Grace Slick says in her old age, she couldn't sing the song that propelled Jefferson Airplane to stardom without first looking up the lyrics.
She can, however, effortlessly paint the namesake white rabbit.
In her younger years as a hippie goddess, Slick used the rabbit and other inhabitants of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland in a "weird" Spanish march she wrote as a metaphor for the psychedelic experience (along with "Somebody to Love," it cemented Jefferson Airplane as a rock 'n' roll icon).
The rabbit smokes smokes marijuana now, and it wears a cape in appearances throughout Slick's "420 Collection," a series of paintings she uses to advocate for the legalization of marijuana, and pick up some extra cash to supplement her rock ‘n’ roll royalties.
"It’s like super mouse or whatever. It's a fun, amusing way of presenting the situation or the benefits or the detriments of whatever I’m talking about," she said of the character, dubbed "Rescue Rabbit."
A Malibu resident, Slick has displayed the collection the past couple of years at galleries across the country. The exhibition arrives Thursday in Santa Monica to a space where she’s not likely to find objections to her work.
An exhibition of "420 Collection" will be held in conjunction with the opening of Golden State Collective Cannabis Lab's new site in Santa Monica. At Pennsylvania Avenue, the lab tests marijuana strands for THC potency, pesticides and contaminants such as molds, spores and bacteria, according to its website.
Once called "elegantly wasted" by a New York Times book reviewer, and now more than a decade sober, Slick said she doesn't actually smoke marijuana. Here's how else the Time's Alex Kuczynski summed her up in 1998:
The archetype of the outrageous female rock star, Slick was comfortable naked on stage, took drugs, made plans to dose Richard Nixon with LSD on a trip to the White House, got arrested a few dozen times, went through rehab a few dozen times and named her daughter god with a lower-case ''g'' (her daughter now goes by the name China Kantner).
Silver-haired and cognizant of her age (she has said old people doing rock 'n' roll is pathetic), Slick still maintains her bad girl persona, she just expresses it through a different medium.
"People don’t come up and tell me, 'I had colon cancer and my ass was bleeding,' but they do commiserate that marijuana is so helpful and that it should be available at the very least medicinally," she told Patch of her artwork before a tangent about the stupidity of Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign.
Slick wants marijuana legalized, she said, because aside from minimal side effects—paranoia, hunger, dumbness—it’s a mild drug that's less harmful than prescription medication.
"And people smoke it anyway... let's tax the s*** out of it and look at where you go with those taxes," she said.
In one of Slick's paintings, "Rescue Rabbit" carries a briefcase as he prepares to jet off to the Capitol to lobby for the cause.
Though her art, the content of which extends beyond marijuana-themed pieces, did well 10 to 12 years ago when she first picked up a paint brush, lately "it's in the dumps," Slick said, blaming the economic downturn.
"Like rock ‘n’ roll… this is commercial art. It has to be. I'm not trying to be precious," she said. "I don’t live in SoHo. I don't have New York art dealers telling their rich friends what to buy."
The full collection, including prints of previously-purchased originals, will be for sale through from 6-9 p.m. Thursday.
On Tuesday morning, she put the finishing touches on a less-cartoonish piece.
As Slick herself described it, the painting depicts a hand clasping a bouquet of flowers extended toward a frail patient whose mouth is covered by a surgical mask.
"The person who is sick looking at him handing him flowers like ‘OK thanks... but I don’t think you get it… I’m in so much pain.’"
"I have a file full of ideas… I don’t have that, whatever it is when you don’t have ideas. What I have is not enough time to do everything that I'd like to do," she said.
Slick will appear from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Thursday premiere. The cannabis lab is at 3110 Pennsylvania Ave. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Marijuana Policy Project.