Artist relevancy is a subjective, obscure topic that is exhaustively disputed. Nonetheless, those involved with Tim Ray’s legacy have a strong argument in favor of his lasting influence in the Fargo-Moorhead art community.
With a career spanning over 40 years before his death in 2012, Ray diligently pushed his creative processes into a wide variety of media — including painting, printmaking, drawing, collage, and others — all while adhering to classic technique and aesthetic principles.
As a professor in the Art & Design program at Minnesota State University Moorhead, Ray was as dedicated to the growth of his students as he was to his own fervent studio practice.
“One of the things that he allowed people to see was putting the theoretical elements and principles of design to practice and to be able to talk about the work and explain yourself,” Ann Braaten, Ray’s longtime partner, said. “Critiques were always something that was really important.”
Ray’s impact was felt communally following his untimely death. He battled cancer for four years, and prior to his passing he collaborated with a select few local curators to prepare retrospective exhibitions.
One relationship transpired with Mark Weiler, owner and director of ecce gallery. According to Braaten, the initial purpose of the retrospective collection was to give an overarching perspective to Ray’s career. Essentially, an entire lifetime’s worth of work was condensed into digestible movements.
“People have seen so many of the collages, the acrylic work on paper,” Braaten said. “A lot of people think that is the body of his work, and people kind of got used to it … I guess it kind of shows the depth or the breadth of an artist’s work.”
Since the original “Raytrospective” in 2013, an annual collection of unseen pieces is scheduled at the gallery.
“People have very short memories,” Weiler said. “I think people forget so easily how much impact someone had on a community in a short amount of time. It’s important to remember that on an annual basis … His life speaks through his work; it’s having the closest thing to Tim being here himself.”
In terms of selecting the pieces, each show takes on an individual identity. Taking work from different time periods and movements creates a more recognizable narrative.
This collection has a range of work from 1969 to 2008. Its goal is to create parallels between Ray’s drawings and how they relate to the acrylic collages.
“Drawing is something that you see as human,” Weiler said. “I feel that pencil drawings are different in that way because you have that immediate connection through the hand of the artist. Unlike collage because they can sometimes mimic digital representation if you aren’t familiar with the material … drawing with pencil is a very understood human action.”
WHEN: Until Feb. 22
WHERE: ecce gallery, 216 Broadway N.
MORE INFO: 701-298-3223, ecce216.com