, after his younger brother’s death in 1995, because he wasn’t quite sure what else to do with them.

"They’re not Rembrandts, that’s for sure," the 68-year-old Garcia, whose voice bears a striking resemblance to that of his famous brother, said with a hearty laugh.

In recent years, though, Jerry Garcia’s art has begun to gain more public attention. Not long before his death, his abstract paintings and drawings began to decorate a line of high-end neckties. Last year a coffee table book containing more than 150 reproductions was published. Tiff Garcia contributed a couple of the oil paintings to that project, and then the world came calling.

Last month, all five of the works he kept in the garage were displayed publicly for the first time, at San Francisco’s Matrix, where Jerry Garcia once performed as a musician. A limited edition lithograph of one of them is also being sold. "In Chair" depicts a seated figure.

As it turned out, Tiff Garcia has the only five Jerry Garcia oil paintings known to exist. His brother, who painted and drew throughout his life, worked often in watercolours, acrylics and other forms, but apparently never oil except for one year in the late 1950s when he was a teenage student of Elmer Bischoff at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Although Bischoff, along with Richard Diebenkorn and David Park, is a major figure in the California abstract expressionist movement, Tiff Garcia says his brother was never a serious student and it’s unlikely he even remembered his instructor’s name.

"He was doing it as a pastime, to keep him off the streets. That’s why my mom sent him there," he said by phone from his San Francisco Bay area home.

Fine art lithographer Jack Solomon says Garcia’s early work reminds him of French artist Georges Rouault’s style. He notes both worked in dark, heavy colours and used "wild, strong brush slashes."

"Garcia’s early works are similar to Rouault’s best artworks in important areas," said Solomon, one of the nation’s leading lithographers.

If that’s so, Tiff Garcia doesn’t see it.

The paintings, he said, are generic, what everybody in art class was assigned to do. He recalls with a guffaw that when he went with his brother to cart a couple of them home he could just as easily have picked up someone else’s if the artist himself hadn’t pointed out the right ones.

Personally, he favours his brother’s later work.

"More of his own imagination was in his later stuff," he said.

But if others want to make a big deal about the early works, that’s fine with him, although he does fret that he’ll have to start storing them somewhere safer than the garage.

If the public isn’t interested, that’s fine, too.

"As far as I’m concerned, Jerry is noted for his musical abilities," his brother said. "Beyond that, it is anybody’s guess."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Headline, Industry News

Jerry Garcia’s art surfaces

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ To Jerry Garcia’s brother, the Grateful Dead guitarist’s oil paintings were never rare works of art, just stuff that took up space in his garage. For nearly 50 years Clifford (Tiff) Garcia held onto them, first as a favour to his late mother, then to his only sibling and, finally, after his younger brother’s death in 1995, because he wasn’t quite sure what else to do with them.

"They’re not Rembrandts, that’s for sure," the 68-year-old Garcia, whose voice bears a striking resemblance to that of his famous brother, said with a hearty laugh.

In recent years, though, Jerry Garcia’s art has begun to gain more public attention. Not long before his death, his abstract paintings and drawings began to decorate a line of high-end neckties. Last year a coffee table book containing more than 150 reproductions was published. Tiff Garcia contributed a couple of the oil paintings to that project, and then the world came calling.

Last month, all five of the works he kept in the garage were displayed publicly for the first time, at San Francisco’s Matrix, where Jerry Garcia once performed as a musician. A limited edition lithograph of one of them is also being sold. "In Chair" depicts a seated figure.

As it turned out, Tiff Garcia has the only five Jerry Garcia oil paintings known to exist. His brother, who painted and drew throughout his life, worked often in watercolours, acrylics and other forms, but apparently never oil except for one year in the late 1950s when he was a teenage student of Elmer Bischoff at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Although Bischoff, along with Richard Diebenkorn and David Park, is a major figure in the California abstract expressionist movement, Tiff Garcia says his brother was never a serious student and it’s unlikely he even remembered his instructor’s name.

"He was doing it as a pastime, to keep him off the streets. That’s why my mom sent him there," he said by phone from his San Francisco Bay area home.

Fine art lithographer Jack Solomon says Garcia’s early work reminds him of French artist Georges Rouault’s style. He notes both worked in dark, heavy colours and used "wild, strong brush slashes."

"Garcia’s early works are similar to Rouault’s best artworks in important areas," said Solomon, one of the nation’s leading lithographers.

If that’s so, Tiff Garcia doesn’t see it.

The paintings, he said, are generic, what everybody in art class was assigned to do. He recalls with a guffaw that when he went with his brother to cart a couple of them home he could just as easily have picked up someone else’s if the artist himself hadn’t pointed out the right ones.

Personally, he favours his brother’s later work.

"More of his own imagination was in his later stuff," he said.

But if others want to make a big deal about the early works, that’s fine with him, although he does fret that he’ll have to start storing them somewhere safer than the garage.

If the public isn’t interested, that’s fine, too.

"As far as I’m concerned, Jerry is noted for his musical abilities," his brother said. "Beyond that, it is anybody’s guess."

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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