Ray Mack

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Ray  Mack

Ray Mack

Ray Mack Statement

Mack’s figurative oil paintings harness conventional, erudite practices and themes present in the larger western canon to point a questioning finger at the social systems that spawned them. Fundament, with its dual definition of “foundation” and “buttocks,” describes this collection aptly: Influenced by the form and content of classic tropes from American history paintings and nostalgic images of Americana, Mack’s paintings re-imagine familiar scenes to reveal the nightmares hidden just beneath the surface, our country’s unseemly bedrock of internalized gender hierarchies.  

Mack’s work combines a low-brow sense of humor and style with oil painting technique, compositional eye, and art historical references of a well trained and highly skilled artist. The paintings range in context, directly challenging gendered dynamics in iconic images throughout art history, from Charles Willson Peale’s “The Artist in His Museum” (1822) to Alfred Eisenstaedt’s “V-J Day in Times Square” (1945) to Norman Rockwell’s “From Concord to Tranquility” (1973).

Drawing on art historical references and formal strategies, reworking the male-dominated canon through her humorous and distinctly situated gaze. The unsettling combination of conventional, erudite practice and crude, lowbrow gesture highlights themes present in a male-dominated art history, and our oversexed, under-stimulated popular culture, which ultimately serves to tickle the armpits of the stodgy old men who made them, and shake loose the tragicomedy that we find when we look at our own societally induced sentimentality. The viewer is left intellectually and emotionally piqued, uncertain whether to giggle or weep.

In the months since Donald Trump’s occupancy of the White House, Mack’s work has shifted. Subjects that seemed too on-the-nose or obvious in the past are now appropriate -- perhaps even vital -- to address head-on, with sincerity. This is an unsettling time in America, and Mack’s work offers clear reminders of what it means to have fought for and secured the rights and freedoms we all deserve.

Included in the exhibition are a series of works that borrow scenes directly from specific Rockwell paintings. In Mack’s hands, the formerly “neutral” scenes are malformed, ghostlike versions of themselves, haunted with gaping mouths, sagging limbs and flaccid phalluses. The implicit neutrality in Rockwell’s images, Mack reminds us, is based purely on the fact that they are ubiquitous. This effect reflects some of the contemporary blind spots Americans face in addressing issues of discrimination. In one work, Mack depicts a scenario of two female roommates intimately huddled together looking at a magazine; Mack’s image responds directly to Rockwell’s reductive Saturday Evening Post cover of wide-eyed damsels from the 1940s by reflecting a more emotionally realistic version of two adult women sharing space and interest.

Mack’s Betsy Ross series places the woman as the focal centerpiece, responding to the virtual absence of historically significant women in American history paintings. Mack intentionally redirects the focus to Ross to highlight the gendered mythology of her role.

Through thoughtful subversion of familiar images, Mack’s work unflinchingly reminds us that now is the time to reexamine “normal.”

Ray Mack Resumé

MFA, Painting, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco CA

BA, Studio Arts, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson NY


Solo Exhibitions
Thinking of You, Minnesota Street Project (Bass and Reiner Gallery) San Francisco CA

What he said, Punch Gallery, Seattle WA

Replicant Presents Ray Mack, The Lab, San Francisco CA

Public Patron Painting Party Project, Ellensburg WA

Ray Mack Leaves The House, Bay Area 51, San Francisco CA

Bring a Lamp, it’s Dark Outside, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson NY


Group Exhibitions
28 Day Cycle, Studio 110 Projects, San Francisco, CA

Every Damn Day, Totally Rad Gallery, Berkeley, CA

Wish You Could Have Seen This, San Francisco Civic Center, San Francisco CA

American Painting Today, V2, Seattle WA

Punch Out, Punch Gallery, Seattle WA

Seattle Art Fair, Seattle WA

New Members Exhibition, Punch Gallery, Seattle WA

Westward Bound: PUNCH Gallery meets Clymer, Clymer Museum, Ellensburg WA

Shades of Impact, Worth-Ryder Gallery, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley CA

SF Artists in a Suitcase, The Zimmer Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel

Currency, The Old Mint, San Francisco CA

Our Art Show, Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco CA

See You Next Tuesday, Autzen, AB Lobby, & MK Galleries, Portland State University, Portland, OR

C.U.N.T., Rocks Box Contemporary Fine Art, Portland, OR

CELLSpace, San Francisco CA

Bad Drawing, Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco CA

Haunted House, S.H.E.D. Projects, Oakland CA

Hanging Out with a Purpose, The Northern, Olympia WA

All the Answers You Gave Me were Wrong, Alley Cat Gallery, Ellensburg WA

53rd Annual Central Washington Juried Artist’s Exhibition, Larson Gallery, Yakima, WA

The Art Olympics, Bay Area 51, San Francisco, CA

Annual Juried Show, Gallery One Visual Arts Center, Ellensburg WA

This Comfortable Virtual Life, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson NY

Hurricane Katrina Benefit Show, Hudson Valley Arts Center, Hudson NY


New Other Other World Residency, Bay Area 51, San Francisco CA

2008 & 2007  
Artist-in-Residence, Gallery One Visual Arts Center, Ellensburg WA



Joyce Brown, “Artist Ray Mack paints new versions of male-dominated iconic works,”

7Q Interviews, http://www.7qinterviews.com/interviews/ray-mack

Matthew Kangas, “American Painting Today,” Visual Art Source,


Jos Truitt, “Painter Ray Mack Shoplifts from the Dudes of Art History,” feministing.com, http://feministing.com/2016/05/03/painter-ray-mack-shoplifts-from-the-dudes-of-art-history/

Kimberly Chun, “Local Artists take a look at American identity” sfgate.com, http://www.sfgate.com/art/article/Local-artists-take-a-look-at-American-identity-7554642.phph

Adam Brinklow, “Arts Commission Building Flashes Morse Code Messages from Ex-San Francisco Artists,” sf.curbed.com,


John Metcalfe, “A San Francisco Building Sends Out Coded Messages About Displacement,” CITYLAB.com,


C.U.N.T. Exhibition Catalogue, Rocksbox Contemporary Fine Art, Portland, CA

Currency Exhibition Catalogue, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA

David M. Roth “‘Currency’- SFAI’s MFA Show @ The Old Mint,” SquareCylinder.com

Bite, Cul, Nichons Et Chatte, Editions Ripopee, Nyon, Switzerland

Salt Hill Issue 29, Syracuse, NY

Lauren Smith, “Emerging Artists,” 2opCollec(tive),


Tara Jepson, “Bay Area 51,” SF Weekly, San Francisco, CA


Bard Papers, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY



Artist Talk, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA

Artist Talk, Minnesota Street Project, San Francisco, CA

Artist Talk, DISCLOSE, San Francisco CA


Artist Trust EDGE Professional Development Program, Port Townsend, WA

Actor and Set Assistant, Happy Birthday, Mike Kuchar Production, San Francisco, CA

Actor and Set Assistant, Starbound, Mike Kuchar Production, San Francisco CA

Art Department and Actor, Mindglow, Eric Svedas and Sam Wohl Production, San Francisco, CA

Founding Board Member, Program Management, Instructor; Alley Cat Artists, Ellensburg, WA

Education Volunteer, Harlem Studio Museum, Manhattan NY

Acting Program Coordinator, Program Assistant, Assistant grant writer; Gallery One Visual Arts Center, Ellensburg WA

Intern, Tacoma Economic Development Department, Tacoma, WA

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