The ‘elsewhere’ of Guy Raymond
By Katie Scarvey
Guy Raymond has two very different lives.
From 3 to 11 p.m., he operates a machine at a Philip Morris plant, as he has for more than 25 years.
He keeps his head in what he’s doing of course, but his imagination is elsewhere.
And “elsewhere” is a pretty interesting place if you’re Raymond.
It’s a place where all kinds of things bubble up ó circus trains, evil monkeys from “The Wizard of Oz,” flying teapots.
In the mornings before work and late at night after work, Raymond mines his imagination. Smoking cigars and drinking coffee, he paints to the smell of burning incense.
His paintings typically “start with one little thing” and evolve.
“I don’t know what that’s going to be until I’m satisfied with it,” he says.
His fertile imagination, he says, is a gift.
“It just comes ó the well never runs dry,” he says.
One of his favorite subjects is romance. Men and women ó often nude, particularly the women ó appear, in various scenarios, both sweet and edgy. Hearts appear frequently in his work.
He grew up loving the Beatles and their “all you need is love” mentality, he says.
Because of his religious background, Catholic images including Jesus and Mary Magdalene “seep out periodically” in his work, he says. He also likes to paint devils, he says, although he doesn’t really believe in them.
Traditional subjects ó like landscapes ó don’t do much for him, he says.
He admits that he likes to provoke a “What?” reaction in those who view his art.
He’s always loved to create. He drew a lot as a kid in rural Massachusetts and he remembers asking for an art book by Jon Gnagy, known as American’s television art teacher. He received it as a Christmas gift when he was in the sixth or seventh grade and still refers to it from time to time.
In high school, Raymond was the art editor of the school newspaper, as well as the go-to guy when anyone needed a poster.
After graduating from high school, he went to community college and took as many art classes as he could. He got married in 1976.
He and wife Lynn ó now an English professor at UNC-Charlotte ó didn’t have a lot going on in the small Massachusetts town where they lived, he says, so they moved to Richmond, Va., where Raymond’s uncle lived.
He took an oil painting class there, and something clicked in him.
“I knew that was it,” he says of the experience.
He also got a job at Philip Morris working second shift and going to school at Virginia Commonwealth University in the mornings, majoring in painting and printmaking. He showed his paintings in libraries, restaurants ó any place that would hang them.
In 1994, he was laid off. With his wife and three children, he moved to North Carolina for a job at the Philip Morris plant in Concord. He continued to paint and exhibit his work when he got the chance.
Last year, he says, he got his big break at the Art on Easy Street festival in Salisbury. He met Anne Waters, who bought a few paintings. She loved his work and told him she was planning to open a gallery and wanted to show his work.
She did open that gallery ó Green Goat Gallery in Spencer, where Raymond’s work is available.
Recently, Duke’s MURDOCK Study office in Kannapolis commissioned several paintings by Raymond, including one of a huge green apple called “An Apple a Day” ó guaranteeing Raymond plenty of visibility.
“It’s a giant door opening up,” Raymond said at the time.
“Your Move,” an exhibit of 44 of Raymond’s most recent paintings, is opening Saturday at the Green Goat Gallery, with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m.
Waters has sold a number of Raymond’s paintings already at her gallery and says that those who acquire his art tend to have very personal attachments to it.
“The paintings become their friends to hang in their kitchen,” she says.
“I think he’s brilliant,” she says, adding that she loves his quiet, unassuming ways.
The Green Goat Gallery is located at 516 S. Salisbury Avenue. For more information, call the Green Goat Gallery at 704-639-0606.
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