In her first solo painting exhibition, legendary artist and activist Joan Baez celebrates the “Mischief Makers”—portraits of people who have brought about social change through nonviolent action—the risk-taking visionaries.
The exhibition runs from September 1 through October 1, 2017 at Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley, CA. A portion of the paintings’ sales will go to Carecen SF, an organization dedicated to assisting Latino and other immigrants, as well as under-resourced families in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The cast of characters in the paintings, most of whom Baez has known personally, includeMartin Luther King Jr., Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Czech Velvet Revolution leader Vaclav Havel, Malala Yousafzai, Bob Dylan, Congressman John Lewis, farm worker heroine Dolores Huerta, folk legend and activist Harry Belafonte, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, spiritual leader Ram Dass, the Dalai Lama, Bread and Roses founder Mimi Fariña, civil rights leader Reverend William Barber, Vietnam draft resistance leader and author David Harris, and Native American medicine woman and activist Marilyn Youngbird. She also includes a portrait of herself as a young woman and one of a young monk inspired by a portrait she saw during a trip to Vietnam.
Baez has long nurtured a talent for painting and drawing that has blossomed over the last several years as she cuts back on her rigorous touring schedule and spends more and more time in the studio. “The choice of subjects for this, my first solo exhibit, comes as a reaction to the collapse of decency and moral standards which is currently being made obscenely evident in our government and its supporters,” says Baez. “In stark contrast, the ‘Mischief Makers’ are people who are willing to accept suffering, but never inflict it, to die for their cause, but never kill for it, and keep a sense of mischief through it all.”
The debut exhibition comes during a landmark year for Baez, who was recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In her induction speech Baez spoke out on social justice and equality proclaiming, “Let us together repeal and replace brutality and make compassion apriority.” Her speech lead into a moving performance of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” followed by “Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos)” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” with longtime friends Mary Chapin Carpenter and Indigo Girls.
Baez’s career has spanned over 50 years during which she unselfconsciously introduced Bob Dylan to the world in 1963, marched on the front lines of the Civil Rights movement with Martin Luther King Jr., inspired Vaclav Havel to fight for a Czech Republic and continues to this day to stand passionately on behalf of causes she embraces. She is the recipient of many honors including the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award as well as Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience award. Her early albums introduced songs that found their way into the rock vernacular including “House Of the Rising Sun” (The Animals), “John Riley” (The Byrds) and “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” (Led Zeppelin).