A Modern Myth on Canvas
Officially Licensed by the Estate of Jerome J. Garcia

The Symbolism

This painting was
created as a tribute to Jerry Garcia; to honor the man and the musician and as a means to help heal our loss. The images were a gift of inspiration stemming from my personal beliefs. It was only when I reflected upon the images that the messages revealed themselves.

The figure of Jerry manifested as the archetype of the Wiseman, the Lord of the Night, the Wounded Healer. He is the ancient guide in the realms of death who brings understanding. He has the power in his fingers to heal. His music still remains even though he has physically died to the world of our everyday reality. His upraised guitar reminds us of this.

 The shamanic landscape has three worlds: Upper, Middle (our dimension) and Lower with animal and spirit guides assisting the shaman. In this painting he has just crossed over to the Lower World from the Middle World represented by Sedona's vortex of Cathedral Rocks.

Jerry is portrayed as riding a white horse. In shamanic cultures, the horse is a psychopomp , an aide to celestial journeys who carries the spirits of the dead into the other world. The river is the gateway. The wolves guard the river and the souls who cross over. They are howling a welcome to Jerry. The mountain lions patiently await to guide him. The birds and hawk feathers represent the soul's flight after death and are cosmic messengers of Great Spirit.

As he begins his journey, a skull portal opens in the sky revealing an Angel/Goddess of the Upper World awaiting his presence when he is through exploring the Lower World. The blue roses represent our tears while the skull/angel combination symbolizes life after death. The full moon rising serves to remind us that all Life is change, that energy cannot be destroyed, that we have the power of creativity in our own hands. The stars reflect where we have been and where we are going after passing over. They also humble us into realizing that we as humans are quite small compared to the vastness of the Universe. I chose his "Throwing Stones" music video garb to reflect the message that we must all be responsible for our actions, for each other and for Mother Earth. As Jerry was a humble man who never assumed leadership in the Grateful Dead, I thought he would have liked the size of his figure in these mysteries of Life.

Through the process of creating this piece of art, we, the viewers have the ability to commune with Jerry's spirit. This sums up my own artistic process as I worked on this painting. May Jerry's spirit live on in our hearts and in our actions.

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Last Modified: September 16, 2006 1:35 PM