Hitchiker of Ray Johnson
Hitchiker of Ray
on the expressway out of Detroit.
When I started doing mail art, Roy Castleberry, bead magnate and
artist, put me in touch with New York Corespondance School founder,
is from Detroit. His parents were still here when I met him,
he came to visit them, sometimes he'd call me and we'd talk or he
visit me in Grosse Pointe. So when he showed up in 1980 in the midst
this cutting and painting of plywood, I explained the deal about the
and abandonment. He agreed, so I stood him in front of a piece of
sent my son across the street with a big piece of mirror to follow
with a reflection from the sun. I traced Ray's silouhette onto the
I took a couple of polaroids, including a close-up of Ray's profile.
contacted Ray in Locust Valley, NY. when the Hitchiker was done.
Since I planned a trip to the Allan Stone Gallery in Manhattan,
agreed to pick it up from there.
1981, Ray called and asked me my favorite word. I told him "radar"
its spells both ways, just like how it works. In November he sent me
xerox of an image incorporating the word and a note saying he hoped
I made a lot of photo-documention of the Hitchiker project and
do you do with your old "cut-out" shapes (the background shape)?".
I called him a year later to find out for the record what he
the back of his Hitchiker and where he abandoned it. He told me he
had it. He said he was having trouble letting go of it. I told him
was his part of the deal and that he agreed to it and had to do
called me back a few weeks later and told me he had exhibited it
in Long Island. He told me he couldn't let
it go, that he had added a necklace and had grown too
it. Using a label John H. Neff had put on him, I said "Ray, you're
Master of the Throw-away Gesture. Give it up. It's only an image."
I never heard from Ray again.
On January 13, 1995, Ray Johnson stunned his friends and the art
by going off a bridge into the glassy waters of Sag Harbor, Long
Years later, I tried to recover the Hitchhiker from the Richard
Feigan Art Gallery and was told it was in a warehuse with the rest
of Rays legacy. Much later, I called to make arrangements,
they called back to tell me they couldn't find it. Browsing
the internet, I came across an image of the cut-off upper half of it
attached to a post.
In 2002, John Waters created a 90 minute
award winning film about Ray, "How to Draw a Bunny." A
couple of stills of the image (right) of Ray picking the HitchHiker
from the Stone Gallery are in the film.
Pallas home page
Comments and Questions