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About John Frankel

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Latest John Frankel News

Alameda artist creates Grateful Dead-themed birthday gift for Phil Lesh

Mar 13, 2018

| UPDATED: March 13, 2018 at 10:06 am ALAMEDA — Legendary Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh will get another inkling of what a long strange trip it’s been just before Thursday’s special 78th birthday concert in Port Chester, New York featuring Lesh with the Terrapin Family Band and Steve Winwood of Traffic and other famous rock bands. Renowned Alameda artist John Frankel and members of New York’s Hook and Ladder Fire Company No. 1 of Port Chester combined forces to present Lesh the gift of a Grateful Dead tie-dyed birthday firefighter’s helmet at the famed Capitol Theatre, the venue — in Grateful Dead lore — of the band’s all-time greatest show in November 1970. Fire Capt. Larry Miano of the all-volunteer station racked his brains for something special to give Lesh before the upcoming performance. Like the Alameda Journal Facebook page for neighborhood news and conversation from Alameda and beyond. He surfed the net looking for Grateful Dead ideas, came across Frankel’s Facebook page and saw a San Francisco Giants/Grateful Dead fire helmet that Frankel painted and wears to games on occasion. In a burst of revelation, Miano shouted, “AWWHHH! That’s It! Why didn’t I think of this before?” he said in a telephone interview from New York state. “It’s Phil’s birthday and we gotta get him a helmet,” he mused out loud. He phoned Frankel, a world-class specialist in gold leaf, acid-etched glass art and a pin-striping master who has a penchant for the Grateful Dead. “We gotta make it a little personal,” he told Frankel. He spelled out a few guidelines, including a front helmet shield with the name Phil Lesh and the names of Lesh’s wife, Jill, sons Grahame and Bryan, and grandson Levon. “He knew right from the get what to do,” Miano said. The rest was up to Frankel, who said Miano “gave me free rein,” putting the artist in the challenging position of how to adorn the plain, black leather headgear and make it a fitting tribute. “The fix was in,” said Miano, referring to the cross-continent conspiracy that had just hatched. He shipped the blank helmet to Frankel in the first leg of what would be its own 7,000-mile long, strange trip. Frankel took his first step of the journey by sketching the top of a domed shaped helmet, which divides into eight ribbed, pizza-slice like segments. He envisioned a tie-dye paint surface across the whole helmet and then had to decide which iconic Grateful Dead logos to place and balance across the psychedelic hemisphere. Frankel selected a variety of Dead album cover images including the “lightning skull, Steely” dancing bears and crow, the elemental skeleton with roses, a Terrapin Station turtle playing Lesh’s bass, and an Uncle Sam skeleton tipping his hat. Then began the painstaking, weeks-long task of getting each element and names in proportion and continuity,  despite the multiple, rounded ribs on the helmet’s top surface. Numerous media, materials and techniques went into the art piece. “I used sign paint, car enamel and sign enamel paint, airbrush and multiple, fine-point hand brushes, along with gold leaf for the shield,” said Frankel, describing the meticulous, weeks-long, 30-plus hour project He wrapped the project up in early March, shipped it back to Miano and his fellow Deadhead fire crew and Miano burst into amazement upon opening the package. “Are you kidding me? This is for real?” Miano recalled. The members of his company, whose fire rigs and station house are adorned with Dead logos and song lyrics, were equally blown away. Being a Deadhead at the station “pretty much follows. You pretty much have no choice one you are in the door,” said Miano, a retired police officer and something of a neophyte in band fandom with only 12 years of involvement. Frankel knew he had to add one last touch to the tribute: the name “Cody.” Cody is dead and because of that Phil Lesh is alive and grateful. Like the Alameda Journal Facebook page for neighborhood news and conversation from Alameda and beyond. In December 1998, Cody, an organ donor, combined with Lesh to give him a longer, strange trip and lease on life when Cody’s liver was successfully transplanted into Lesh at the Mayo Clinic. “It’s the smallest thing in the helmet, but it’s the biggest thing,” Miano said. “If it wasn’t for that, Lesh wouldn’t be here.” Frankel said: “I knew that had to be part of the spirit of the helmet. Cody is part of Phil, literally.”

John Frankel Investments

2 Investments

John Frankel has made 2 investments. Their latest investment was in Rescale as part of their Seed - III on July 7, 2015.

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John Frankel Investments Activity

investments chart

Date

Round

Company

Amount

New?

Co-Investors

Sources

7/14/2015

Seed - III

Rescale

$6.4M

Yes

3

8/23/2011

Series A

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$99M

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10

Date

7/14/2015

8/23/2011

Round

Seed - III

Series A

Company

Rescale

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Amount

$6.4M

$99M

New?

Yes

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Co-Investors

Sources

3

10

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