New book, two exhibits and talks bring
to life colorful Sausalito artist Jean Varda
Anyone who's attentive to mid-century bohemian arts and culture and spends time in or around Sausalito has heard wild tales about that artist of the good life Jean 'Yanko' Varda. But are they true? And was he much of an artist?
Those questions and others will come to the fore during June and July, when Varda and his work will be explored extensively—through the release of a new book, two exhibits, a launch party, and numerous talks.
Varda (1893-1971), who helped birth the entire Sausalito ferryboat artist's scene, had earlier been the centerpiece of an artistic coterie in Monterey and Big Sur. He is best known for his mosaics and collages, but he worked in a variety of other media as well.
"I say that Varda is highly civilized because he is a true bohemian, which is a European phenomenon distinct in style from the American beatnik or hippie," Varda's close friend Alan Watts wrote. "It is distinguished above all by what Montaigne called 'une certain gaieté d'esprit,' for which the recipe is a marvelous amalgamation of exuberance, sensuality, culture, and literacy, salted with that essential recognition of one's own rascality which is the perfect preservative against stuffiness and lack of humanity..."
Many of Varda's tales, unbelievably enough, were true...