Celebrating George: Celebrating Art

George Ray McCormick, Sr. stands in front of two carvings from the “Four Horsemen” Series,” 2008 (Collection of Deana McCormick). Photo courtesy of Terry McCormick Gallery.

By Evelyn Patricia Terry

George Ray McCormick Sr.–my life partner, my good friend, and as my son says my “road dog”–transitioned on July 30, 2009. To honor our joint creative impulses, I founded the Terry McCormick Gallery that same year. Needed repairs to the gallery porches, kitchen floors and basement, along with other perceived failures and hardships, like accomplishing the publication of my first book bogged me down this year. Desperately desiring success, I avoided opening the gallery.

Lately I learned, by listening to many self-empowerment conversations and recordings, that embracing perceived failure is a necessary component to any success story. I then realized that George’s transition date aligned perfectly with July’s Gallery Day in Milwaukee, a synchronistic moment that trumped my gridlocked thought pattern. Subsequently, I am hosting a reception on July 30, 2011 and exploring options for completion of my book “Permission to Paint, Please! 150 Year Celebration of African American Artists Connected to Wisconsin.”

This realization allows the honoring of my goal to make available, to the public, George’s artwork and that of the other gallery artists, Shana R. Goetsch, Ras `Ammar Nsoroma, Ktinsley and Jacqueline A. Richards.

George Ray McCormick, Sr., “Adam and Eve Series: Cupid Speaks,” 31” x 11” x 11,” Painted, woodburned carved wood, found objects and welded steel, 2007, (Collection of Paul Phelps). Photo: Larry Sanders.

George’s remaining artwork includes spiritual and secular subjects in woodcuts, garden and large bug-like creatures, ink and pencil drawings (exploring sexuality and depression) and woodburned painted carvings (featuring his last series–roosters). His family retained many of his pieces and collectors acquired work through ongoing sales–such as those hosted by the Jazz Gallery and the Center for Spiritual Living.

George deeply desired to have his artwork valued and “paid for” by avid contemporary folk art collectors and museums. He resolutely avoided being taken advantage of after reading how African-American contemporary folk artists often were. Notebooks and entries on bits of paper preserve some of George’s thoughts indicating his personal struggles with “trust,” “God” and “evil.”

Throughout our eleven-year relationship, he also struggled with health issues. Diet changes, to predominantly vegetable-based protein, facilitated his recovery from cancer (twice), arthritis, and blindness in one eye from a stroke. His greatest challenge was drastic blood pressure fluctuations. My research shows managing one’s thoughts, diet and proper sleep drastically impact blood pressure control.  George’s intense commitment to mastering the guitar led him to research and practice into the night. A resulting aneurysm, too soon for me, ended his struggles. Without him “going places” is less interesting. I content myself with completing goals and exploring informative concepts like the law of attraction and the ability to control one’s life by one’s thoughts–a rich exciting opportunity.

Shana R. Goetsch, "Tributary 3" (detail), Collograph prints on paper, 2 feet x 65 yards, 2011. Photo courtesy of the artist.

As for other Terry McCormick Gallery artists, it is important to note that Shana just completed her MA in Community Art at Maryland Institute College of Art and is opening at the Jazz Gallery in Milwaukee, August 6, 2011, 6-9 p.m., with her thesis exhibition “3 Tributaries.” Shana R. Goetsch’s intense and provocative pieces, including 4,000 individual prints of row houses on one sheet of paper, challenge us to visually and emotionally connect to 4,000 victims of domestic violence. (You can also see her work in PortalWisconsin.org’s online gallery.)

Ras `Ammar Nsoroma with “Thought, Speech, Action,” (1 panel of 14), 4' x 8,' Acrylic on board, 201l. Photo: Elisabeth Miller.

Ammar recently completed a project of 14 panels for the Franklin Square Apartments spearheaded by Melissa Goins of Maures Development group. Ammar, the lead artist for accomplishing ten murals in conjunction with youth employed by Artworks for Milwaukee, Inc., created the last four, independently, in April.

Evelyn Patricia Terry, "And God Loves You, Too," 24" x 16," Screenprint (edition 125-few remain), 1979. Photo: Vernessa Weatherall.

Open to the public, Terry McCormick Gallery hosts “George Ray McCormick, Sr. Celebration” at 2522 North 18th Street on Saturday, July 30 from 1 p.m.–5 p.m.

Gallery Night and Day sites to view my artwork  are: Friday, I will be present for my continuing exhibition at Cuvée’s featuring a winding down of  “One Hundred Dollar Special Sale,” at 177 North Broadway from 5:30 p.m.–9 p.m.

Selections from “Finding Peace Prayer,” an abstract collage series, are exhibited during Peltz Gallery’s “21st Annual Remarkable Women Show 2011.” Located at 1119 East Knapp Street, the hours on Gallery Night are 6 p.m.–9:30 p.m. and on Gallery Day are 11:00 a.m.–4:00 pm.

Jose Alfredo Chavez produced this video, after learning of George’s transition, in time for his memorial service. For more information visit evelynpatriciaterry.com.


4 Responses to Celebrating George: Celebrating Art

  1. Lula Reams says:

    Hey Evelyn Patricia,

    I hope your Gallery Night goes well. I enjoyed reading your blog and watching the video of George, although I had seen it before, I always enjoy seeing it again. I could relate to your comment about not enjoying going places as much without him. I could also add to the list, not having someone to share meals. I like your attitude about living. Never give up… this book will be published. I think I even bought a copy 🙂


  2. I treasure my metal sculpture by George. It is a standing leaf-winged figure holding a light. It’s home is in a small hall just outside my bedroom door. I am so very glad I have it with me. It is rough AND refined, small in scale AND large in effect. Really, a treasure.
    Colette Odya Smith

  3. A metal sculpture by George remains in my yard since George’s passing. The sculpture resembles a quirky mechanical robot-type man and he is holding an enormous light bulb. It reminds me that we have to shine a light on injustices in the world. I love it. Memories of George, his sense of humor, and his down-to-earth wisdom surface whenever I look at it. He is missed.
    Marion Butters
    “Life and Art: Enjoy the Bold Strokes!”

  4. Tresa Mccormick says:

    Thanks for helping his dream live on.

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