Ray George [1933-2005]
Abstraction was Ray George’s concern throughout his career. The love of drawing was at the heart of all Ray’s artwork. Geometry and its infinite permutations delighted the artist. The exploration of a variety of art media on paper and all the possibilities whether direct or through printmaking processes was a lifelong concern; graphite and hairspray were the foundation of much of his adventurous abstraction. I remember Ray once saying that he feared color…one would never suspect such in the work we are exhibiting; his involvement with color opens and closes geometric space, suggests atmosphere and light; it appeals to our emotions; it will surprise.
Ray George began exhibiting in the early 60s and competed and showed solo and group until his death; he loved getting his work out there and the interaction with the public. Amongst well over a hundred exhibitions, a few of that are notable include Delta National, Arkansas 2004; Jean Albany Gallery, Chicago 2003; City Arts Venue, Springfield IL 2002; Printworks Gallery, Chicago 1988; Munson Williams Proctor Museum of Art, Utica NY1984; St. Lawrence University, Canton NY 1973 and way back Waterloo Municipal Galleries, Iowa 1960. Too many public and private collections to list, his work is found in the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln MA, Library of Congress, Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield MA, Wichita Art Museum, British Museum in London UK, and the Smithsonian Institute.
His work was critically acknowledged from the start of his career; 1966 he was listed in Prize Winning Graphics, 1976 he was awarded a grant from the famous Tamarind Lithographic Institute and a Visual Arts Grant in 1985 from the National Endowment of the Arts. A wonderful book titled Ray George: The Life of a Printmaker was published posthumously by Bronze Man Books on the occasion of his 2005 retrospective solo exhibit at Millikin University…it is available to look at here at the gallery.
Besides being a prolific artist, Ray was a gifted and dedicated teacher. His colleague James Butler at Illinois State University had this to say, “Ray had a remarkable work ethic and served as a role model for his students and colleagues alike, with intense studio activities, sending work to exhibitions, and providing workshops around the country. He was a generous person who was eager to share his time, talent and knowledge. Ray George was a special person…” [Ray George: The Life of a Printmaker; p.9].