A few weeks ago we went to the Rex Foundation Gala, what I would call the non-profit arm of the Grateful Dead.
There we met JB who invited us to his open house at the Grateful Graphics Warehouse.
I took some time off work and off we went. When we got there a few Deadheads were gathering and JB told us to make ourselves at home, and feel free to help ourselves to the "seconds" in the stacks around the room. MonkeyBoy got to pick out the fabulous hoodie below. And I got a few Dancing Bear Peace Symbol Buttons to share with my friends, could anything make me happier than that?Johnathan spoke about the beginnings of Grateful Graphics.
As the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love has passed, I am reminded of the day 23 years ago when I first premiered the Dancing Bears and Grateful Graphics. In the overflowing parking lot outside the Hampton Coliseum, I sold my first hand-painted Row of Dancing Bears shirt changing the world of Grateful Dead merchandising and beginning a cultural revolution within our community that allowed Deadheads to show their love and devotion for the band in a gentler, more loving way. I believe the introduction of the Dancing Bear to mainstream GD iconography was much like the Summer of Love. In the words of Fraser Clark, editor of the Encyclopedia Psychedelica, the summer of 1967 was a "new fractal of social change which was to massively influence events for years to come." The Dancing Bears did just that as they evoked the lighter, happier side of the scene. With the Dancing Bears came the acceptance of "showing one's colors" outside of the concert experience by folks from all walks of life. And now, the journey continues with our latest catalogue of Grateful Graphics goodies. I invite you to grab some daisies, go barefoot, tune in and turn on. Here's to the joy the Grateful Dead has brought to all of us, each and every day...Of course Johnathan is now a Burner so we felt right at home.
Then JB took the floor and talked about how the business of Grateful Graphics worked now, and my favorite part, that the inspiration for the Dancing Bear Peace Symbol, was the Peace Symbol's 50th anniversary, April 4, 2008. April 4 is JB birthday, his Dad's birthday and guess what, the MonkeyBoy's birthday. So Peace and love all in one package.Then for the 2nd part of our big adventure, we went to the silkscreening factory where the Grateful Graphics products are printed. Ya gotta know that I LOVED seeing the big silkscreening machines and folder and digital silkscreening and when I thought about my little Gocco Silkscreening DIY machine I had to laugh. Then off to lunch at the Conneticut Yankee.
I had such a good time. I loved hearing about how the business got started, getting to know JB and seeing the warehouse, and the peace buttons, and the silkscreening factory, and lunch with a bunch of deadheads. What could be more fun than that?
What a fabulous adventure. Thanks JB and thanks Freddy for introducing us to the cool people at your table at the Rex Foundation Gala!
graphics & photo of Johnathan, JB & Jodi from Grateful Graphics