Scott Shapiro with a piece of his extensive Dead poster collection.

Scott Shapiro with a piece of his extensive Dead poster collection.

by MegAnne Liebsch

Scott Shapiro has loved the Grateful Dead for more than 40 years. On Friday, June 10, he hopes to share his love for the famous rock band with hundreds of guests at an event he has titled “Unlimited Devotion: An Evening of Goodness.”

Starting at 7 p.m., guests will arrive at the Mainline Art Center in Haverford to enjoy food, music played by a Grateful Dead tribute band, and Shapiro’s own collection of 82 original Grateful Dead posters and photographs.

In hosting this event, Shapiro hopes to recreate the feeling of a Grateful Dead concert, which he says is different than anything else he’s ever experienced.

“In the world of the Dead, weird stuff happens, and it’s mostly good,” Shapiro said with a laugh. “I want a lot of people to come and share the experience.”

The centerpiece of the event will be Shapiro’s collection of Grateful Dead posters. He began collecting the posters on his own, but many of them are gifts from his father-in-law, Gerald Schultz, who owns The Antique Gallery in Chestnut Hill. The posters were original advertisement posters that were hung in bookstores and coffee shops to publicize Grateful Dead concerts.

“They’re beautifully created – they’re works of art,” Shapiro said, explaining that the posters were created over several decades, documenting a change in American culture and art style. “They tell a story outside of the Dead.”

As part of the collection, Shapiro also owns several Herb Greene photographs, including the famous “Jerry on Broadway.” Greene is a professional photographer who became famous for photographing the Dead and other San Francisco based bands in the 1960s.

Usually, the posters decorate Shapiro’s office at West Boca Metals in Narberth. Shapiro decided, however, that he wanted to use the posters to give back to others, as part of this Grateful Dead celebration.

“This is an evening of giving,” he said. “To have something and give it to other people is the greatest thing you can do.”

Shapiro also wants the event to honor his father-in-law, Schultz, who found, bought and gave Shapiro most of the posters. “It’s a recognition of my father-in-law to let the world know what kind of person he is.”

The evening will also feature a guest appearance by Wavy Gravy, a Grateful Dead follower and Woodstock host. In the 1960s, Gravy began dressing like a clown in order to avoid being arrested for his activist demonstrations, and he has kept the costume to this day. Gravy also founded the Seva Foundation, which brings health care to impoverished communities around the world.

When Shapiro found out that Gravy is actually the father-in-law of the Mainline Art Center’s executive director, Amie Potsic, Shapiro invited Gravy to “An Evening of Goodness” to celebrate Gravy’s 80th birthday, which is May 15. Shapiro was excited to give Gravy the chance to come to Philadelphia and visit with his family because Gravy does not often have the funds to travel.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. with a VIP reception, and then the event will open to everyone at 7 p.m. Tickets for general admittance cost $250, and some of the proceeds will go to supporting the Rex Foundation, a Grateful Dead charity that gives grants to other worthy causes and the Mainline Art Center.

During the event, there will be food and music played by the Grateful Dead tribute band Splintered Sunlight. A specially designed poster commemorating “An Evening of Goodness” will be auctioned off, along with some raffle items.

As Shapiro said, “It’s going to be art and music and fun and Wavy.”

The celebration will continue on Saturday, June 11, at the Bryn Mawr Film Festival, where there will be a showing of Saint Misbehavin’, a documentary of Gravy’s life. The show starts at 11 a.m. and will be followed by a meet and greet with Gravy himself. Shapiro’s poster collection will also be open for viewing on Saturday at the Mainline Art Center from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All are invited to take part in this weekend long celebration. Tickets can be bought for any of the events at www.unlimiteddevotion.eventbrite.com.

Shapiro hopes it will be a weekend of good feelings and experiences. He sees the event, not just as a charitable contribution to the Rex Foundation and Mainline Art Center but also as a unique experience that he can give his guests.

“Nothing’s ever happened like this before in Philadelphia ever,” Shapiro said.

For info and tickets, see www.mainlineart.org/events/event/unlimited-devotion-an-evening-of-goodness/

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