Local documentarian and former gallerist Joshua Hassel goes back a long way with artist Rex Ray, whose beautiful works have most recently been seen at MCA Denver and T Gallery. Ray, who grew up in Colorado Springs before moving on to San Francisco, used to show work at Hassels now-defunct gallery, where the filmmaker first glommed onto the artists fascinating character.
Hes a very charismatic guy, Hassel says. Whats so interesting about this work is that he crosses over from graphic art to the fine-art world. Thats a forbidden thing in the art world; youre not supposed to do that. Youre supposed to either be a designer or a fine artist. And its amazing. Its beautiful work, though in the fine-art world, work is not supposed to be beautiful.
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He filters a lot of what Miró and Matisse did, but updates it through a modern, 50s lens, Hassel adds. Rays gorgeous paintings and other creations, from rock posters to wallpaper designs, are more than enough testament to that. With that in mind, Hassel followed the artist over two years, carefully capturing what makes Ray so interesting, in hopes of creating a non-elitist artist portrait. It ends up being Rex retelling his story how he became an artist, Hassel explains.
The resulting PBS documentary, Rex Ray: How to Make a Rex Ray, was made for KBDI-TV/Channel 12 and will air on the station at the end of the month. But you can preview it today in the shadow of Rays actual work at 3 p.m. at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, where one of his large-scale paintings is currently hanging (it comes down tomorrow). The screening is free with museum admission; for details, go to www.mcadenver.org or call 303-298-7554.
Sun., Jan. 3, 3 p.m., 2010