Raleigh Rambles

John Dancy-Jones at large!


Studies Building at BMC Lake Eden campus

I first gained a strong interest in Black Mountain College after viewing the large exhibition curated by Mary Emma Harris at the new location of the North Carolina Museum of Art in 1987. I was fascinated by the letterpress printing of playbills and other campus promotions. This seemed like my kind of place! I had no idea at the time that Ray Johnson had attended BMC, nor just how radical and important the fusion of art and democracy created at the school was for the history of art. When I discovered the BMCM+AC, large pieces of my artistic experience began to coalesce: my correspondence with Ray, my day with Rauschenberg, the philosophy of John Dewey, and my deepest Blakean desires to create art on my own terms.

BMC conference

ReVIEWING is the annual conference held by the BMC museum on the campus of UNC-A. A mix of leading BMC scholars, both affiliated and private, graduate students, artist and fans, it is a marvelous showcase of ideas and performances.

2009 BMC conference review by JDJ

 RR post: Ray J at the BMC Conference 2010

2011 Conference: Focus on Ray J

Preview of 2013 Conference and the Meander screentprint

RR post: 2013 Conference: Farm and Print Shop


Conference Project for 2014

6th edition of Re Viewing: Black Mountain College: September 2014


Exhibit and Event posts

RR post: upcoming Ray J show; Jon. Williams project; Raleigh & BMC

Ray Johnson show review by JDJ

Ray Johnson Show posthumously – lecture and endshow

Hunt Library Hosts Amazing BMC Educational Happening

The BMCMAC Fires All Cylinders for Ray J’s Paper Snake Show

Jonathan Williams Anthology review

Rauschenberg Exhibition Essay


Rauschenberg dies at 82!

My Rauschenberg story

Lab School, Washington, D.C. 1994.  Inaugural workshop of “The Power of Art,” conceived, funded and presented by Mr. Rauschenberg.  We spent the day with him!  The Lab School is for kids with learning disabilities – Robert Rauschenberg found out as an adult that he had a learning disability ( as distinguished from being what he thought was “stupid”) from Sally Smith, founder of The Lab School.  He became a supporter of the school, and the “Power of Art” program, of which I was a charter participant, rewarded art teachers who worked with that that population.  Mr Rauschenberg treated us to a presentation along with his assistant, gave us signed posters, a five hundred dollar gift certificate to Jerry’s Artarama,and sat and listened to each of us present about our work. That evening, we were feted at a private reception at the National Gallery’s East Wing, and Mr Rauschenberg favored us with a tour of his own work on the walls.  He discussed his decision to create the “white painting” while at Black Mountain (Josef Albers thought it a needless extreme), and he gave a vivid description of painting the huge 25 foot work which was on display in the main room -smearing his hands with the white lead paint for hours and then having to go into immediate treatment for weeks because of the lead poisoning.  He was charming and down-to-earth, yet fragile and a bit ethereal in his personal presence.  That was a wonderful day.


photo by H Archer

My Ray Johnson Story

Ray J snake signature March 1977_1_1

Clyde took me to see the huge mail art retrospective at The NC Museum of Art in 1976, when it was still located in downtown Raleigh.  Richard C, a curator there and a friend of Ray’s, had arranged the show.  I went back to Greensboro dreaming of many new possibilities, having seen that stunning, killer show.  I had never heard of the term “zine,” but I gathered writings from my friends and creative cousins and put one together.  Ray Johnson, whose address was all over the catalog of the show, was first on my mailing list.

Of course, he wrote me back.  Again, a galvanizing energizing moment in my creative life.  I was quizzed indeed to open the dozen or so ink works on board by Ken Friedman he sent me, folding Ken’s envelope in half and sending the whole batch my way.  I figured Ken was a fan, which perhaps he was, though he has gone on to some fame himself as a correspondance artist.  I followed Ray’s directions to send off to Richard C the torn out page from a European magazine he sent the second time, and that was the last I heard from him.  Richard C and I became friends, and in 1987 I had a show of his mail art at The Paper Plant.

Below are some collaged bits of Ray’s sendings to me.

Ray J 1st sending_1_1

my Ray Johnson page 

 All work of Ray Johnson on this site is used by permission of The Ray Johnson Estate


Anni Albers and NCSU’s Scholar’s program

The program is named for a designer who exemplifies the ideals and goals to which the program aspires: textile designer and artist Anni Albers.  NCSU’s Gregg Museum oversees a number of archives, exhibits and events.

Anni Albers


Jeffery Beam Helps Us Mourn Jonathan Williams

Raleigh Rambles post

Jonathan Williams, 1929 – 2008

Death of a Small Press Publisher


Off-site Links

Black Mountain College Project

Black Mountain Photo Gallery

NC online Archives

Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center

BMCM+AC event archive

Journal of Black Mountain College Studies

Wesleyan College Black Mountain collection

All RR posts on BMC


  1. […] Black Mountain […]

    Pingback by Black Mountain College Continues to Inspire, Fascinate « Raleigh Rambles | January 15, 2010

  2. I can’t believe how lucky you are to have corresponded with Ray Johnson. Your scans and story made my day. I’m super excited to be attending the opening of his Black Mountain show in Asheville.

    Comment by brandi strickland | February 11, 2010

  3. […] Black Mountain […]

    Pingback by BOO KOF KNO WLE DGE – Ray J’s Zen Icons « Raleigh Rambles | August 12, 2011

  4. […] Black Mountain […]

    Pingback by BMC Conference 2013 Zooms in on Craft « Raleigh Rambles | October 12, 2013

  5. […] Black Mountain […]

    Pingback by Book Arts, Farming Fueled Black Mountain College « Raleigh Rambles | November 27, 2013

  6. […] Black Mountain […]

    Pingback by Hunt Library Hosts Amazing BMC Educational Happening « Raleigh Rambles | August 4, 2014

  7. […] Black Mountain […]

    Pingback by Cutting Up for the Black Mountain College Conference « Raleigh Rambles | September 24, 2014

  8. […] Black Mountain […]

    Pingback by At BMC Conference, Performances and Activities Rival Academics « Raleigh Rambles | October 21, 2014

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