The psychedelic pop-art of Peter Max defined my childhood aesthetic, and although I just dated myself with that comment, I will gladly say that I’m still a huge fan of bold colors, cosmic illustrations, hippies and groovy people. When I found out that America’s Pop-Art Icon and “Painter Laureate” was visiting Dallas a couple weeks ago, I knew that Orange Boy, Green Girl and I needed to hop in our Yellow Submarine and travel through the Red Cosmic Color Tunnel down to Wisby-Smith Fine Art Gallery for a little zing-zap zowie wowie, and maybe an autograph or two.
The impressive Wisby-Smith Gallery presented a fantastic collection of Max’s traditional paintings for observation and acquisition, such as his signature angels, astrals and hearts, as well as smaller scale sketches of the Beatles. Mick Jagger was represented in rainbow colors, as was Vincent Van Gogh’s famous self portrait, vibrant and immediately recognizable. The Dallas Cowboys and Texas Longhorns football helmets were less impressive to me, but his infamous 10 Cent Stamp bearing the title “Preserve the Environment” and various never- before- seen celebrity portraits, such as Taylor Swift, were bright and engaging.
Taking note of how quickly the gallery filled with Mr. Max’s fans (and also noting the vast age-span), I grooved my way to the head of the crowd to shake his hand and request his autograph on one of my three vintage 1970 Peter Max and the Land of… books. Perhaps feeling sentimental, Mr. Max was delighted to see these books. He enjoyed flipping through them, reminiscing and showing them to others. Though Max was gracious and happy to sign my copy of Peter Max and the Land of Red , the gallery watchdogs would not allow me to take any photographs and also required that I first make a charitable donation before obtaining my prize. Mr. Max is known for charitable fundraising through his art, so I was more than happy to oblige. My contribution to the Human Fund accepted, Mr. Max autographed my book, the mob pushed me aside and I saw him disappear like tiny bear cub behind a forest of smartly dressed trees.
Before leaving Wisby-Smith, I circled the gallery one more time. I looked at the familiar images and I thought about being a kid in the 1970’s. I thought about moments like painting at the kitchen table with my dad and driving in the car with him while “Yellow Submarine” played on the radio. Clutching my books I handed my ticket to the valet and smiled, silently thanking Peter Max for being one of the Forever Groovy People, for the years of delicious visuals and for the good memories.
Wisby-Smith Fine Art Gallery, located in The Crescent, Dallas, is proving to be an impressive art house and premiere resource for high-end art appreciation and acquisition. The gallery’s collection ranges in works from such masters as Renoir, Dali, Picasso and of course our friend, Peter Max. Check it out!
Wisby-Smith Fine Art is located at 500 Crescent Court, Suite 146, Dallas, Texas.