While attending the New York School of Visual Arts in the 1960’s, Patrick Carney displayed a painting of Bob Dylan. When one of Dylan’s people saw it, and then later came back and purchased it, Carney started thinking …maybe I could do this for a living. Fifty plus years later, his paintings hang in the personal collections of Dick Clark, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks, Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger. If that’s not inspiration, I’m not sure what is. Saturday, February 9th at Santos Fine Art Galleries in Encinitas, Carney’s latest series Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven will make its public debut.
“I wanted to capture that vivid moment, as someone in the audience remembered it,” Carney gestured as we passed by a few paintings, some leaning against the wall not yet framed, a few hung up especially for my sneak peak visit at the Santos Gallery warehouse. At first glance it’s obvious to see that Carney’s lifetime of personal and professional experience with rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest talents made it easier for him to convey their personalities. Each piece had it’s own persona and vivid color scheme that, even though this wasn’t a gallery setting, when grouped next to each other, really lit up the room.
“I listened to a lot of tribute songs while working on these pieces,” Carney mentioned while sharing about some of the things he did to get in the mood for the series. He even reached out to Elvis Presley’s step-brother David Stanley to help shape his Presley piece. “David shared about the giving side of Elvis–how at every concert he set aside seats for individuals that were handicapped, and the money he gave away and how heart-centered he was.”
Carney’s Elvis–one which captures the explosive power in his performance and the passion behind his legacy–is one of the stand-out pieces in the set.
“Amy Winehouse’s death really started me thinking about doing a series around all the musicians who died at age 27. But then I realized I would have to leave out some of my favorites who have passed on,” Carney explained.
So, he took to the Internet and let his fans decide. Culled from over 34,000 original votes, Carney was left with a list of 129 different musicians they wanted him to paint. The 19 chosen got the most votes with the top eight being John Lennon, George Harrison, Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley and Jim Morrison.
Carney’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven captures monumental moments in the 19 musicians’ careers, memorializing their legacy on canvas. Known mainly for doing portraits, Carney wanted this collection to portray the artists in performance settings.
“The action allowed me to paint them in iconic moments, moments they are remembered by,” he shared while glancing towards the over-sized Hendrix painting. Moving through the pieces one-by-one, I really got the feeling of what he was talking about as I walked towards the brown and black shaded Janis Joplin piece. As I looked at it up close, commenting on it being one of my favorites, Patrick told me to take a few steps back, and then a few more.
“This series is best seen from a few steps back–the figures start to move the further away you get,” he explained. Standing now fifteen feet away, I saw what Carney was talking about. The way Janis was leaning with the microphone–her eyes closed, the pain of her life hiding in the brown shadow across her face–gave the painting its subtle depth.
The 19 paintings in Patrick Carney’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven series evoke the true spirit of the musicians, capturing their unforgettable personalities and all that they embodied throughout their careers. Nineteen memorable, colorful, emotional moments, that when presented together, make for a series not to be missed.
Saturday, February 9, from 6pm – 10pm at Santos Fine Art Galleries in Encinitas, Carney’s collection of the rock ‘n’ roll legends will be on display for public viewing. The exhibit will also be shown by appointment from February 1 – 28.