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[00:00:01.3] LL: Hello amazing beautiful visionaries of EntheoNation. This is Lorna Liana, I’m your host for an exciting interview with two of my favorite artists in the world, Alex and Allyson Grey, who had a long history of developing their own unique styles of visionary art but also co-creating a shared vision together that involves community and creating an amazing temple to the visionary art world.
So the mystic paintings of Alex Grey, articulate realms of psychedelic visionary consciousness, revealing interwoven energies of body, soul, love, and spirit and illuminate the anatomical core of each being. While Allyson Grey MFA is a painter, social sculpture and is Alex’s creative collaborator, life partner, and studio mate since art school in1975 and her work encompasses order, chaos, and secret writing.
And so, over the many years of following both their work, I’ve been so deeply moved and impressed why they work of art that they’re creating together. So I am very excited to have them here with us today to share with us what the secrets are to creating a power house visionary partnership that really has such an ambitious, creative project in the works that is really going to be a deep benefit to all people.
So thank you so much for joining us here today.
[00:01:31.6] AG2: Oh thanks for having us Lorna.
[00:01:33.9] LL: So I would love to hear more about how you guys met. How long have you been together, and when you guys met each other was it love at first sight?
[00:01:43.9] AG2: Well, we met in an art school in a class called Conceptual Mixed Media and we met on the level of art can be made of all mediums, mixed media, and it really is thought based, it’s thought oriented. So whatever — your concepts are more important than the materials that you’re using. Materials come second.
Anyway, we met in art school but we met in love when Alex had his first LSD trip in my apartment. I was giving the end of year party and I always gave parties but I gave the end of year party and I invited Alex because he was the studio assistant of the guy who I was going out with.
[00:02:30.1] LL: Oh wait, you were with somebody else?
[00:02:31.6] AG2: He was the professor of Conceptual Mixed Media. I was going out with the professor and Alex was working for him. So I would see him working in his studio. He was doing this guy’s paintings. He was a conceptual artist and Alex was doing his paintings because he was a great painter. He’d been a billboard painter, and he was so impressive. Anyway, I’ve been in this school for years and Alex seemed to like my work too, he always says he did.
[00:02:54.9] AG1: Amazing artist.
[00:02:55.9] AG2: Yeah, well I was working on sculpture and installation, and very inner work, and very personal work and Alex’s work was so raw but I didn’t think of him as somebody I would go out with. I was going out with the professor, but then the professor brought Alex to my apartment for this end of year party and he had a bottle of Kahlua and LSD and he gave it to Alex and Alex had never tripped before. I had been tripping quite a bit. At that point, I had been tripping for six years and all kinds of experimenting. Alex had put that off, I think, wisely, don’t you think?
[00:03:37.0] AG1: It was perfect the way that it was but I didn’t really realize that. I mean earlier that morning, I had kind of dared God to show me a sign that I shouldn’t kill myself, basically. If God did exist, then show me a sign because I am ready to check out and I was 21 and I was desperately sad and probably worried about my mental stability or something.
So I was so depressed a lot of my teenage years that I didn’t want to take LSD because I thought that will just make it worst and so I’d avoided it. But now, I had already decided, “Ah, what the hell,” I was practically ready to kill myself. So somebody offers me LSD, why not? So I drank about half the bottle and got to her apartment. She drank the rest of it.
[00:04:45.4] LL: That sounds like a lot.
[00:04:46.4] AG1: Yeah.
[00:04:47.6] LL: Too much Kahlua really LSD has no flavor, you can’t find it anywhere but that’s what really what did it, right?
[00:04:55.5] AG1: Probably, yeah but there probably wasn’t a full bottle at all. Probably just had some and the professor knew what he was doing and I think that what it did for me because I sat down on the couch and didn’t talk to anybody the entire evening.
[00:05:16.1] AG2: No, we didn’t speak that evening.
[00:05:17.3] AG1: I just totally went inside. I couldn’t even speak to anyone. I was so overwhelmed and it was such a weird trip because I’ve never had a trip like this ever since. It was just one vision the entire trip. Now that doesn’t even seem possible in retrospect but for hours, I was having this vision of going through a tunnel.
I was in the dark part of the tunnel and just around the corner was this beautiful light and the light was shining, I knew that was God. Question answered. Okay, a divine reality exists. All is not lost, love is real and it’s right around that corner. I can just see it. I’m in the dark but I’m going towards the light. So that kind of turned around, I could see that all the shades of grey held the opposites together and so I decided, “I’m going to change my name to Grey,” because it unites the polarities.
[00:06:31.6] AG2: Now you didn’t decide that you were falling in love with me at that moment but you did call me.
[00:06:36.6] AG1: I called her the very next day because for me, this was a completely revolutionary insight that now, I was instantly like a mystic but I didn’t really realize it or know it but I had so much supercharged hope and love, I just thought, “Wow, that girl she had the rest of that brew, I’m going to call her right now and see if anything happened to her. She was nice to me in inviting me to her party.”
[00:07:14.0] AG2: Well, I told you in a previous time that I had this experience when I was 20 of the secret writing washing over all surfaces and it changed my life because I got what God was. I went from being a godless politico in the early 70’s, late 60’s to be a sort of a seeker and I just went meditating with Yogi Bhajan. This is all before I met Alex, so when Alex came to me and he has this incredible spiritual opening, I had never really told him about this because you didn’t talk about spirituality in the early to mid 70’s. I didn’t tell my review board that my thesis was based on an LSD trip. No, you couldn’t talk about it.
Now you can talk about it, things have really rolled forward. Even though we still live with the secrecy of sacrament, things are better because we can talk about it. But anyway, when Alex came to me and had that experience, it resonated. I was talking with somebody about the spiritual opening, that psychedelic swirl. Nobody was talking about that. Anyway, but I had gone to start meditating. Alex and I, we both just started on this spiritual path together.
[00:08:35.2] AG1: Yeah, it was instantaneous we fell in love with each other. Then it was like, “Oh my God.” We went on a date and never left, you know?
[00:08:45.7] AG2: We basically, we had two separate apartments that we were both moving out of because it was the end of school and we moved in together.
[00:08:53.1] AG1: Yeah.
[00:08:53.3] LL: So basically it went from LSD experience in your apartment, Alex is sitting the entire night on a sofa not talking to anybody, and then you guys moved in together right after that?
[00:09:04.6] AG2: We had a date, we talked about it and we just did it. We were just kind of — it was either my apartment or your apartment until we moved into this loft. Now, this is really relevant to relationship advice and things like that because we moved into this raw space with no bathroom, no kitchen, the floor had to be sanded, there were no walls, we were dividing a 6,000 square foot floor into three units and we had to build it.
So building brought us together because even though we decided we were going to live together, we had to make decisions together. We had to design it. We had to figure out what the finishes were going to be in. We had to work seriously like saw things.
[00:09:47.8] AG1: Carry plaster board together.
[00:09:50.2] AG2: Carry plaster board together. We cast all 21 sacred mirror firms together in1985. So in any case, we learned to work together by building and building has been in the center of our relationship always because we were in that loft for nine years and then we got kicked out and then we bought a loft in New York together with our money.
We put it all together and we bought a loft in Brooklyn and we built it. It was raw again, no bathroom, no kitchen, we had to build it. So that was nine years later. So building is very good. I have to say it doesn’t have to be building but I do recommend a shared project with your partner. Not just like you both like to go to the movies and you go to the movies every week.
Make it something that you’ve created, create something together. That’s why people have children, they are families because they are creating something together. But then, when the children are all grown up and they don’t need you anymore, then what are you creating together? Because you have to keep creating together.
And that’s, I think, what’s been very central to our success if you’re wondering why we’ve been together for 41 years. It’s because we are always creating together and I think it’s also because we have a shared spiritual center. We have a shared spiritual life. If one person is an Atheist, devout like hard core and then another has a religion like a Christian or something, it’s going to be tough. Because the principal center of those people is not aligned.
They might have an attraction to each other and they might like to both go to the movies but there’s this principal center that is not aligned. So for us, even though I grew up Jewish and Alex grew up Protestant and both parents are fairly, somewhat spiritual. Not hugely, but spiritual love is different but together, we see we have spiritual life that’s the same because we both had our God contact and God opening with LSD and we understand and we’ve been doing LSD periodically, not often but occasionally and periodically in order to revisit god contact. The personal contact with the divine, one on one, me and God.
[00:12:16.9] LL: Well Alex, when I look at your art, there seems to be a very strong Tibetan Buddhist influence. Would you consider yourself to be practicing Tibetan Buddhist and both of you or what is your primary practice, so to speak?
[00:12:32.9] AG1: Well, at this point I did study Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen approach for quite a number of years and part of what I saw as an inherent message in the Dzogchen teachings were regarding the universal creativity as weaving the web we’re in and that the Vajrayana if you look at the non-dual center of the Vajra, this circle is the non-dual core that which is both manifest in that which transcends manifestation.
The intelligent order of the cosmos that precedes the cosmos. That’s the non-dual center that then expresses in both Nirvana and Samsara. Both are coming off of this non-dual energy and it’s really a matter of your perception, your view is what ultimately determines whether you’re living in Samsara or Nirvana and so the meditation for the Dzogchen practitioner is never supposed to end. There’s not an end to contemplation.
Contemplation is every potential moment of now and so awake-ness and awareness, even though it seems like an impossible task perhaps, for a lot of creative people when they feel like they’re open to the flow of creative expression, I believe that this universal creativity that’s at the heart of the Dzogchen teachings and is speaking through each of the great masters is that ultimate energy that isn’t defined or confined to a particular tradition.
But as they said, the Dzogchen teachings are known in other galaxies, in other star systems. So this is cosmic energy creating through us and I believe that the aspiration of awareness, mindfulness, all of these core Dharmic teachings are relevant for all of us to develop our consciousness. So my feeling is that each religion has a gift to give to humanity and has been found useful by some of our brothers and sisters for the millennia. So each is deserving of study.
My particular attraction came to that Tibetan Buddhist tradition because I felt like here was a psychedelic art and they were attempting to portray the Nirmanakaya, the material world, the Sambhogakaya, that visionary world, and then the Dharmakaya, that realm beyond depiction. So their aspiration is always multi-tiered, multiple levels of reality should be indicated and I always felt that’s what a visionary work of art had to indicate.
Was that it needed to show dimensionality in order to evoke multiple realms and show that they existed and so I felt like the modern visionary art movement is really in league with the same kind of sacred art expression that Tibetan Buddhist sacred art has back expressed in but there it’s more code defined. Here, the art perhaps is slightly more idiosyncratic but there is now an existing and growing encyclopedia of these dimensions of reality. I think that love is ultimately at the core of it.
The images of unity, and aspiration, and divine connection, connection with a spiritual source are ultimately the self-god contact. That is the primary mystical experience and that is an experience of infinite love and when one is tapped into that and then can recognize that in the other, there is an equal fountain of love and that each of us are that and when you bond with another and you have that common understanding, it’s potential that — well, I think an angel told me that the inevitable consequence of love is the building of temples.
[00:18:23.5] LL: Wow. I love that.
[00:18:24.5] AG2: Now you know why I had that inception, because two people that love each other so much like Alex and I, and are called to invite more people into love and a community is a community of love if it is around a temple. So you have like a principal center. Our principle we have stated before, tolerance, and acceptance, and diversity, and love, especially love.
So in any case, around the common core of radical welcoming, we could have a loving community. So that’s the inevitable consequence of love because when you love each other, you want to make something together but then when you love a lot of people, you want to make something together too and what do you make that you can all share? A temple is something where you can do all the most fun things. Dancing, and singing, and acting, and art, and music, so that’s why the temple.
[00:19:30.8] LL: Thank you so much. So we’re about at the end of this interview segment. I just wanted to conclude this beautiful conversation with your vision of this temple that you’re creating together , how do you intend to build it together with each other and with the community?
[00:19:48.0] AG1: Well, we’re in the midst of our Kickstarter campaign to raise money so that we can finish the interior of Entheon and open it. We’re not going to have this elaborate sculpture on our building probably for a few years until we raise the money to create it but it is going to come eventually.
[00:20:14.8] AG2: We do not know this, see I keep trying to tell Alex, it could happen tomorrow.
[00:20:20.4] AG1: It could. It could.
[00:20:21.7] AG2: It’s just a matter of who is called to do this with us and how many and how fast. So it’s just a matter of — what we need to do. It’s to wrap all of the sculpture around this building.
[00:20:34.1] AG1: It’s a three story building.
[00:20:36.2] LL: How do you do that?
[00:20:38.3] AG1: It’s doable.
[00:20:39.6] AG2: Like I was saying off camera, print out and not only is it so doable, the people who do the 20 foot 3D printouts are across the river about 20 minutes from here and gardeners. So they’ve been doing it for other buildings like the Brooklyn Academy of Music in the News School and other New York Institutions.
They can printout 20 foot sculptures, big as 20 feet. Ours will have maybe a dozen or two dozen different molds, printed out and then you make a mold of that, you make a fibreglass mold and you spray in glass reinforced cast concrete on it and then you just attach it to the building. So that is what will happen.
But right now, we are raising money to finish the interior so we can have the exhibition back on view that we had for five years in Manhattan. It was wonderfully successful. So now, we’re going to have it here in the country setting of brilliant tranquility and you must come. It’s on CoSM.org. If you look it up, CoSM.org, it stands for Chapel of Sacred Mirrors.
[00:21:52.1] AG1: And the Kickstarter campaign is Buildentheon.com, that’s an easy way to get to our Kickstarter. It will take you right to the Kickstarter.
[00:22:03.1] AG2: Until June 1st through May 31st, sign up, be a part of building the temple with us and yeah, through May 31st, 2016. But we’ll see you maybe in 2016 or 17 maybe?
[00:22:19.2] AG1: Yeah.
[00:22:19.6] LL: Oh it sounds so exciting. Thank you so much, what an inspiration. So beautiful to see.
[00:22:25.8] AG1: Thank you Lorna.
[00:22:26.7] AG2: Thank you Lorna.
[00:22:29.1] LL: Have a beautiful rest of your evening.
[00:22:31.7] AG2: Bye,