SMC Emeritus Art Gallery to Host Free Opening Reception for Ray McCray Art Exhibition June 27


“Jazz Phenomenon” (detail; collage) is one of the works featured in artist Ray McCray’s solo exhibition in the Emeritus Art Gallery at 1227 Second St., Santa Monica. Opening reception is free and will be held on Thursday, June 27 from 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m. at the gallery, runs June 27-Sept. 6, 2024

The Santa Monica College (SMC) Emeritus Art Gallery presentsa free exhibition of works by Los Angeles–based artist Ray McCrayThe exhibition opens on June 27 and runs through Sept. 6 in the Emeritus Art Gallery at 1227 Second St., Santa Monica.

The opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Thursday, June 27, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the gallery, located on the first floor of the SMC Emeritus Campus, 1227 Second St., in downtown Santa Monica. Parking is available next door in Santa Monica Public Parking Structure No. 2. Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The exhibition and opening reception are free.

The opening reception — the first in-gallery reception since spring 2020 — will be hosted by Emeritus Associate Dean (interim) Guadalupe Salgado, and will feature Emeritus Gallery Curator Jesse Benson in conversation with the artist.

The powerful collection of works on display spans decades of production. Though punctuated by fascinating painting-based constructions, the exhibition is driven largely by McCray’s incredible photo-collage investigations. Equal parts intricate and exuberant, the often 3-D or mixed media collages mine pop-cultural iconography, lifestyle and aesthetics mostly specific to Black American public identity.

Gallery curator Benson noted:

The works offer insight and historical documentation regarding cultural moments and shifts, but beyond that they showcase McCray’s unique perspective as an artist. His specific arrangements of visual information and precision execution are balanced with a pervasive sort of electric energy and the occasional reveal of layered senses of humor and joy within the chaos of contemporary life.

Among the collage-based works in the exhibition will be an abundance of Jazz-era imagery, including McCray’s work “Jazz Phenomenon,” which was formerly on display in the Jazz Bakery in Culver City, CA, as well as a fully collaged-over standing piano that once belonged to Los Angeles Jazz legend John Magruder. Painted works by McCray commonly push toward abstraction, but a few representational elements emerge, such as recurring flocks of simplified flying blackbirds.

Unwilling to be overly precious about his objects, McCray describes his painting process as: “This is urban art. I painted on what ever was available.” As a result, his painted works are imbued with a sense of material and process reality that pushes beyond illusion and into real life. McCray notes artist peers and mentors such as Noah Purifoy, Romare Bearden, Charles Dickson, Timothy Washington, and Alexander Calder as significant influential factors in the development of his practice.

SMC’s widely praised Emeritus program — founded by Santa Monica College in 1975 as a noncredit program to serve the lifelong learning interests of older adults — offers more than 120 noncredit adult education classes and special programs that serve more than 3,000 students each year.

More information is available by visiting or calling 310-434-4306. Exhibition and reception subject to change or cancellation without notice.

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