In her first solo painting exhibition, Joan Baez celebrates the “Mischief Makers" - portraits of people who have brought about social change through nonviolent action - the risk-taking visionaries. The exhibition reveals the lesser known "coyote element" - the humor and trickery essential in speaking truth to power, where shenanigans, along with music are the heart and soul of many successful nonviolent movements.
In her history-making career as an international performer and activist, Joan Baez has been on the front lines of just about every nonviolent social justice and human rights movement. She walked arm-in-arm with Martin Luther King Jr. on civil rights marches in Mississippi, got thrown in jail for protesting the War in Vietnam and conspired with Vaclav Havel to spark the Velvet Revolution.
Along the way, she serenaded Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi and survived the American bombing of Hanoi. Her activism continues to this day, expressed in this first show of her art – portraits of courageous people who’ve made a difference, disrupted the old order, and done so not only with courage, but also with a certain charm and elan. That’s why she calls this show “Mischief Makers.”
The cast of characters, most of whom Baez has known personally, include Martin Luther King, Jr., Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Czech Velvet Revolution leader Vaclav Havel, Malala Yousafzai, Bob Dylan, Congressman John Lewis, farm worker heroine Dolores Huerta, folk legend and activist Harry Belafonte, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, spiritual leader Ram Dass, the Dalai Lama, Bread and Roses founder Mimi Fariña, civil rights leader Reverend William Barber, Vietnam draft resistance leader and author David Harris, and native American medicine woman and activist Marilyn Youngbird. She also includes a portrait of herself as a young woman and one of a young monk inspired by a portrait she saw during a trip to Vietnam.
Baez has long nurtured a talent for painting and drawing that has blossomed over the last several years as she cuts back on her rigorous touring schedule and spends more and more time in the studio. “The choice of subjects for this, my first solo exhibit, comes as a reaction to the collapse of decency and moral standards which is currently being made obscenely evident in our government and its supporters," says Baez. "In stark contrast, the Mischief Makers are people who are willing to accept suffering, but never inflict it; to die for their cause, but never kill for it, and keep a sense of mischief through it all."
A portion of the sales of the paintings will go to Carecen SF, an organization dedicated to assisting Latino and other immigrants, as well as under-resourced families in the San Francisco Bay Area.