Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Jan 26th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Dead is Alive

ae dead1UC Santa Cruz’s Grateful Dead Archive finally opens to the public

It might be a slight exaggeration to say, “in the beginning was the Grateful Dead and post-modern culture flowed forth from that mighty stream”—but, the band’s new archive at UC Santa Cruz makes a compelling case.

The exhibit, entitled “A Box of Rain: Archiving the Grateful Dead Phenomena”—which officially opens to the public on June 29—features a wide variety of Grateful Dead memorabilia, and is housed at Dead Central: a 1,400-square-foot space inside the McHenry Library at UCSC.

 

Archivist Nicholas Meriwether, the silver-haired gentleman who oversees the ambitious project, has streamlined the ragged adventures of the Bay Area rock band into one exciting, cohesive visual experience. Meriwether contributed all of the graphics, and designed the layout and typesetting for the exhibition himself.

The purpose of the exhibit is twofold: to tell the story of the archive and how it came to be, and to tell the tale of the band with associated cultural and historical phenomena. The ways in which the two stories intersect and interact is up to archive visitors to discover. The memorabilia housed inside the glass room has the charm, power and mystery to captivate fans, scholars and the curious.

One such display features one of the band’s guitars, which was used by a Stanford physicist interested in acoustics. “It documents the fact that academic rigor and scholarly study have been associated with the band since 1966,” says Meriwether. Another case contains volumes of fan zines created by Deadheads and other publications that came directly from the band. “And this makes the point that immediately the band consisted of  more than just people performing on stage for a static audience—it’s a great big participatory ritual,” Meriwether adds.

ae GratefulDead2In another exhibit, a note that was handwritten in 1962 by Jerry Garcia to one of his guitar students, is also on display. “This was before he was in Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, which is the band that preceded the Warlocks, which preceded the Grateful Dead,” explains Meriwether. The note is one example of the tablatures that Garcia would scribble down at the end of each class, in order to break down his students’ favorite songs into chords they could practice at home. “I think this is something that is often overlooked—Jerry and the rest of the band were really fine teachers,” says the archivist. “They were good teachers in the sense that they made it clear they were students themselves.”

Aside from their roles as educators, Meriwether hopes that the archive will shed light on the band’s important role in American culture overall. “One of the things I needed to do is reassure skeptics of the band’s enduring significance,” he says.

The archive chronicles everything from the band’s early involvement with the Palo Alto art scene of the late 1950s, to The Acid Tests, to Woodstock. There are plenty of novelties for the entertainment of Deadheads, including the actual long wooden table the band used for meetings—but, the devil is in the details.

Within one glass case there are five PhD dissertations in a variety of fields, 27 master’s degree theses, and more than 50 peer-reviewed scholarly articles. But, when asked what aspect of the archive excites him most, Meriwether pointed to the eye-popping graphics that seem to beckon the viewer. “What other academics get to actually commission such wonderful posters to document their gatherings?” he asks with a smile. 

The public opening of the Grateful Dead Archive will take place from 1-4 p.m. on Friday, June 29, at UCSC’s McHenry Library, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz. No cover.

Photo1: Jim Marshall / Photo 2: MaryAnn Mayer

Comments (3)Add Comment
...
written by GT, July 02, 2012
Tom, you can find the hours for the archive and more info at the following link:
http://library.ucsc.edu/grateful-dead-archive/visit
...
written by Tom Clark, July 01, 2012
What are the regular hours they are open to the public?
...
written by This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , June 26, 2012
daggnabbit!! I thought it was today and here I am all broken hearted...

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Force of Nature

Santa Cruz’s Carlie Statsky brings her love of the natural world to the hyper-personal art of wedding photography

 

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

The magical time of Mercury’s retrograde cycle is here once again, until Feb. 11, and then some. The Mercury retro cycle actually lasts eight weeks when we consider its retrograde shadow, giving us six months a year for review. We know the rules of Mercury retro: Be careful with everything; cars, driving, money, resources, friends, friendships, groups, interactions, thinking, talking, communications. Avoid big purchases, important meetings and important repairs. Mercury retrograde times are for review, reassessment and rest. Our minds are overloaded from the last Mercury retro. Our minds need to assess what we’ve done since October—eliminating what is not needed, keeping what’s important, preparing for new information in the next three months (till mid-May). Mercury in Aquarius retrograde … we reinvent ourselves, seek the unusual, we don’t hide, we’re just careful. We live in two worlds; outer appearances and inner reckonings, with both sides of our brain activated. Yet, like the light of the Gemini twins, one light waxes (inner world), the other (outer realities) wanes. Like Virgo, we see what’s been overlooked—assessing, ordering and organizing information. It’s an entirely inner process. When speaking we may utter only half of the sentence. We’re in the underworld, closer to Spirit, eyes unseeing, senses alerted, re-doing things over and over till we sometimes collapse. Because we’re in other realms, we’re wobbly, make mistakes, and don’t really know what we want. It’s not a time for decisions. Not yet. It’s a time of review. And completing things. Mercury retro: integration, slowing down, resolution, rapprochement.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of January 23

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Bye Bye Benten!

Benten closing, plus Award-winning gin, a massive burrito and chocolate review

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Scanning the shelves of Deluxe Foods of Aptos, which carries an impressive selection of local and imported wines, I picked up a bottle of Trout Gulch Vineyards Chardonnay 2012, described as “a local favorite” by the busy market.

 

Cremer House

What’s old is cutting-edge again in Felton

 

How are you going to make a tangible difference in your community this year?

Spread more kindness and compassion.