As a multi-Grammy award winning drummer for the Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart has had an amazing musical career. But what some people don’t know is he’s also an extremely talented visual artist. “I have synesthesia, which is more than one sense working together,” he says. “I can see the colors of the music.”
For Mickey, it’s all about vibration. “Music is vibration; rhythm is vibration; everything in life is vibratory. That's why my paintings have meaning because they represent the vibratory universe in which we live. We're embedded in a world of rhythm.”
When he’s creating art, his process is very unique. “I find the paintbrush to be too limiting to my sense of flow,” he says. “I use gravity, and each piece is vibrated and drummed into life. That's why they call it vibrational expressionism.”
He uses multiple colors when he mixes paint, and explains the only way these colors can come through to the surface is by using vibration. “I'll drum the sides of the canvas or I'll put them on a subwoofer and vibrate the subwoofer using a Pythagorean Monochord, which they call the Beam. It's a multi-stringed instrument that brings art into life – it’s born in the vibration.”
Adds Mickey, “It's about the rhythm, the flow, like water. Water is wild, it goes where it wants to go. It bends, slides, glides and becomes a sinuous rhythm snake. It’s slightly out of control, never fully harnessed, and totally directed to fruition, and that's the way I like to create. It's a language of paint."
For him, pouring and using paint in different applications are roadmaps to a higher consciousness. Many of the images come from his dreams and the cosmos. “I use my dreams in my work,” he says. “During the day, I work with sounds from the cosmos or from the whole earth - things that are just around - and then I translate them and turn them into light. These works are physical representations of sound.”
He finds the whole process calming. “It's meditative for me,” says Mickey. “Everything disappears and I'm just alone with it. That's magic. When I'm using my visual side, it's a real joyful moment for me. Just like it would be with the Grateful Dead or Dead & Company. I like to be in the moment.”
He doesn’t consider making art entertainment, but more of a spiritual event. “It's more like seeing your consciousness rise to the surface,” he says. His artwork is also not just about the images. “They're about what they do to people and how they interpret them. That's the gold; that's the payoff.”
If you don't have an emotional connection with the image, then it's just a static thing, explains Mickey. “The image itself is important, but the most important thing is what you get from the image. If it just sits there, it has very little meaning. But, if it pulls you in and you meditate on it, just have some fun with it, I think it will do some good. That's probably the best that I could ask for.”
He expresses hope that his images, his sounds, and his rhythm make a better world and create an atmosphere of kindness.
On July 23, Mickey will be appearing in person at Wentworth Gallery Short Hills for a private reception and exhibition of his amazing works. His full collection will be on display and available for acquisition beginning June 1st.
“This is brand new stuff and completely different than what I’ve done before,” he says. “My technique has progressed and I've become better.”
Mickey is also the author of two books and continues to explore and learn every day. “Art keeps you young,” he says. “Music keeps you young.”
“You have to get into the moment. Relax and flow. It's just like music. It's jamming. I jam when I'm using my visual side.”