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Rock 14/09/2005

Jimi Hendrix: Can You See Me? - A Life Through the Lens, San Francisco Art Exchange's New Exhibition

SAN FRANCISCO (San Francisco Art Exchange, - September 18, 2005 marks the 35th anniversary of the death of one of the most influential and visionary forces in contemporary music, Jimi Hendrix. In the four short years that this pioneering artist changed the face of rock and roll - conjuring sounds out of a guitar that no one had previously imagined, much less played - Hendrixbecame a legend in the truest sense of the word.

"He had a very brief career," says San Francisco Art Exchange Director Theron Kabrich, "but no one can deny how unique and legendary he and his music are. Since I've been working with many photographers and artists who knew Jimi, worked him, hung out with him, it just seemed we had all the ingredients to put together the greatest pictorial tribute that could be assembled anywhere."

Together, Kabrich and the London-based photographic agent Raj Prem have curated Jimi Hendrix: Can You See Me? - A Life Through The Lens, a visual homage to the music icon that is the largest, most diverse, and most in-depth ever realized. While Hendrix's stratospheric career existed well before the advent of MTV and 24/7 media coverage, it was extensively chronicled in still images by many of the world's most celebrated rock photographers, by people Jimi worked and played with and by fellow artists. Over two dozen of these friends and luminaries have contributed pieces to the show, which opens at SFAE September 24 and runs through November 5. The first of its kind to focus on Jimi Hendrix, the exhibition features both iconic shots of Hendrix and previously unseen images, all to be available in limited editions ranging from 18" x 24" to 4' x 5' in size

After several years as a back-line guitarist for stars including Sam Cooke and Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix's meteoric rise to global superstardom began in London in the fall of 1966. The newly formed Jimi Hendrix Experience became an instant sensation, and the 1967 release of their astonishing debut album, the psychedelic masterpiece Are You Experienced?, broadcast Hendrix's guitar virtuosity to the world. When the Experience first played Stateside in June '67 at the Monterey International Pop Festival, the Rolling Stones' Brian Jones introduced Jimi onstage as, "the most exciting guitarist I've ever heard." David Crosby recalls, "He could play better than our best guys and he did it while he was dancing ... while being completely outrageous." Clapton has said, "I couldn't believe how good he was ... It was a really difficult thing for me to deal with, but I just had to surrender and say, 'This is fantastic.'"

During his lifetime, each milestone of Hendrix's career was nothing less than groundbreaking and, post mortem, his legend has only grown. Reactions from fans, critics and artists make it clear his appeal went far beyond the music. There was a spark, a sensuality, a phenomenal force of personality, an undeniable authenticity, an innate sense of style and an incandescent spirit to Jimi Hendrix, all of which translate remarkably in the striking images to be displayed at SFAE.

Acclaimed rock shooter Bruce Fleming, the official photographer of Hendrix's initial U.K. period, explains, "The great thing about Jimi was that he didn't pose ... He thought telling the truth was a much better deal than telling lies." That is fantastically clear in each and every revealing image of SFAE's show, taken by a stellar group of photographers who had personal as well as professional access to Jimi, making their historic work all that more remarkable.

In addition to Fleming, featured artists who will attend the exhibition's opening night include Bay Area natives and pre-eminent rock photographers Jim Marshall and Ethan Russell, and the U.K.'s Gered Mankowitz, long the Stones' official photographer, whose images of Hendrix are world famous. Also in from London will be David Redfern, perhaps the world's top jazz photographer, who memorably photographed Hendrix at Royal Albert Hall in '69. In from Santa Fe, NM will be Baron Wolman, Rolling Stone's first chief photographer, who's said, "He was a fabulous subject ... I could not take a 'bad' picture of Jimi." France's Dominique Tarle, best known for his photo coverage of the making of Exile On Main Street, visited Paris in '66 with Jimi, and will attend, as will Hendrix's longtime recording engineer Eddie Kramer, whose photo rarities document studio magic. Also on hand will be Karl Ferris, photographer for Are You Experienced?, and who captured Jimi at Albert Hall.

As of this writing, the complete list of exhibitors is: Eddie Caraeff, who photographed history at Monterey Pop when he was only 15, and will unveil images that have never even been printed before, including a small gem of Hendrix shooting pool; Henry Diltz (famed for scores of classic covers including Sweet Baby James, Morrison Hotel and Dij` Vu); Karl Ferris; Bruce Fleming; Eric Hayes; Dezo Hoffman (celebrated for his Beatles images); Fillmore West photographer Robert Knight; Eddie Kramer; Gered Mankovitz; Jim Marshall; Barry Levine, who shot at Woodstock; David Montgomery, who shot Electric Ladyland; famed S.F. based graphic artist Stanley Mouse; rock star Grace Slick, who contributed a painting; Britain's David Redfern, who captured Jimi at Monterey; Ethan Russell (Let It Be, Who's Next), film director and photographer Jerrold Schatzberg (who shot Blonde On Blonde's cover); Dominique Tarle; Baron Wolman; and Rolling Stone and fine artist Ronnie Wood, who was Hendrix's roommate early on.

"Back in those days," says Ronnie Wood, "all us skinny white British kids were trying to look cool and sound black. And there was Hendrix, the ultimate in black cool. Everything he did was natural and perfect." Come in for a close up look during Jimi Hendrix: Can You See Me? - A Life Through The Lens, September 24 through November 5 at SFAE.

Co-founded in 1983 by Theron Kabrich and James Hartley, SFAE is a leader in international fine art sales and publishing, with a global reputation as premiere purveyors of world-class pop culture imagery including paintings, illustrations, photography and more. SFAE has long represented the art of Alberto Vargas and Ronnie Wood, famed album cover artist Roger Dean, fantasy-genre master Boris Vallejo, and many noted rock/celebrity photographers. Their gallery is at 458 Geary Street in downtown San Francisco.

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