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Three Minutes, Three Questions Artist Todd Gray

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Photographs by Courtesy photo

"My business partner and I started a candy vending business out of our garage in 1995," artist Todd Gray says. "We built it over the next 20 years into 26 states and 170 shopping malls. We manufactured and operated the world's finest vending equipment and were able to sell the company in 2015. It was at that time I went back into my art again full time."

"I cannot escape my love for pop art. I never could. It's part of my DNA," says artist Todd Gray. "I was born in the same year that pop art (as fine art) came into the spotlight of the world, and their images have had profound effects on my life and my art."

Gray's art has had some profound effects of its own, too. Earlier this year, he was invited to New York to paint a metal shed -- one of several that will house the mechanical equipment for the future 2 World Trade Center. It was a bigger stage than he could have ever imagined, he says.

FAQ

‘Todd Gray:

Pop Geometry’

WHEN — Through Dec. 2

WHERE — Fort Smith Regional Art Museum

COST — Free

INFO — 784-2787 or fsram.org

"I still look back on the experience as if it was a dream," he said two weeks after he got back to his home in Los Angeles. "I am not quite sure how it happened, and I am not quite sure how I pulled it off ... One thing I am sure of, though, that it was one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given and for this, I will be forever grateful...

"Of all the points on the map, it is quite probable that the World Trade Center is in need of healing possibly more than anywhere else. With this in mind, our primary goal was to create and leave behind something beautiful, uplifting and magnificent in this very special place. It was the highest humbling honor of my artistic career so far, and I am deeply proud of what we created and left behind as a gift to New York."

Now, Gray brings his work to the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum for a one-man show titled "Pop Geometry."

"Todd Gray himself is great to work with -- such an excellent guy -- and we just can't wait to have his work on display," says museum spokeswoman Melissa Conry. "['Pop Geometry' is] unlike anything we've had in recent years, and I think it's going to be great for drawing in the youngsters in our community -- something we've been working on."

Here, Gray answers some questions for What's Up!

Q. What piece of art is the first piece you remember?

A. The first piece of art that rocked my world was a painting called "East End" by Al Held [from 1987]. I saw it in an Architectural Digest magazine that my mother had laying around the house. This painting hit me like a lightning bolt, and in many ways, I credit its influence on me being the artist I am today. It was the match and the firecracker that ignited my art life.

Q. What did you intend to be when you grew up?

A. I originally intended on getting into motivational psychology as I was tremendously inspired early on by Dale Carnegie. Somehow, about halfway through getting my psych degree at UCLA, my interests in going on to graduate school started to wane. I finished getting my degree, but any more schooling would pretty much be out of the question. I then traveled for about a year around the world. ... I did some intense soul searching around that time and realized I would rather struggle as long as it took doing what I loved than make money doing what I hated. I made the decision that moment I was going to be an artist. I went out the next day and bought myself a starter set of paints, some brushes and a canvas.

Q. What do you hope your art brings to viewers?

A. Well, fundamentally, I would always hope that the viewer likes it. I would hope that they would see beyond its mere pleasing aesthetics and see the thought and intelligence behind it. ... Bob Dylan said that the goal of art is to inspire. So, with that being said, I'd like for my art to inspire and with that inspiration, the viewer would go home and start making art -- get to work on their own soul work on the creative road to their own happiness.

-- Becca Martin-Brown

bmartin@nwadg.com

NAN What's Up on 08/05/2018

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