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John Lamb, Published April 10 2013

‘Raytrospective’: Work from late artist, who taught at MSUM, on display at ecce

FARGO – Tim Ray died in February, but his art is speaking louder than ever to viewers young and old.

Facing a dire prognosis for the cancer he’d been fighting for four years, last summer Ray and ecce art + yoga director Mark Weiler started selecting pieces over the last 40 years for a retrospective.

The show premiered in mid-February at the North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks, a week after Ray died at home in Moorhead.

The sadness was compounded when Ray’s son Sean and his partner, Judith, were killed in a car accident on their way to the memorial service. Ray’s grandson, Evan, was also injured in the crash and remains in a coma in a Minneapolis hospital.

The retrospective, or as organizers call it, a “Raytrospective,” opens Friday night at ecce in Fargo. Weiler says the exhibit, up through May 5, allows friends, family, colleagues and students a chance to see Ray’s work, most of which was never shown before in Fargo-Moorhead.

“This is monumental in that sense and kind of shocking that he hasn’t had a show in this area for this long,” Weiler said.

Despite teaching art at Minnesota State University Moorhead from 1970 to ’97, Ray didn’t often have solo shows, his last being at Concordia College in 2002.

Still, he was active in furthering the presence and appreciation of abstract art, like his own.

Weiler says the “Raytrospective” shows his transition from paintings as far back as 1968, to paper works and more recently panel pieces, one of which hangs over the stairs at the Fargo Public Library.

“(Viewers will be) able to see more clearly what his mission was and how pieces related to one another,” Weiler says. “The cohesiveness was surprising to people.”

“Each time he shifted, the work was different,” says longtime friend and photographer Wayne Gudmundson, who saw the show at NDMA. “What struck me was a nice continuity of vision in the work, it really worked as a whole and that’s the mark of a good artist.”

The art appealed to viewers, with a number of pieces purchased from the NDMA show. Weiler says works will be available for sale during the ecce show and afterwards the gallery will represent Ray’s collection.

The late artist’s work is also found at West Acres Shopping Center and the Hotel Donaldson.

Weiler said a catalog of the show, containing a forward Ray was working on up until his death, will be available before the show’s closing reception on May 5.

If you go

What: Opening reception for “Raytrospective: Art by Tim Ray”

When: 6 to 9 p.m., Friday

Where: ecce art + yoga, 216 Broadway

Info: This event is free and open to the public. (701) 298-3223

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533