Since the 1980s, artist Darren Vigil Gray has been known for dynamic works that probe personal and tribal mythologies, portraiture, the broad landscape of northern New Mexico, and abstraction. On Saturday, July 10, Keyes Art in Sag Harbor opens an exhibition of Gray’s work with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m.
The show remains on view through August 6.
Gray grew up among the mountains and mesas of Dulce, New Mexico on the Jicarilla Apache reservation. His father was the tribal chairman as well as a country western guitarist, rancher and rodeo cowboy; his mother studied to be a coloratura soprano, encouraging Gray and his brother to learn piano and drums. He knew music would be a part of his future, but his affinity for visual art began at age 15 when he left the reservation to attend Santa Fe’s Institute of American Indian Arts, a tribal college. He soon found himself transformed by the freedom to explore a wide cultural perspective while diving into this new visual universe. Later, he studied with the acclaimed Native American artist T. C. Cannon, whose mentorship would provide the young artist with a lifelong mantra — “create your own mythology.”
Renown critic and curator Lucy Lippard said of his work, “Gray has found his true place in the act of painting, in brushstrokes informed by dreams and visions that transcend the personal and the local.”
In addition to his artistic skills, Gray has always been a dedicated musician, invited to perform across parts of the country and abroad as a drummer. He has met many renowned musicians, including famed guitarist, songwriter, and producer, Robbie Robertson, whom he met at a Hamburger Hamlet in Brentwood 40 years ago. After sharing a few Coronas on a hot California day, they ventured to Gray’s baby-blue Toyota flatbed where he pulled out a few new paintings. Robertson purchased one right in the parking lot, and a lifelong friendship was born. Since then, Gray’s art has been prized by myriad guitarists, singers and songwriters, many of whom have become not only collectors but friends.
Gray’s art has been widely exhibited in galleries and museums across the U.S. and abroad. In 2002, The Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe mounted a 20-year retrospective of Gray’s art. His work is represented in the collections of numerous public and private institutions including the Denver Art Museum; Tucson Museum of Art; The National Museum of American Arts and the Museum of the American Indian, among others.
Keyes Art Gallery is at 45 Main Street at The American Hotel in Sag Harbor. For more information, visit juliekeyesart.com.