When artist Dray came onto the Las Vegas art scene in 1999, there wasn’t really an art scene, he says. Some parts of the area now known as the Arts District didn’t even have pavement or street lights. “There were a few people who loved doing what we love to do.”
Fast-forward more than a decade, and add to that a life-changing trip to Asia, and Dray is back in Las Vegas with a new gallery at the Arts Factory. “I’m really excited just to be back in the mix, especially with the new enthusiasm,” he says, pointing to buses whose scrolling signs read “18b,” a term adopted to describe the Arts District in recent years.
Though he’s known for shapely, swirling abstract paintings and murals depicting music and women, Dray has turned his focus to a new subject. Inspired by his month-long visit to Sri Lanka in 2006 to participate in an art show, he has been painting Buddha for the past year. Year of the Buddha features more than 60 pieces made in various styles and mediums, from aerosol to acrylic. “The most challenging thing was to keep the subject interesting,” he says.
Why wait eight years to interpret the experience onto canvas? “A lot of things I saw there, heard there, they resonated later,” he says. “If I would’ve done it right after the trip, it would’ve been pretentious.”
Dray will paint his last Buddhas in May before moving on to another to-be-determined concept.
Year of the Buddha Through May; Tuesday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Dray Studio & Gallery, 107 E. Charleston Blvd., #225.