Amphitheater Officially Dedicates Glen to Grateful Dead Guitarist
Saturday, November 13, 2010
By Hannah Scott
A bronze sculpture of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia's right
hand, missing two-thirds of his middle finger, has been installed at
the Santa Barbara Bowl. The sculpture is located in the Jerry Garcia
Glen, which was officially dedicated during a private reception
Wednesday evening, November 10.
The glen was renovated in summer 2009, and the bronze hand installed
in early September. Just days after the Bowl's last show of the
season, they welcomed one of Garcia's four daughters, Annabelle
Garcia-McLean, to the official dedication ceremony.
The 75-pound, 18-inch-tall bronze hand rests eye-level atop a small
boulder in the wooded glen's stone courtyard, about 150 feet from its
gated entrance. The sculpture, created by artist Tom White, was
commissioned by Scott Brittingham, who is chairman of the American
Classic Campaign for the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation. The
foundation raises money for improvements and beautification.
Brittingham donated $1 million to the glen through his own
Brittingham Family Foundation. A self-described Deadhead a follower
and fan of the Grateful DeadBrittingham saw Garcia live in numerous
shows between 1978 and 1994, before Garcia died from a heart attack in '95.
"Other than his smile and his beard and his long hair, his hand is
one of the most distinctive things about him," Brittingham said.
"He's one of our treasured icons and he played this venue." Those who
know and love Garcia will immediately recognize his guitar-picking
hand, Brittingham said. After a wood-chopping accident at age four,
part of Garcia's middle finger was amputated. With only half the
middle digit, the hand became a known symbol for Garcia"a little
Jerry-sign," Brittingham said.
A dedication plaque was installed on the boulder below the bronze
hand, listing the bands Garcia played with, a quote from one of his
songs, and several descriptions of him. These include "Cosmic
Explorer," as suggested by Garcia-McLean. "That's how Daddy saw
himself," Brittingham recalled her saying.
Beyond donating the $1 million for the glen renovations, Brittingham
also wanted to donate a sculpture. While searching for the right
artist for the job, he said, "All roads led to Tom White." Also a
self-described rock and roll fan, White spent more than four months
sculpting the piece. He referenced ink prints and photographs of
Garcia's hand to make it as accurate as possible, he said, right down
to the wrinkles and folds of the palm. The out-of-state artist said
he plans to visit Santa Barbara soon to see the sculpture in its installation.
And by the time White visits the Bowl, the improvements and
beautifications there will have come even farther. The $40 million
campaign project, including improvements for the stage, pavilion
roof, terrace, concession area, overlook, and lower plaza, started in
'94 and should be completed within the next two years, according to
Currently, all $1 million donations will be matched by an anonymous
donor. "The Bowl is so aesthetically pleasing and acoustically
blessed," Brittingham said, "and as we continue to improve the
facility, we [will continue to get] great artists."