Imagine my surprise when I walked into the chiropractic offices of Craig Maurer last week and was greeted by paintings of Elvis Presley, the Dalai Lama, Bette Midler, Yo-Yo Ma, Andy Warhol and Martin Luther King Jr. among many others! The artworks exuded light and playfulness and consumed every available inch of wall space throughout the small, darkish rooms.
These colorful mixed-media portraits are part of a treasure trove of 178 pieces that Maurer and his son rescued from storage and recently trucked to Napa from Los Angeles.
Craig Maurer is the youngest son of Sidney Randolph Maurer, a prolific visual “pop” artist, who at age 17 was hired as an assistant art director at Columbia Records upon graduation from New York’s School of Industrial Art in 1944.
“I didn’t know what the hell I was doing,” he said in an article by Ken Hall in “The Framer,” “but everybody else was off fighting the war, so I got the job.”
By the 1950s, high-fidelity and stereo sound permeated the music industry and as a result, Sid Maurer began freelancing for RCA Records, creating hundreds of iconic album covers with fellow artist and, later, friend, Andy Warhol.
While Warhol moved into commercial work, Maurer, who was also an accomplished trumpet player, stayed closely connected to the music and entertainment industries, taking on assignments from MGM, CBS, Roulette Records and other independent labels. At night, he sharpened his skills as a painter working on large abstracts with oils, watercolors, acrylics and dyes influenced by Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline.
When pop music and the “British Invasion” pervaded the ‘60s musical charts, Maurer worked with British recording artist Donovan, creating album covers, posters and even a movie for Warner Brothers. By the ‘90s, however, his passion for painting prompted a permanent move to Atlanta where Maurer, who recently turned age 90, is still actively creating new work.
“He’s a very colorful guy,” Craig Maurer said in describing his dad, “and he lives and loves art. This is what makes him happy — his painting.”
Craig Maurer’s “gallery” of images includes samples from a few of his father’s numerous themed catalogs: cultural icons (Jennifer Aniston); sports legends (Muhammad Ali); personalities (Frank Sinatra, Johnny Depp); and as Maurer describes, “rap guys, soccer guys, royalty, comics and Bollywood.”
His dad also created an endangered species series and 30 paintings he named, “The Vanishing Georgia Series,” highlighting historical moments and key events in the history of that state.
And then there’s “Maurer’s Marilyns,” where one original — of five created — is now on display at the Dennis Rae Gallery in St. Helena, together with four additional Maurer works. (To view all five of the Marilyns, read about Maurer’s friendship with Monroe and a description of his inimitable artistic technique, visit museummasters.com/artist3.shtml.)
Craig Maurer shared with me that neither father nor son has cared much about or been driven by money. A Napa resident for 16 years, he enjoys building boats, sailing and playing his Cajun accordion as well as running his practice. By necessity, he’s looking for a way to appropriately display and sell many of the artworks (for information, email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Until Sidney Maurer’s canvasses find new homes, they are delightful ambassadors of realignment. My back never felt better after that visit!