The Expressionist


Whether cerebral, emotional, or both, an artist's vision can amaze us all. While many of us appreciate the beauty of the visual arts and music that enrich our lives, it is also important to recognize the inventiveness and dedication it takes the artist to present us with a true work of art. Raymond Rogers is one man who is gifted with the ability to captivate us with his unique compositions.

Ray was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1933, and grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ray's father worked as a surveyor and draftsman, and his mother was an accomplished seamstress. Ray discovered at an early age that he could draw well and create art works with ease. Encouraged and complimented by his parents and teachers, young Ray's talent and interest in visual art blossomed. Ray's mother also piqued his interest and appreciation for classical music by listening to Beethoven and Chopin on the radio.

As a student at Will Rogers High School, Ray produced a weekly cartoon series for all three school newspapers. His always supportive art teacher recommended he enter a poster contest for the Tulsa Charity Horse Show in 1952. Ray won the city wide competition at the young age of eighteen with an Art Deco style painting of a horse jumping.

Sports is another area where Ray excelled. Ray played Little League baseball, and wryly remembers, "suffering in the Oklahoma heat because we wore heavy wool uniforms." Later, Ray was a Golden Glove boxer. Ray has also been a lifelong tennis player.

Tulsa University was the next school Ray attended, where he enrolled as an Art Major. At that time, a trip to St. Louis to see a major Van Gogh exhibition made a significant impression on him. This experience persuaded Ray that a painting career would be the best, and most rewarding use of the artistic talent he possessed.

In 1954, Ray transferred to the University of Arkansas, where he studied painting for the first time. During the summer of his second year, he attended an art course at the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center (CSFAC). Renowned artist Robert Motherwell taught the class, and his views and opinions opened Ray's eyes to the ideas and values of painting that he had not previously considered.

Ray continued to pursue his choices/preferences in painting while at the University of AK. He graduated with a B.A. in Art and went on to complete one year of graduate work for a Master of Arts degree.

In late August of 1956, Ray married Mary Lou Benson. She was a music student that he first met at the CSFAC. They moved to California because Ray had decided to transfer to the Master of Arts degree program at the University of California, Berkeley. Willem de Kooning had taught the graduate seminar the year before. For Ray's time there, the Art Seminar at UCB was taught by the abstract expressionist artist, George McNeil, who stressed "integrity" in painting, and his influence on Ray was meaningful. Ray graduated with his Masters in Art in 1957.

After Berkeley, Ray and Mary eventually moved to Manhattan, NY. His studio was in a loft building that afforded ample space for his artwork. The "abstract expressionist" movement dominated the art world at the time. It was the form most of the important painters were exploring ' Pollack, de Kooning, and Kline, to name a few. Ray adopted this style and worked with it for many years. One can see the influence on his early work by his use of canvas, and by the size of his paintings which are typically 6' x 8'. After this first period in his artwork, Ray explored other forms, including "inventionism." David Smith's sculptures, and the music of Vivaldi and Charles Ives inspired Ray. He says, "I wanted to use inventive elements in my art that I admired in their works."

Ray and Mary moved to Brewster, New York in 1961. Their historic home is situated on 14 acres, which affords plenty of room for an art studio. Ray built his first studio, a geodesic dome with skylights, in 1962. He has since replaced it with his current studio, a two-story barn-like building that also has skylights for the all-important natural light.

As a father of three girls, Ray has divided his time between being their caregiver, making repairs and improving the property, and painting. Over the years Ray has exhibited at venues such as the Max Hutchinson Gallery in NYC; Bennington College (VT); Bennett College and Rockland Community College (NY); CSFAC and U.C. Berkeley (while a student); and Wooster School (CT), where he also taught art classes.

Ray has traveled extensively over the years. He has always enjoyed the Southwest part of the US, which affords many naturally beautiful, dramatic landscapes. "I was especially drawn to the visually spectacular Red Rock formations in Sedona, AZ, which is one of the reasons Mary and I bought an adobe style home there. We spend every winter there." Europe, Hawaii and Mexico are other sources of inspiration for Ray. Ray has named some of his paintings after particular locations because of their visual impact on him.

Ray believes that "direct painting" is the most effective way to achieve the ideas and passions that he wants to express by his works of art - either on canvas with oil or acrylic paints, or on paper. He has now chosen to focus on his work in the studio, where he has always been active. "Visual art and classical music have always been intertwined in my life," Ray says. He believes that orchestral music is similar to abstract painting. His ultimate goal would be to achieve a visual expression of what Beethoven has done with music.

Ray Rogers Art Paintings |
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