The Art of Jerry Garcia

Posted on in Features by Rob Sidon


“Let my inspiration flow in token lines suggesting rhythm that will not forsake me till my tale is told and done’’

“A line on paper is like a note on air.”

Jerry Garcia was born August 1, 1942, in San Francisco and died August 9, 1995, in Marin County. Best known as the lead guitarist for the Grateful Dead, Jerry was an artist from childhood who early on thought of himself as an artist who played music.

In 1961, a near-fatal car accident served as a “slingshot for the rest of [his] life,” causing him to choose the guitar over the paintbrush and pen. But he never ceased to paint and draw, carrying notebooks and sketchbooks with him at all times, generating over 2,000 works along the way.

Uninterested in attracting increased public attention, he painted purely for himself. With the help of Manasha and Keelin Garcia of the Jerry Garcia Foundation and Roberta Weir, Common Ground is pleased to showcase a small sampling of drawings, watercolors, and acrylics—a visual foray into the private ruminations of a wondrous creative spirit we solemnly admire and sorely miss. Fare thee well.

“I’m attracted to uncertainty. Why
bother to live a life already set for you?
Why do you do it? Do you enjoy it?”

“The thing I want to know is
what everyone wants to know.
What? Why? Who?”

“The whole thing is remembering, this is who
we are. Remember who we are? We are in
reality a group of misfits, crazy people, who
have voluntarily come together to work this
stuff out and do the best we can and try
to be as fair as we possibly can with each
other, and just struggle through life.”

“See here how everything led up to this day.
And it’s just like any other day that’s ever been,
Sun goin’ up and then the sun, it goin’ down.”

“For me, the lame part of the Sixties
was the political part, the social part.
The real part was the spiritual part.”

“I am there, yet I’m not there. . . . Too much
thinking stops the flapping of our wings.
When my guitar flutters, I am a listener of my
performance. Things which come from my
playing guide me and push me like a real living
thing. That time becomes an alpha state.”

“The pleasure of creation comes
from the unknown, unpredictable
part of life. If not, God wouldn’t have
bothered to create human beings.”

“Fare thee well, fare thee well
I love you more than words can tell.
Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul”

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