Peter Max has an exhibition going at a gallery here, and this weekend they had a couple of "meet the artist" events. I haven't attended any events like this before even though the opportunities arise. As we walked in, the crowds were still fairly light, and there he was, Peter Max, sitting right there on the window display ledge!
The entire gallery was filled with gorgeous color. He paints many very similar paintings, and the one above was there twice, both originals. I believe it is (they are) from 2007 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love. This is the style of his that I love, the psychedelic pop art that was animated in Yellow Submarine. He also has a style that is Fauvist/Expressionist that is much more unconstructed-looking than the ones I generally associate with him, and you can see several examples of those here.
I think what really inspired me to go see his work in person was picking up the "ACL 2010" special issue of the Austin Chronicle. He created this art especially for the ACL Festival [more on that], and I really loved it. It captures a very important part of the festival experience, in that there are 2 sides to Zilker Park, each with a headlining stage, and the acts on those stages will be playing at the same time. Then there are 2 smaller but-still-pretty-big stages at each end that are going when those are not. You can stand in the middle and get a cacophony of both at any one time. (I will reserve the rest of my usual sound-bleedover rant for another time)
While we were visiting the gallery (red circle) we could easily hear the music coming from one of the big stages (larger red shape).That's OK. I love loud music. I just don't like being able to hear several bands at once (they have 8 stages, not 4, it's way too many in my opinion) [must. not. rant.]
I thought beforehand that autograph-seeking might be considered tacky, and that was so true... nobody did it, he did not really mingle while we were there (although he walked right past me at one point), and I believe that the security people would have prevented such a thing. I found out the next day that at another show he was signing copies of his coffee table book if you brought them with you. If I had known that in time, it would have happened. A Peter Max art book would be delightful to have, especially with an added doodle. I did bring my copy of the Chronicle, just in case, and hoped that they might be selling posters that could be autograph-able. As it turns out, there were posters, but the posters were there as a gift to anyone buying a piece of art. If you bought something, then he would sign a poster for you and even pose for a photo with you and your prize.
As for these prizes, they were well out of our price range. Most of the big attention-getters and ones I'd love to own were priced between $20,000 and $50,000. There was another level of much smaller or lower-profile things that you could get for about $5,000. There were many delightful things in that range, but some others that bring on a different kind of rant when it comes to art. For example, there was a series of paintings of the Texas flag, which is very simple and highly recognizable. I think that when it come to establishing the value of art, so much of it is merely the who and not the what. Here is a series of paintings depicting the Texas flag. Some of them are quite expressive. Some are less so.
One of these can be had for about $5,000, and the others, I would imagine, for quite a bit less.
Other artist links: [Timothy Raines] [Mark Merrill] [KAT]
The question of what is art/not art, and what is valuable/not valuable is a very loaded question that you can stay up all night talking about but will never resolve it. There is no right answer. Sometimes, it's just about the signature. Sometimes, it's so much more!
* title is a reference to a song from Yellow Submarine.