Grateful Dead’s Percussionist Moves to a New Art

Mickey Hart is internationally known as the percussionist for the Grateful Dead, legendary for his explorations of unusual time signatures and the percussion of India, Asia, Africa, and South America, a two-time Grammy winner and an accomplished composer, producer, archivist, and activist.

He also creates visual art.

After many years of performing, he began to study the history of percussion for a series of books, including Drumming at the Edge of Magic and Planet Drum, among others. Then his ever-questing mind lit on a new notion: He’d begun his story with the origins of the universe, the big bang, where creation generated vibrations. Now he began to consider the visual side of the equation, although the stimulus for this new art resulted from tragedy.

His long-time drum tech and friend, Lawrence “Ram Rod” Shurtliff, died. Hart’s response to grief was creation, but this time instead of recording music he began to work with wood, and sculpture began to consume him. As time went on, he also began to work with paint a la Jackson Pollack, pouring different types of paint and using different forms of interface to alter the texture.

“These visual representations from my sonic-driven world are snapshots into the music I am making during the day. I only create visuals at night. I create them with the sound of the cosmos in mind. As I paint, I listen to the soundtrack I have created for the specific pouring event. Perhaps a spiritual reverberation is what I conjure.”

“I love the flow of things, to be in the moment, to experience magic. Creating visual magic is new to me. With my pouring technique I can experience the wonder of chaos and the flow – all the glorious symmetry in one."

Hart’s paintings will get their first public exposure at Stanley Mouse’s Rockin Roses Gallery (243 B Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg) on November 6th, with an opening reception slated to run from 6 pm to 9 pm.

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