Iconic '60s Artist Peter Max Talks Taylor Swift, Jimi Hendrix and Bridging The Generational Gap

Categories: DFW Music News
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Peter Max's representations of Taylor Swift's Speak Now and Fearless.
In his 73 years, Peter Max has watched the inter-generational shift of modern music begin as a segment of counterculture and eventually become a staple of mainstream consciousness.

And, this past weekend, at the Wisby-Smith Fine Art Gallery, Max brought some of his work to Dallas for the nostalgic enjoyment of faded-hippies and youngsters alike. The posh gallery greeted visitors with a throwback acid trip to the 1960s, offering a rare opportunity for fans to meet the artist and to admire the work that has, in many ways, defined a generation.

"I have always been very close to music," Max told DC9 during a short interview at his show on Saturday. "When I paint, I have a full-time DJ who plays everything from bebop all the way to alternative rock."

These days, though, Max is also focused on the mainstream: He recently completed two portraits of Taylor Swift from her Speak Now and Fearless album covers -- two of the bigger draws at this exhibit -- and he plans to begin work on a new Steven Tyler portrait dealing with Tyler's recent inauguration into the American Idol panel.

And while you can easily stroll down to your local Wal-Mart to buy your kid a poster of Swift and the like, the personal recollections of Max's encounters with these individuals demonstrates the amount of love he has for his subject matter.

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The Hendrix painting in question.
Case in point: perhaps the most notable selection in Max's exhibit, a fairly new portrait of Jimi Hendrix, derived from a photograph of the legendary guitarist in his pre-Woodstock career.

"I was renting a house in Woodstock," Max recalled, "and when we moved in, my little daughter found this old washed-out denim jacket. She was about four years old and she loved it, but it was so big on her that it would just drag on the floor like cape. One day, I am sitting on the porch -- and this is like three months into living there -- and some guy knocked on the screen door. It was Jimi Hendrix!"

Through conversing with Hendrix, the nature of the legendary guitarist's visit became clear: Hendrix had previously rented a room in the house from his manager, Michael Jeffrey, and had returned to claim an old denim jacket he was particularly fond of.

"Just as he said it, my little daughter comes walking by with the jacket dragging at her feet," Max said. "I said, 'Here is your jacket, please let me give it to you.' But he said no. The jacket was hers. She still has the jacket to this day."

That, he explained, is the 1960s magic he hopes his work can continue to bring to audiences today.

"You lived inside the magic," he said. "It was really great to live in Woodstock around all the musicians. You would walk down the street and see Bob Dylan and say, 'Hey Bobby! How ya doin'?' My whole early 20s were filled with rock stars."
 
The Peter Max exhibit will be a permanent fixture at the Wisby-Smith Gallery. Admission is free.

Location Info

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Wisby-Smith Fine Art

500 Crescent Court, Dallas, TX

Category: General


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4 comments
Robert
Robert

My comment about Peter Max shoes from the sixties was deleted and the 2 spam comments above remain. Weird.

Robert
Robert

These days, though, Max is also focused on the mainstream

Max focused on the mainstream in ye days of olde too. You could buy a pair of Peter Max shoes at your neighborhood Kinney's in the late sixties/early seventies. You could then get a free second pair when the soles and heels separated from the uppers of your first pair.

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