through Oct. 28.
William Denton Ray presents a
large grouping — I counted 53 pieces — of mixed media works, mostly
reliefs depicting fictitious characters, comprised of 3 or more layers made of
pieces of wood, MDF panel and/or di-bond, with acrylic, colored pencils, ink,
paint markers and spray paint. The work "explores his whimsical imagination of
soulful characters and imaginary deities," according to the exhibition text.
Whimsical and imaginative are
good words to describe Ray's art indeed. His craftsmanship and painterly skill
are undeniable, and the work is fun and engaging for the viewer and would
certainly "pop" in most people's homes.
Ray falls flat, however,
insofar as presenting a regrettably titled, conceptually hollow grouping of works.
Funk Soul Brother is certainly a
trite title for a fine art exhibition, and this underlines the fact that there
is really no concept tying the works in the show together. The exhibition text
states that "the characters become a central focus," but this is the only focus beside showcasing Ray's artistic skill and
technique — these characters tell no stories, and there are far too many
of them for the viewer to weave meaningful narratives of their own.
There are also a slew of
references to various world cultures that feel inappropriately borrowed and
devoid of context; they are never hashed out and will likely leave viewers
scratching their heads. The best works in the show are the largest ones, such
as "The Whim Idol" (pictured), which Ray had professionally die-cut.
More focus on the larger,
better-realized works would be beneficial. If Ray can tighten his focus and
increase the intellectual depth of his artwork, expect great things from him in