Art way of life for ENMU graduate

Clyde Davis: CNJ columnist

As I walk into Randy Wray’s house on W. 14th St., the first thing I notice is “The Garden”.

It couldn’t be otherwise; the four foot square surface jumps out at you; invites you to stroll its paths; draws you into the rainbow of rubies and pinks that form the flowers, of bluegrays and shadings that compose the rocks, of dust green to forest green layers that comprise the grasses.
Is it a real place ? Only Wray knows for sure, but he refers to it as “… a place I’d like to be … a Mediterranean garden altered slightly to fit the southwest.”

The southwest is home to this local artist, always has been and always will be. The 1972 graduate of Texico High School is part of a large family, and most of the members still live in the local area. His work reflects the themes and landscapes of the area, in pieces such as “Caprock”, a smaller oil painting of the northeast section of our state.

Wray has not meant stay at home, however. Travel has been a part of what has fed and nurtured Wray’s art, as he has lived and worked in places such as Chicago and New York, Memphis and, yes, even a stretch spent in Peru and Chile. Prior to pursuing art full-time, Wray’s successful first career in hair styling gave him the opportunity to live and work in different environments.

Almost every artist I know, self included, has an on-going personal statement — a piece of art which she is constantly developing. Usually this particular piece is not for sale — perhaps not even movable — and holds intense personal meaning.

This would describe Wray’s “Miracle Wreath”, a grapevine-based collage of three dimensional objects — crosses, crucifixes, religious medals, scapulars and very small holy statues gathered over the course of years to reflect a journey of faith. To gaze at this piece causes one to enter a shrine of the heart.

Polar opposite to this is “Molly”, which, like its model, is guaranteed to bring a smile or outright laughter to one’s mood. Molly the dog was the inspiration for “Molly” the painting, but the portrait concentrates on her rather prominent nose.

Art was not a discovery for Wray; it was something which was always there. During his growing up, relatives made and continue to make handmade dolls, for example, dolls which evoke character and childhood memories in all of us. In one room of Randy’s house, some of these dolls are perched on the walls — mostly human, but some of them whimsical animal characters.

Other relatives quilted or did handwork. Artistic expression was not something “out there,” for Wray; it is a normal and everyday part of living. Indeed, what is a hairstylist but an artist in a different medium?

Having graduated Eastern New Mexico University in December 2004 with a degree in fine arts, Wray is marketing his work in the local area, around New Mexico and in Colorado; he has immediate plans to turn the “mother-in-law house” behind his 14th Street home into a studio/gallery. A talented and unique voice among the local artists, wish Wray luck.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at:
clyde_davis@yahoo.com