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Bob Gray's Paintings
On Display at Benton
November 1, 1999

A sampling of paintings by Robert Gray, Crows and Other Things: The Art of Robert H. Gray, is on display at The William Benton Museum of Art through December 23. Forty works will be exhibited.

Gray, former dean of the School of Fine Arts, died suddenly in June. On November 14, a reception to honor his creative life will take place in the Benton Museum from 1-3 p.m.

All the works by Gray that are on display will be for sale. Proceeds will benefit an endowment to fund The Robert H. Gray Memorial Lecture in the Arts, created by Gray's friends and family. The paintings will remain on exhibit until the closing date. A poster, featuring Gray's painting "Caramel Stew," a mixed media collage, will also be for sale.

Gray was a champion of the arts on campus and throughout the state. A painter, his studio practice started at Yale University, where he earned his BFA and MFA degrees.

Gray often used mixed media, freeing him to make collages on his canvas. Through the years, he explored a variety of themes, his recent work focusing on mythical and historical images. Text as a visual element also interested Gray, combining his love of knowledge with his search for poetic visual images.

"One especially beautiful series explored songbirds and their graphic communications," says Sal Scalora, director of the William Benton Museum of Art. "Another series celebrated the symbolic, Zen-like marks left by tea bags when placed on paper. In this way, Bob Gray combined his own insatiable love of knowledge with his search for, and creation of, poetic visual images," Scalora says.

Gray often painted on a paper surface that absorbed paint or painted the canvas so it looked stained and aged.

During the last year of his life, Gray turned to the crow as a subject for his work.

Drawing on his Irish roots, for him the crow was a clown, sage, and messenger. Using ink wash and a brush, he drew and painted flocks of crows and individuals, standing and flying. Says Scalora, "They seem to embody the artist's love of wit and humor."

Sherry Fisher