Part writer, part photographer, part journalist and part-time cyclist, Michael Ray is a Los Angeles-renowned visionary, ecological advocate, documentarian, art dealer and literature buff. A familiar face in the Santa Monica art scene through a series of print, photo, and video media productions via the Santa Monica Mirror and Westside L.A. Today, this artivist’s interviews include incoming Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Music Director Jaime Martín; Joy Cernac, Executive Committee Member of the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter; and Grant Turck, founder of Venice Pride.
“Romantically Alluring,” according to Helen Ramirez (writing in The Roundup), “One of Us!, One of Us!” Stephen Box (Bike Writer’s Collective), and “Wonderful” (Lois Lambert Gallery), Michael Ray is a dedicated artivist with a history that spans across decades, early experiences in public art began with uncle Peter Quezada in the Silver Lake, Echo Park, Hollywood, and the Griffith-Metro area. Early works can be found in Sojin Kim’s book Chicano Art: The Neighborhood Art of Peter Quezada, Kim is currently the curator for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife & Cultural Heritage. Michael Ray studied theatre arts and dance under the direction of Kevin Kane Ph.D., as well as comedy with Paul “Pee-Wee Herman” Rubens. Behind the camera, Michael Ray produced the short documentary Why We Climb, which features the poetry of Esther Feldman, for the California Environmental Legacy Project. In the community Michael Ray co-produced a series of annual “Concerts in the Park” while serving as the Vice Chair of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council; the concerts were produced in conjunction with the Arts & Culture and the Youth & Families committees, with support from the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.
An alumni of Humboldt State University with a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature, Michael Ray has published work in the award-winning Rushing Water’s Rising Dreams: How The Arts Transform a Community (Tia Chucha’s Press); The Matrix (HSU Women’s Resource Center)—cited as a top college publication by The Nation magazine; The Toyon Literary Journal; Dr. Suzy’s Bonoboville, and is a contributing writer to the Santa Monica Mirror, Brentwood News L.A., Yo! Venice, Century City – Westwood News, and Westside L.A. Today. A wordsmith and a poet Michael Ray’s self-published works include chapbooks, books, magazines, radio broadcasts and music videos. Creator of print and digital media, Michael Ray has worked with best-selling author of The Bonobo Way, Dr. Susan Block as an editor, fashionista, and technical whiz; and featured as a guest on Divine Love Talk with Dr. Parthenia Grant, and co-hosted by Dr. Sarah Larsen.
Selected as “Most Whimsical” by the Sylmar Olive Festival, as a chalk artist, live popup installations include the Sunland-Tujunga Watermelon Festival; the Pasadena Chalk Art Festival; Ventura Art & Street Painting Festival; Win Within Sangha, the Northeast Los Angeles Art walk, and Indigo Vortex. A multitude of sponsors have contributed to successful art installations—Blick Art Supplies, Sweaty Box, Suga Baby, For Learners of All Ages, Graffiteria LA, and Cedar Valley Crafts.
Michael Ray has guest emceed Mental Mondays in the City of San Fernando; featured at the City’s Day of the Dead Celebration, as well as performed with theatre troupe Tres Culturas for the annual Cesar Chavez memorial celebration. On Stage, juggling, fire play, and spoken word are some of the feats performed by this Humboldt Circus Monkey alumni; having appeared in “Carnival of the Mind” (John Van Duzer Theater), the Humboldt Annual Arts Festival (Arcata, California), “So Many Colors” and “One Continuous Lick” (Gist Theatre), Humboldt North County Fair, Illumi-Lot-I: A Glow Show (Black Box Theatre). Michael Ray’s poetics present grim issues such as Genetically Modified Organisms, animal rights, and social justice matters in a lighthearted humorous light using a variety of props, original characters and musical compositions.
Recently cited by the Kybele Dance Theater for the article “A Summer Art Celebration” hosted at Bergamot and by the Santa Monica Fire Department for the photograph of their 1952 Mack LS 125 fire engine, Michael Ray continues to explore the importance of community building through art, recreation and cultural exchange. Literary projects completed include LA Artist’s Artbook Volume II; No Se Habla Español Anthology; and Doren Damico’s When You Can’t Scream: 10 Reasons Why I Smoke. Michael Ray is currently in the production phase of a new book which will include a curated selection of poems, new and previously published photographs from around the world, as well as essays on sustainability, LGBTQ and social justice issues.
Featured Photo “Council Vice President Michael Ray Menjavar counts heads for the Election fight” by Alex Thompson.