(Published on the KPBS arts blog, Culture Lust, June 11, 2010)
By Dave Hampton
“Patch and Paint,” a show of new paintings by the stalwart local painter Richard Allen Morris, opens this Friday at the R.B. Stevenson Gallery. You will be tempted to lick, chew and swallow his latest works.
An artist’s artist, Morris has become an heroic figure after 50 years of struggle in a city that still doesn’t seem to know what to make of him. We’ve prepared this handy guide to clear everything up:
FACTS about RAM:
-spent high school years in Torrington, WY practicing sleight of hand… to no avail
-has lived and worked in studios near downtown SD since 1956 discharge from Navy
-does not drive
-writes zen-like poetry and gives infrequent readings, currently cannot locate his poems
-loves books, jazz and baseball
-throws a football once a week with sculptor Tom Driscoll; has done so since 1982
-smoked a pipe for many years, used it once in self defense
-has many collections, including paintings on black velvet and antique tins
-inhabits a bunker of a studio, so packed he is forced to paint in the stairwell
-taught adult and children’s art classes, describes his own teaching as “inferior”
-gets two tv channels (three if he’s lucky)
-prepares lists of funny names and phrases to use as titles for paintings
-is a good sport
STATEMENTS about RAM:
“San Diego’s most imaginative and inventive artist. He is like what Rousseau was to other painters in Paris at the turn of the century, but not naive.” – John Baldessari
“A serious, hardworking artist who has gone ahead with his search despite public indifference and apathy and, in some cases, even overt hostility.” – Sheldon Kirby
“He is perhaps the only artist of this vicinity to successfully develop and nurture a vital humorous aesthetic quality in his work…one of the most difficult directions a contemporary artist can choose.”- Don Brewer
“One of the strongest local painters, and one of the least appreciated; he’s one of the most sensitive creative people around and he’s intensely honest to himself and his work.” – Dan Jacobs
His resolve “to work without seduction, without blazes of vainglory, without the crutch of ‘craftsmanship,’ without ‘officialdom’ (even artistic), may someday be a San Diego maxim.” – Malcolm McClain
BOOKS about RAM:
“Richard Allen Morris” CUE Art Foundation 2004, New York, NY. USA
“Richard Allen Morris: Restrospective 1958 – 2004″ Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, California. USA
“Richard Allen Morris: Crossing Edges” Hausler Contemporary 2007 Zurich, Switzerland and Munich, Germany.
“Richard Allen Morris: It’s just a certain sound I’m after.” Kienbaum Artists Books and Galerie Schmidt Maczollek 2008 Koln, Germany.
“Richard Allen Morris: Painted!” Daros Collecction 2008, Zurich, Switzerland.
“Richard Allen Morris: Painter’s Room 2009″ Munich, Germany, Zurich, Switzerland.
“Patch & Paint” will be on view from July 11th through the 24th. An opening reception for the artist takes place tonight from 5-8 p.m.