Alex Grey — Visionary Art: Eye of the Soul
Well, I've arrived safely in NYC and taken temporary residency in the East Village. Yesterday was my first day in New York, though in some way (of course!) I feel I've been here plenty of times already. But I'll get to the present moment later, if such a thing is possible — I still have a bunch of recent experiences to digest; so right now, to kick off my April notes, let's go back a week to Alex Grey's lecture/presentation/slide show.
:: April 1st, 2004 // San Francisco, Ramada Plaza Hotel ::
Alex Grey's lecture, themed Visionary Art: Eye of the Soul, was quite rich. I keep calling it a lecture because that's what I thought I was going to attend, so I showed up with my voice recorder only to find out that there was a huge visual component to the thing, a type of information that my little digital toy wasn't able to store. I should've brought a camcorder, but that would have been sort of a pain, plus they might not have let me do it. I think they (that would be CIIS, I suppose) were recording the event themselves... who knows if/when/how a copy of it will be available? Am I the only one that wishes there was an easier access to this kinds of things? Say, an mpeg available online, right away, for a small fee? Is it just too much to ask or does nobody else care?
But I digress. The "lecture" as I was saying was more like a slide presentation; first a sampling of many visionary artists throughout history, then an exhaustive collection of Alex's work, from his paintings to his performance work. Finally, we were shown the ASTONISHING (yeah, I mean it) animation from the Tool video featuring Alex's depictions of the human figure and its anatomy, from the physical to the subtle, etheric and purely spiritual levels. Another animation brought us inside a virtual rendition of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, a permanent installation of Alex Grey's art soon to open here in Manhattan, Chelsea to be exact.
The place promises to be stunning, a sort of psychedelic magico-spiritual temple powered by Alex's visions of the anatomy of body, mind and spirit. It's going to take a lot of money and work to realize this thing, though, and that's why the Grey family and the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors organization are asking for help. Coolest: one of the reasons they are opening the Chapel is that they hope to raise (ta-dah) Five Million Bucks to build "third millennium sacred architecture" to permanently house the collection. Today a temple, tomorrow a cathedral. I like these people.
Throughout the presentation Alex provided a running commentary, and when it came to his works he told some of the priceless stories behind them and behind his overall vision. Like when he got a job in a morgue to study human anatomy and started doing performances there (yes, inside the morgue), doing things like shutting himself inside a walk-in fridge in total darkness to experiment with sensory deprivation, and eventually exposing himself and his wife copulating in a glass case (yes, inside the morgue), to show and celebrate life in the midst of death. Or the time when he traveled to the north magnetic pole at Resolute Bay, Canada to follow the Earth's shifting magnetic energies, then proceeded to completely take off his clothes and ran in a circle until he couldn't feel his feet anymore. "I felt I had dissolved into a pure energy state and become one with the magnetic field surrounding the earth." Just back from Resolute Bay he was given, by one of his professors, a bottle containing a mix of Kahlua and LSD. After drinking about half of it (I know what you're thinking. But if I'd just come back from stomping around naked on the north magnetic pole, I might feel a little brazen too), he ended up at the party where he met his future wife Allyson, of course with a quick few stops in various far-out extradimensional bardos along the way.
In short, moments from a life lived, and still very much alive.
Alex Grey is blessed with a vision of huge proportions. He pursues it with courage and the firm intention to make a true, lasting and powerful contribution to the human community at large, with its desperate, endless need to cross the boundaries into a more integral collective consciousness. With the kind consideration of a bodhisattva, simple levity and humor, Alex is still charting the realms beyond our perception with the precision of a medical illustrator (somebody at the presentation jokingly insinuated about Alex Grey being related to Henry Gray, author of Gray's Anatomy). With every step of the journey, he does his part in celebrating the daring exploration of consciousness and reality, the richness of the human experience, the urgent necessity of evolution.