“The 60s were an amazing time,” says this month�s cover artist, Peter Max. The period was also amazing for Max. Through his art, he helped define the cultural landscape.
As Max describes it, he stumbled into the work that made him an icon. He�d studied art for years, but considered himself a realist painter. �I could paint you and you wouldn�t be able to tell whether it was a photograph or a painting from two or three feet away,� he says. Yet, when he sought advertising work, Max�s gifts got him nowhere.
Simultaneously, Max painted �astronomical fantasies� for his own entertainment. An art director spotted them in Max�s portfolio and persuaded Max to display them. �I walked out with 14 advertising projects,� he says. When he turned in his work, he received 22 more assignments.
From there, Max�s rise was meteoric. Ultimately, he painted Donovan and designed the psychedelic Woodstock stage; he appeared on Johnny Carson and Ed Sullivan�s shows; and, his picture graced the cover of Life magazine. Moreover, he licensed his designs, enabling fans to own Peter Max T-shirts, towels and sheets. During an 18-year hiatus in the 1970s and �80s, when he concentrated on fine art, Max still worked on commissioned projects � like designing a postage stamp � and appeared at exhibitions of his work worldwide.
This month, Max is in town for his show, �Colors of a Better World,� at The Angela King Gallery. Max worked with King when she was affiliated with the Hanson Gallery. �She�s a lovely person with a tremendous sense of art,� he says. After the opening, King will permanently carry Max�s work in New Orleans.
Max � who designed posters for the 1994 Jazz and Heritage Festival and for the 1997 Super Bowl in New Orleans � is happy to revisit �one of the most amazingly creative hubs on this planet.� He expresses empathy and optimism for the city. �There�s nothing like New Orleans. When it comes back, it will be a tremendous highlight for America.�