I came upon Rebecca Solnit's Secret Exhibition: Six California Artists of the Cold War Era this week. Turns out this was her first book, published by City Lights.
I'd heard about some of the artists through the Grateful Dead research; one of them, Wally Hedrick (photo), was Jerry Garcia's mentor. But this was my most substantive introduction to the folks who came to the Bay Area to study and teach at the California School of Fine Arts (now known as the San Francisco Art Institute).
Solnit's discussion helped me understand how these artists set the stage for the Beat and hippie scenes in San Francisco. Garcia was 15 years old when he began studying at the art school. That was the same year he got his first guitar and discovered marijuana. It was also the year the San Francisco art scene received national attention via an Evergreen Review cover story. It's easy to see how this scene would shape Garcia's attitudes about art and life.
Labels: Grateful Dead