If you’re a fan of Sixties’ music you might recall Jethro Tull’s album “Stand Up.” Remember that wonderful album cover? The person who created the woodcut for the cover is one of the most passionate and creative people I have ever known. His name is Jimmy Grashow.
Jimmy and I were sitting at his kitchen table not long ago, sharing a pot of coffee, when the Jethro Tull album cover came up. “How did you get the Jethro Tull gig, Jimmy?” I asked. (Off the album” “Living in the Past.”)
“I knew someone. Simple as that. I did a bunch of album covers through Columbia records, The Yardbirds, Tom Rush, Ramsey Lewis and a number of classical music covers, as well.”
The conversation quickly veered. If you know Jimmy, you know that he often returns to one of his favorite subjects, passion. “Why, in your opinion, do some talented artists succeed while others don’t?”
“Talent is part of the quotient, Charlie, but I don’t think it’s the biggest piece. In order to be what I consider a successful artist there must be passion and process. Those are the two big pieces,” Jimmy said.
Jimmy talked about his passion for creating. “I can sit and work on the most miniscule details for an entire day and at end of the day, I’ll think, ‘What am I, freakin’ crazy?’” I immediately understood. I mentioned to Jimmy that there are times when I’ll work on a story’s sentence for hours and in the end I’ll discard it. “But that’s passion, Charlie. The ability to have an idea and to follow that idea through, wherever it leads you.”
Process is the other part of the success quotient that Jimmy speaks about. “Some think in terms of beginning and ends. They’ll say, ‘I can’t wait until I’m finished,’ while an artist will get lost in the process. There’s a big difference. Building, creating, doing,” he said. “Build it piece by piece wherever its going. I get completely immersed in the process. I think you must do that in order to create.”
Jimmy’s favorite medium is cardboard. His success with cardboard is well known, and standing in his studio, surrounded by beautifully colored, cardboard peacocks, monkeys, an enormous Uncle Sam, which he’s working on for a Memorial Day Parade, and an entire cardboard city is to be surrounded by Jimmy’s life and art. “You can tell an artist not by what he does, but by the material he uses, Charlie. Some use stone, some use metals. I use cardboard and paper.”
One of Jimmy’s recent works, Corrugated Fountain, (see below) recalls the Trevi Fountain in Rome. A positively brilliant work, it is the perfect expression of Jimmy’s exploration of man and mortality. Jimmy told Art Daily, “I wanted to make something heroic in its concept and execution with full awareness of its poetic absurdity. Water and cardboard cannot exist together. I wanted to try to make something eternal out of cardboard. To work in the face of mortality is the idea that made Corrugated Fountain an irresistible project for me.”
For some incredible photos of the Jimmy’s fountain, click here Corrugated Fountain