Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Sep 03rd
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

 

You Are What You Post

Online personality algorithms put astrological profiles to shame, but UCSC psychologists are raising questions about sharing personal data

 

Venus Direct, Mercury Retro Soon, Honoring Our Labors

As Burning Man (nine days, Aug. 30-Sept. 7 in the sign of Virgo) burns in the hot white desert sands, a petal of the rose created by retrograde Venus and the twelve-petaled Sun in Virgo’s petals unfold. All of us are on the burning ground (Leo) in the womb (cave of the heart) of the mother (Virgo), gestating for humanity once again (each year) a new state of consciousness. Both Virgo and Cancer, feminine (receptive energies) signs, are from our last solar system (Pleiades). When humanity first appeared on Earth we were nurtured by the mother, a matriarchy of energies (on islands in the Pacific). Eve, Isis and Mary are part of the lineages of our ancient Mother. Overseen by the Pleiades, the Earth (matter, mater, the mother) in that last solar system was imbued with intelligence (Ray 3). As we move toward autumn, another mother, Ceres realizes she has mere weeks left with her beloved daughter, Persephone. Persimmon and pomegranate trees prepare for autumn, their colors signs of hope as the light each day continues to dim. Sunday, Venus in Leo turns stationary direct, yet continues in her shadow until Oct. 9 (when retrograde Mercury turns direct). Slowly our newly assessed values emerge from the Venus retrograde. We thought in Venus retro how to use our resources more effectively. Mercury retrogrades Sept. 17. Monday is Labor Day. Let us honor the labor of everyone, all life a “labor.” Let us honor Labor Day and all those who have “served” (labored for) us this past year. We honor their labors. We honor the labor of our parents, those who have loved us. We honor our own labors, too. We are all in service, we are all laboring. We are all valuable.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Girl Gone Wild

’70s SF recalled in raw, poignant ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sushi Garden

Local sushi empire expands to Scotts Valley

 

Do you overshare online?

I don’t think so. I just post things about my life, like successful things. Sometimes I just like sharing different news that I find interesting, or favorite artists, clothes, music. I like to post photos. Natalia Delgado, Santa Cruz, Server

 

McIntyre Vineyards

I recently met up with three friends for dinner at Sanderlings at Seascape Beach Resort. We chose to eat outside so we could watch the sun set over the ocean, but the Aptos fog rolled in and swallowed it up.

 

Sustainable Supper

The Homeless Garden Project’s Sustain Supper series supports its award-winning programs