Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Eric McRay is CVA's July Featured Artist at Clayton Center Exhibit

Raleigh painter Eric McRay will be the solo artist in July in the monthly art exhibit at The Clayton Center.

His show will mark a return visit, as McRay brought his bright, colorful, acrylic-on-canvas paintings to Clayton in August 2008.

This year’s show, entitled “Eric McRay’s Greatest Hits: An Exhibition of Coffee, Jazz, and North Carolina Sceneries,” will have three main focuses – coffee/food, jazz, and Tar Heel scenes, including the Capitol building in downtown Raleigh and other notable scenes.

The wide range of subject matter shows McRay’s willingness to explore nontraditional subjects and his ability to turn everyday life into art.

As he says, “My inspiration comes from my passions, my adventures and my misadventures. My art is my diary.”

His paintings will be on display from 8 to 5 Monday-Friday in the center’s lobby July 1-30. The show is free and is open to everyone. It is sponsored by Clayton Visual Arts.

A meet-the-artists reception will be held for McRay on July 8 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the center, 111 E. Second St. Everyone is invited, and light refreshments will be served. The reception is free, and dress is casual.

McRay was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and art has been part of his life almost forever. In early grade school, he helped his teacher design a Rumpelstiltskin-themed bulletin board, and her praise made him realize his art had value beyond his own personal fulfillment.

Later, he said, kids in school often paid him to draw pictures on their book covers. Then when he was 16, he was hired by a design firm as a paste-up artist.

Most of McRay’s work is done in acrylics on canvas or in collages.

“I stopped using oil paints because they took too long to dry,” he said. He likes acrylics because they are fast, clean, efficient, fast-drying, versatile and archival.

As for collage, he said, “I create in collage because it is alchemy. I'm able to make something of tremendous value out of inexpensive materials. It's like turning straw into gold [or] making microchips out of sand.”

Influences on his work go past eclectic. He said, “I think [my influences are] every artist I've ever seen.” Then he paraphrased artist Robert Motherwell: “The intelligent artist keeps the history of art in his head.”

For the future, McRay strives to become the best known artist in N.C. and throughout the Southeast.

He earned a BFA degree at the Maryland Institute, College of Art, which he attended on a four-year scholarship.

In 1998, he was juried into Raleigh’s prestigious Artspace, where he has served as vice-president and president of the Artspace Artists Association, as well as on the board of directors.

McRay has been featured on TV and radio and in newspapers and magazines. In 2008, he was named “Best Local Artist” by Metro magazine. He also participates in and supports many charitable art exhibits and community art events.

His paintings hang at NC State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, SAS Institute, Western Wake Hospital, NCCU Art Museum, American Tobacco Campus, Duke University Medical Center, Duke Eye Center, and First South Bank, as well as in many private collections locally, nationally and internationally.

He keeps a daily work schedule at Artspace Studio 205 and vacations along the Carolina Coast with his wife and children.

His website is

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