A Brush with Art

Eclectic artist pays tribute to Shankar

Garit Imhoff’s “Letting Go — A Tribute” is a celebration of the musical genius of Pandit Ravi Shankar, under whom Imhoff studied at The California Institute of the Arts in the early 1970’s. Image courtesy of Stephen Whalen Photography
Leucadia artist Garit Imhoff has memorialized world-renowned musician Ravi Shankar in his Arts Alive banner titled “Letting Go — A Tribute,” currently on exhibit at the southwest corner of Leucadia Boulevard and the 101 in Leucadia.The image of the legendary musician playing his sitar under a star-filled sky is a tribute to the iconic Shankar, called “the godfather of world music” by former Beatle George Harrison, and “a national treasure” by the prime minister of India. Shankar resided in Encinitas for twenty years before passing away last December. Garit Imhoff studied under Ravi Shankar at The California Institute of the Arts in the early 1970’s while earning his BFA in Design, later reconnecting at the Center for World Music in San Diego. Shankar’s influence has continued to impact Imhoff’s musical life to this day.

As a singer, songwriter, musician, storyteller, shadow puppeteer, and arts and drama teacher; the multifaceted Imhoff states, “Music, art, education, and entertainment are my passions.”

His background is extremely eclectic, with a history that includes apprenticing with a puppeteer and woodcarver in Indonesia, working in computer animation for the first Star Wars movie, teaching computer animation at CalArts, and working in advertising in Los Angeles. His exploration of world cultures has taken him to Mexico, Central America, India, Thailand, Nepal, Indonesia, Japan and China and Africa. As a professional mbira performer and versatile entertainer specializing in musical storytelling and movement, Imhoff has played in world music ensembles for the past 45 years. He continues to perform with his afro-pop ensemble “Zimbeat,” which shares the musical traditions of Zimbabwe. Far from being a “regular” artist, Imhoff also performs as a professional clown whose alter egos include Sugar Bear, Pirate Pete, Engineer Bill and the magician Garit the Great, and can also be seen offering face painting and balloon creations at the Leucadia Farmers Market. Recipient of a Kenneth A. Picerne Foundation grant, Imhoff introduces youth at the Boys and Girls Club of San Dieguito to music, storytelling, mask making, and puppet traditions from cultures around the world. Under Imhoff’s guidance, the students learn to play instruments including the Mbira Nyunga Nyunga (also known as a thumb piano) from Zimbabwe and the metalophone (similar to the xylophone) from Indonesia. In addition to making their own simple percussion instruments and using music as means of expression, the children design puppets and masks to dramatize their stories. Imhoff inspires his students to share their talents by performing for seniors residing in facilities throughout North San Diego County. Imhoff leads special theatre arts and music programs supported by The California Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, and local community grants, while also working as a substitute teacher specializing in resource and extreme handicapped students. With creativity characterized by its energy and soul, Imhoff states simply, “My art is the expression of my being at any given moment.” He doesn’t allow any of his moments to slip away without filling them with his own brand of purposeful creative expression. Don’t miss the opportunity to bid on Imhoff’s tribute banner at the final auction in the Cardiff Town Center May 26, or by phoning (760) 436-2320. More can be learned about Garit Imhoff and his music by visiting Zimbeat.com.