Artist Robert Cenedella (b. 1940) is introducing his newest painting, So Many Roads (2021), to honor the legacy of the Grateful Dead, the eclectic band that reimagined the way we listen to music by transforming numerous genres, like folk, bluegrass, jazz, country, and blues, into rock and roll. Over the course of 21 months from July 2019 – March 2021, Cenedella completed what he believes to be one of his best works on canvas: A visual jam for one of the greatest bands of all time.
Also known as Grateful Dead 1965-Forever, this historic mural is meant to be enjoyed by all Deadheads. Whether they are seasoned veterans who knew what it was like to be at a show over the past six decades, or newcomers who have just recently gotten onto the proverbial ‘bus,’ their interpretation of this painting will be unique in scope, but similar in awe.
Listening to the Dead’s vast catalog can trigger timeless memories, but when you pair their music with Cenedella’s painting, you begin to relive the experience of all those unforgettable shows, and it leaves you wishing you were still there at that place and time as if the music had never stopped.
The beauty of So Many Roads is that Cenedella managed to concoct a Deadhead’s utopia on canvas that leaves your eyes scrolling from one panel to the next, all while pondering about the deeper meaning behind all the imagery within the painting. Similarly, Robert Hunter and John Perry Barlow effectuated the same sentiment through their lyrics. This painting, like their songs, tells a story that is open to interpretation and resonates with the individual however they deem fit.
Cenedella is proud of this historic tribute painting and his hope is that So Many Roads brings the beholder the same kind of adulation and enjoyment the Grateful Dead has passed along to all Deadheads over the last 57+ years and counting. This triptych masterpiece is dedicated to the Grateful Dead, their family and friends, and all who made everyone’s long strange trip possible since 1965.
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As a New Yorker, Cenedella has seen it all (and then painted it). From subway paintings, street scenes, famous landmarks, and Broadway shows, Bob managed to freeze moments in time and preserve them for our viewing pleasure.
Commissioned by the infamous restauranteur, Sirio Maccioni (1932-2020), Cenedella's Oil on Canvas depicts the elegance and spirit of one of the world’s most preeminent restaurants in its original setting. It is a visual feast, a family portrait including more than 100 celebrities and political habitués over the years such as Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Philip Roth, Paul Newman, Tony Randall, Sophia Loren, and Barbara Walters.
“Yes Art!” was Cenedella’s farewell to art when he decided to join an advertising agency to escape the commercialism of the art world. Predicting that this gimmick-filled show would draw more attention than any other show that year, “Yes Art!” was exhibited in 1965 at the Fitzgerald Gallery. “Yes Art!” was subsequently taken seriously and imitated by many artists, yet without the humor and commentary present in Cenedella’s work.