Your visit to Asheville will include a meet and greet, a book signing, a lecture and live painting. Is this so that you can connect with festival-goers on a number of levels?
Alex Grey & Allyson Grey: We find that people want to get to know us in a variety of ways. Some would like a few moments to connect personally, to have a book or poster signed and personalized. Some want to listen - they might want to hear about how creativity can be a spiritual practice and about the progress we are making in building a temple on grounds in New York. Some would like to see a painting in action. For us, it is a way of engaging with a global community, the Love Tribe all over the world. Asheville, North Carolina is a spiritual magnet, a creative center in the Southern U.S. Alex took a very special sacred geometry intensive in Asheville years ago. This will be Allyson's first visit to the fair city of Asheville, home of our good friends Papadosio.
What are the unique characteristics of Visionary Art compared to religious, self-taught (Outsider Art) and Psychedelic Art? Do you think there's a common thread that runs throughout?
Alex & Allyson: Visionary Art is the broadest category and all these other approaches represent sub-categories. Cave paintings of human/animal hybrids or "theriomorphs" of a shaman or an anthropic figure with stag antlers and tail shows the ancient lineage of Visionary Art. Religious Art is all art related to a sacred tradition. Since visionary experiences of enlightenment and stories of God-contact are the foundation of all world religions, much of the art refers to these transcendent moments, such as Moses and the burning bush or Buddha dispelling Mara's demons. Another feature of Visionary Art is ornate geometric patterns of interconnectedness, and you will find unique expressions of these interweaving latticeworks in many temples throughout the world.
Psychedelic art often reflects the bright intense light, rainbow hues, iridescence, patterns of infinite interconnectedness, forms metamorphosing, one being becoming another, infinite vistas, interpenetrating dimensions… art inspired by the psychedelic visionary experience. The term "self-taught" may refer to art that is created outside the boundaries of an official culture. It is often called "Outsider Art." Every Outsider Artist has their own story. Some made art in prisons or mental institutions or worked as a janitor by day and created a silver foil throne room in their garage at night. All artists must practice and are ultimately self taught although some are influenced by their personal history and environment more than the history of art. Most "outsider artists" are compelled by a spirit or vision to create what they create. It can be raw and expressive because it's innocent from the "business of art." Alex's work has been placed in each of these categories and is currently on exhibit at the extraordinary American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore AND at Halle de St. Pierre, the Paris home of Outsider Art.
Since you'll be painting on stage to live music, can you talk about the connection between art and music? How do you experience the interaction — does one inspire the other, or are they two facets of the same creative force?
Alex & Allyson: Music becomes part of the creative energy field enveloping the artists, the audience the dancers. It can occasionally condition the strokes. Music we like can help the flow.
In your performance and in your art, what do you hope to impart to those who view it?
Alex & Allyson: Everyone is connected and that we are living in a sacred reality. Love is the transcendental source and foundation of all that exists.
How important is the relationship between the artist and the audience? Does the audience complete the act of creative expression, or is creativity complete in and of itself?
Alex & Allyson: That is a great question that is answered anew every time we perform before an audience. Alex imagines a collective light body, a temporary group soul woven of the subtle energy fields of those in attendance. This creative energy field is activated by the music and by the emotions coming from the audience and by the vision and will of the artists.
We come on stage with our paintings that were planned in our studio but a lot can happen spontaneously in the process. Music and audio-talk is constant in our studio which we've shared and made art together for 38 years. On stage we are in an uninterrupt-able bubble where we are bathed in great music and engaged in our favorite activity - PAINTING! It is a peak experience. Hope to see you there!
Featured art 'Portrait of Allyson' by Alex Grey in collaboration with Allyson Grey