“A new art-film form,” art critic Thomas Albright wrote of the films. “Somber, poetic protest that begins with social issues but burrows deeper into the darker recesses of life itself. Images, sounds, rhythms, and transformations … are as disturbing, and grittily gripping, as a morning nightmare.”
In later years, Rice continued to paint and draw. In Wages of Age, a self-published book, he dealt with aging in typically straightforward fashion. “Ears keep growing, nose coarsens, mouth saggens (sic).”
He faced depression. “On the sunniest day, and perhaps more in dank, dark times, despair can come over it all and settle in upon us.”
“Despair driven underground was brought out and dispelled by sheer recognition and then doing some painting. Selah!”
He discussed suicide. “Going out when one wants to. Why? Pain, dependency, pain, uselessness, shame, fear, depression, pain. Why not? A sin?...
“Advice: Put it off. Take more aspirin.”
Rice’s final project was a series of drawings for Cosmogonie Intime, poems by Yves Peyré published by his daughter Felicia. Ray was depressed, Felicia says. “‘Get well. You have work to do,’” she told him. “And he did. I swear, he did it for me as much as for anything.”
On March 6, 2001, Rice, then 85, was working in his studio. “He died of a stroke,’ Felicia says, “a paintbrush in his hand.”
Photos: Ernie Braun, Stan Croner, Dave Weinstein; and courtesy Felicia Rice and Iana Porter
• A huge Ray Rice mural was recently rescued in Sausalito. See the story and photos here.
• A Ray Rice mosaic is the main thing you see entering the terminal at Fresno-Yosemite International Airport, on Peach Avenue near McKinley Avenue.
• The Mendocino Art Center has a large Rice mosaic inside, and a mosaic standing figure in the courtyard. Also outside, the bust of art center founder Bill Zacha, and of his dog, are by Miriam Rice.
• Rice’s first mosaic installation, a small and damaged water fountain, can be seen at Faculty Glade at UC Berkeley, in the shadow of Stephens Hall.
• Rice’s experimental films can be viewed on DVD at the UC Santa Cruz Library.
• Cosmogonie Intime - An Intimate Cosmogony (with poems by Yves Peyré, drawings by Ray Rice, and bookwork by Felicia Rice) is available through Felicia Rice’s Moving Parts Press (movingpartspress.com). It can also be perused in the special collections department of the UC Santa Cruz Library.