As the time approached Wednesday evening for internationally renowned psychedelic artists Alex Grey and Allyson Grey to make their appearance at downtown Grass Valley’s Art Discovered, a line grew out the gallery’s door and halfway down Mill Street.
“We both got off of work early to be here,” said Dan Torres, 29, a Nevada County resident who stood at the front of the line with friend Kevin Schwartz, 26, a Grass Valley resident.
For Schwartz, his first exposure to Alex Grey’s work was also his first experience with the alternative metal band Tool, for which the Greys has provided album art. His spiritual art is also incorporated into Tool’s musical performances.
“It was one of the two events that changed my life,” Schwartz said of the 2002 Fresno concert. “I’m here to say thanks.”
The artistic couple was on hand Wednesday for a book signing of Alex Grey’s “Net of Being,” released in November. Their appearance drew scores of fans for the signing and after-party.
“We have many friends in Northern California, but this is our first visit to Grass Valley,” Grey told The Union in an email. “It has a reputation for great beauty.”
Net of Being is also the name of one of Grey’s famous paintings. It was inspired by a vision of an infinite grid of Godheads during an experience spurred by ayahuasca, a psychoactive-infused brew developed by native Amazonians in Peru for divinatory and healing purposes, according to Grey’s recent book of the same name.
The painting has been seen by millions as it was used on the cover and interior of art of Tool’s most recent album, “10,000 Days,” a triple-platinum release that garnered a Grammy in 2006 for best recording package. Artists such as Nirvana and the Beastie Boys have also employed Grey’s work, among many others.
“Everyone appreciates art that makes you stop and think,” Torres said.
While also portraying some of Grey’s work over the years, his most recent book further explores themes of interconnectedness. That theme also permeates much of Allyson Grey’s art.
“We have shared a studio for 38 years, and all of our work individually is influenced welcomely by each other,” the couple said.
Allyson Grey said one of her defining experiences was a shared 1976 LSD trip with her husband in which she perceived a vision akin to the Jewel Net of Indra.
“My portrayal of this graphic description of infinite interconnectedness resonates with the image Alex and I had together that changed our work — the infinite vista of fountains and drains,” said Allyson Grey.
“Zena, our daughter (a budding actress), has always been an inspiration, as well,” Alex Grey said. “The subject of family and the energy that brings souls together has been a central theme in my artwork.”
At Art Discovered, the couple signed scores of pieces of art, books and other creations dressed in all black, something they are known for that draws comparisons as the Johnny Cash and June Carter of the psychedelic art world.
“I have wonderful memories of seeing the Cash family perform at the Ohio State Fair. We feel sympathetic with Johnny’s sentiments in his song ‘Man in Black,’” Grey said. “Johnny and June were heroic artists that struggled together and believed in God and each other.”
Attending fans said the Greys’ visit to Grass Valley was a unique opportunity.
“This is a huge opportunity for Art Discovered, but it is ultimately just a really cool thing for the community as well. We are looking at it as a community event more than we are looking at it from a promotional standpoint,” said Melanie Steinberg, who owns and operates Art Discovered along with partner Matt Wells, in a previous interview with The Union.
“At the end of the day, this is for the community, and this is what it is all about.”
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4236.