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WEB EXCLUSIVE: 60 Seconds

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It’s not everyday you meet a rock legend of Grace Slick’s caliber, so when MLT got wind of her upcoming art exhibit May 19 and 20 at Wentworth Gallery in the King of Prussia Mall, we jumped at the chance to get her on the phone. Talking to us from her home in Malibu, she shared her views on everything from music and art to sex and aging. For those under the age of 40, Grace Slick is the former lead singer of Jefferson Airplane (1960s) and Jefferson Starship (1970s). But there’s a lot more to her than classic rock—as her artwork proves.

MLT: A lot of your paintings seem to be linked to music icons. How present is music in your life right now?
GS: I gotta tell you, I listen to a really weird mix of music. I’ve got Del Castillo playing on the porch right now; they’re out of Austin, Texas—a cross of rock ’n’ roll, mariache and Spanish. Sounds crazy, but it works. There’s a women’s a capella choir from Hungary—and Eminem, although he hasn’t had anything new out in a while. I like Rachmaninoff. I still love some of the old stuff, too. I listen to VH1 Classic; it’s my era. And I do check out MTV.

MLT: What do you listen to when you paint?
GS: I don’t. I’m not a multitasker. I have one house, one kid, one man. I do one thing at a time. I usually have an idea of how I’m going to capture whatever it is I’m painting—especially if it’s a portrait. I don’t want the music to push or pull me out of that mood. I’m a musician; if I listened to music, I’d be pulled in and get too far into it.

MLT: There’s a hint of humor there—not taking life too seriously. Also a sense of mischief and adventure. How do you see your work? GS: That’s pretty much the way I was; my parents, too. Humor, sarcasm—that’s who I am, what I do.

MLT: Is there anything in particular you want people to take away from your art?
GS: No, they can do whatever they want to do with it. They can like all of it, like one piece and not another. That’s OK. A lot of it depends on if they see something that resonates with them. Sometimes it’s not what the artist intended, but that’s cool; people respond differently to different things. It’s about connecting to others through art; artists can add to whatever perspective or experience someone came in with.

MLT: What comes easier to you? Music or art?
GS: Either one fits. As long as it’s in the arts, I’m OK. But you don’t want me fixing your television. And you don’t want me doing your income taxes. I don’t do numbers.

MLT: Do you sew?
GS: I made a lot of my clothes in the ’60s. And I didn’t use a sewing machine; I stitched everything by hand.

MLT: The nudes and the musings behind them—there’s a mood playing out that feels very much like a visual journal.
GS: All of my nudes express feelings or moods I’ve had, but in a body I had 40 years ago. I like to make love to a man, but I prefer drawing a woman. Men are chunky, lumpier. But women are softer, rounder and neater to draw.

MLT: You created music at a time when psychadelics were deemed inspirational. Did you see your lyrics and instrumentation in colors and shapes?
GS: No, never. I do with classical, yes, and even modern instrumental. But not with music that has lyrics. They’re usually about emotions, politics—stuff that generally doesn’t inspire visions of color or swirly things. Lyrics elicit images of the story being told.

MLT: I read somewhere that you said all rockers over the age of 50 look stupid and should retire. But the Rolling Stones and the Who have been having a blast. Do you still think they shouldn’t be out there?
GS: Actually, I was misquoted. What I said was that I feel stupid. Even in my 40s I felt ike a dork. Rock is a young person’s medium, and the songs are about everything they’re experiencing and rebelling against. You can play classical—even do pop in a caberet kind of way—but you can’t go around singing about anything relative when you’re in your 60s. Not rock, not rap. I’m not saying that those out there doing it shouldn’t, but it’s a little out of whack to be singing, “I can’t get no satisfaction,” when you’re damn near a billionaire.

MLT: You’ve led a colorful, influential and in to many, enviable life with plenty of highs and lows. What do you take away from it all?
GS: It’s not what you did. When you’re older, it’s what you didn’t do and the regrets of not doing those things. I’ll tell any young person, “Yeah, try it”—unless it’s something really stupid like stabbing your mother in the neck. Stop talking about it. If you’ve been wanting to go to Italy, don’t wait for the perfect moment—just do it.