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Joan Baez's Portraits Celebrate Anthony Fauci, Kamala Harris and Other 'Mischief Makers'

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Joan Baez’s new art show at Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley features portraits of her favorite change-makers. (Marina Chavez)

Joan Baez’s work as an activist hasn’t stopped at music-making. Over the past few years, the renowned Bay Area-based folk singer and songwriter has picked up a paintbrush in lieu of her guitar to create paintings of the change-makers she most admires.

Mischief Makers, Baez’s new art show at Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley, features the artist’s strong-lined, characterful portraits of the likes of Anthony Fauci, Kamala Harris, Greta Thunberg and Colin Kaepernick.

“During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in a moment of inspiration, I painted infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci (he prefers ‘Tony’) and posted his portrait on the Internet with a single word next to his image: ‘TRUST’,” writes Baez in the artist statement accompanying the exhibition. “It went viral.”

In addition to contemporary trailblazers, the show also includes portraits of iconic figures from the recent and more distant past, such as Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Eleanor Roosevelt.

The exhibition follows a similar Mischief Makers show featuring other portraits of favorite social change heroes Baez created in response to her feelings about the political climate in 2017.


“When I developed the first Mischief Makers exhibit in 2017, the portraits I painted reflected what I hoped would be an antidote to the toxic politics poisoning the nation, an escape from the perilous mire into which we as a population were sinking,” Baez writes. “I saw our situation as one that could certainly not last. But it has lasted.”

Even though the political winds are starting to shift in the country, Baez hopes her new set of portraits will continue to encourage people—in the words of the late congressman John Lewis—to “make good trouble.”

‘Mischief Makers 2’ runs through Feb. 14 at Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley. Details here.

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