By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
I think movies are fine art. But like art that I make? Museum art, gallery art? Yeah. I think it can. I don’t think it necessarily does, but it can. The beauty to me about films is that they show people how to do things like drive or kiss a girl or handle a broom or leave a room, y’know — behave. I think Greek statuary at one point did something kind of similar. Look at this statue of a Greek boxer. This is a beautiful piece, because it’s actually feinting to the left. So you know that people looked to learn how to fight. This art is so cinematic in a way: How do you hold a sword? It’s like how we learn how to drink a glass of wine or drive a car or have sex. Where else do you learn to do that? You learn it at the movies, I think. On TV, from visual narratives. That’s so beautifully embedded in something so close you can’t even see it. It’s so important, so tied into who we are — it’s really kind of wonderful.Do you see your work as doing that?
No.Teach people to see connections?
Yeah, read connections. I think really good work does do something — transports people, stops time, takes them someplace and makes them think about things. Another space. Hopefully people get something of this. I think of myself as a sculptor, trying to make sculptures. I think it has more to do with who I am and where I came from than how relevant fine art is. I didn’t really have the opportunity to think when I was 20, "Is this really a relevant thing to do?" I tumbled into it. I was good at physical sports, but I didn’t know how to write. I didn’t know how to express myself verbally. I went through school kind of dyslexic, just fumbling around. This military school I went to held a formal syntax for me, an understanding that you can break a rule if you can replace it right away with a new one, which was similar to abstract formal sculpture in a way. I ended up in college, in a situation with a mentor. And all of a sudden, from my previous background, I tumbled into [art], and it was the first time in my life that I could actually intellectually express myself. Both physically and through some kind of syntax. I couldn’t do that before, so I wasn’t thinking, "Is this relevant?" or "How does this compare to cinema?" It was just "Whoaa! Finally I can say something! This is working for me!" and off it sort of went.The military school — what was that like?
It was the most horrible . . . for four years I lived in a room with 40 kids. [Ray pulls out his yearbook.] It looks a little better here. It was a lot worse than it looks.Everyone’s smiling. How did you do there?
Terribly.Did you immediately turn into a hippie when you got out?
I didn’t, because it was already over by ’68, you could say. I’m sort of depressed about that.Still?
I guess I’m still. I never was a hippie really.You must have grown your hair out a bit.
Oh yeah. After I got out of there it got really long. I took some drugs in there, and that helped.In the military school? Alone?
I first took LSD there. I took it at night, after taps, and lay in my bunk all night. You had a locker and a bench. You will not find one chair in that book.Here’s Jimmy Durante!
That’s just a bunch of bullshit. He was doing some fund-raising gig in the next room — I wasn’t there, this is what I heard — so they got him to come in and say something.How did you wind up there, anyway?
My sister was born schizophrenic. It was just a difficult family upbringing. And they didn’t institutionalize her until later, when she was in puberty. But me and my brother got institutionalized in stead, basically. So [my parents] could deal with it.Is anyone else in your family schizophrenic?
It’s not schizophrenic — that’s such a generic term — she’s autistic. But not really autistic. She was just born crazy. She’s really . . . far out. But smart. She had an imaginary dog whose name was Air. Pretty nice: Air.What was the idea behind your homemade clothes?
I was just really depressed. I was interested in the idea as self-portraiture. Am I the armature for the clothes, or are the clothes really the armature for me? I was really interested in the idea of arma ture in sculpture, and how every idea and every thing has an armature, and it’s really tricky to try and locate where the armature is. I think it’s a really, really important thing. The homemade clothes was going to be a public sculpture, like the Firetruck and the Turning Trees were public ideas, except the clothes’ public location was in the cinema, in a public theater. Called Self Portrait With Homemade Clothes, it was to be embedded as a two-minute trailer with the [regular] trailers. I was going to make my own glasses and shoes, and down in the studio I was cobbling my own shoes, and grinding my own lenses, but it became too much about that feat, and the craft. I wanted to bring it to where it was more about the girl in me. The genre of the girls when I was a kid and [my] older cousins made their own clothes. It was about entering that genre a little bit. Not that I’m girly or something.Feminist artist?