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June 16 Gibson Art & Guitars Festival to Feature James A. Willis, Gibson’s First Artist-In-Residence

On June 16, The Music Zoo in Roslyn, New York, will present the Gibson Art & Guitars Festival featuring James A. Willis, Gibson’s first artist-in-residence. The event is free and open to the public.

This event will mark the opening of a two-week exhibition of Willis’ artwork and will feature the largest collection of Gibson Custom Shop guitars on display in one place, ever. Gibson is bringing them up in a trailer from Nashville.

Among the special guests is Conan O’Brien’s longtime guitarist, Jimmy Vivino, who will appear noon to 2 p.m.

Willis, who was born and raised in Georgia, moved to New York City to study traditional painting techniques under realist painters David Leffel and Greg Kruetz at the Art Students League of New York. Best known for his impressionistic oil paintings of Manhattan, he’s been successful in many media, including leather, metal and sculpture.

All of these talents come together in his partnership with Gibson. You will see some one-of-a-kind guitars and the more traditional artwork that inspired them. The James A. Willis exhibition will be on display at The Music Zoo for two weeks starting June 16.

From The Music Zoo:

"We first met Willis at the 2012 NAMM Show in Anaheim, California, where he was displaying the first of the artwork he has created in conjunction with the Gibson Custom Shop. We saw gorgeously painted Les Pauls, hand-carved pickguards, even tooled leather. Willis is Gibson’s first artist-in-residence, a program that seeks to advance the arts around the world by supporting exceptionally talented artists.

"We'll be breaking out all the killer Custom Shop pieces that we’ve stockpiled in our warehouse. Combined with what Gibson is bringing, we should have hundreds of the best guitars on display.

"Did we mention that you could walk away from this event with a free Gibson Custom Shop guitar? Sometime on June 16, we’ll draw a name out of a hat for a new Gibson Custom Shop Limited Non-Reverse Firebird in Silver Mist (List price: $4,186). This contest is free."

For more information about the event and the Gibson guitar contest, visit The Music Zoo's website blog. The Music Zoo is at 55 Lumber Road, Roslyn, New York.

Damian Fanelli

Damian is editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine. From 1998 to 2014, he was one third of Mister Neutron, an instrumental rock act that toured the universe and elsewhere and released three albums via Austin-based Deep Eddy Records. These days he performs with several New York City-area bands and can often be spotted with one of his many, many, many B-bender-equipped guitars. In past lives he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor – and he still can’t believe he got to write the liner notes for the latest SRV box set.