New Joan Baez Art Exhibit Coming to Mill Valley

In an iconic career spanning six decades, Joan Baez has done it all. She’s a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who helped define the coffeehouse folk scene in the 1960s; and her musical spirit is matched by an activist mentality that has put her on the forefront of major nonviolent social movements since she walked arm-in-arm with Martin Luther King Jr. in Mississippi civil rights marches and spent time in jail for protesting the Vietnam War.

In the last few years, another side of Baez’s creative force has emerged in the form of solo art exhibitions that showcase her portrait paintings and drawings of some of her personal heroes and famous friends who’ve brought about positive social change over the last half-century.

Baez’s first solo exhibition, “Mischief Makers,” debuted at Mill Valley’s Seager Gray Gallery in 2017. Now, Baez returns to the gallery with a new batch of art for “Mischief Makers 2,” once again showcasing her portraits of people making the world a better place.

“Mischief Makers 2” opens Wednesday, January 6, and runs through February 14 at Seager Gray Gallery and online, and the gallery is hosting a live streaming art reception for the show on Saturday, January 9, which also marks Baez’s 80th birthday.

Following in the artistic footsteps of her debut solo exhibit, “Mischief Makers 2” features a new cast of social justice activists, progressive political figures and other notable historic faces from the worlds of literature, sports, music, environmentalism, spirituality and the counterculture.

One such painting is Baez’s portrait of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, which went viral when she posted it on social media with the word “Badass” as part of her get-out-the-vote campaign for the 2020 presidential election.

Her portrait of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the doctor at the head of the U.S’s Covid-19 response, also ignited the Internet when she posted the painting online and added the word “Trust” alongside the image, offering a strong a rebuke of right-wing political attacks on Fauci.

The new show also features portraits of figures like singer-songwriter Patti Smith, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, filmmaker Michael Moore, former NFL quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick, hippie icon Wavy Gravy and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and activist Alice Walker.

As she did in the first “Mischief Makers” exhibit, Baez includes a self-portrait. Limited edition prints of the self-portrait as well as portraits of Bob Dylan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Fauci and Emma Gonzalez will also be available and on display in the gallery.

Seager Gray Gallery, established by partners Donna Seager and Suzanne Gray in 2005 and located on the square in Mill Valley, is one of the most accomplished and acclaimed gallery spaces in the North Bay. The gallery specializes in contemporary fine art from both established and up-and-coming talents. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the gallery is open for abbreviated hours from Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 4pm, or by appointment.

In addition to its in-person hours, the gallery will present “Mischief Makers 2” online and art lovers can virtually join the show’s digital reception that includes an interview with Baez, a virtual tour of the art and more on Saturday, Jan 9, at 5:30pm. Ticket are $15 and can be purchased in advance at bit.ly/JoanBaezLiveStream.

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Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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