Sunday, April 14, 2013
Mara Thompson & Ray Johnson: One Degree of Separation 
Above: Mara Thompson and Ray Johnson: Mara Thompson's Audrey Johnson, collage on paper, made from copies of Marie Tavroges Stillkind's Ray Johnson letters. Circa 2010.
In 1951 my mother and father married. Mom was and is great friends with Marie Tavroges Stilkind, and they have kept in touch.
My mother moved to Canada during WWII, and went to art school. My father, John Falk, was a student and beatnik at the time, eventually earning a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology and practicing as a research scientist and teacher (and published poet).
I grew up with a strong interest in the arts, often skipping high school classes to go to the Los Angeles Museum of Art and the local library. After graduation I found my way to ten years of “living on the land” working a farm in the Ozarks. I returned to Southern California in 1982 and began a twenty year career with the phone company. At the end, I was a Systems Engineer. After leaving them, I went to work for Otis College of Art and Design and began my second career as artist.
It was at Otis that I met the best art instructor of my life, Franklyn Liegel. It was he who introduced me to the collages and the life of Ray Johnson. Immediately I was thoroughly taken with Ray’s practice. I still watch the movie, “How to Draw a Bunny” at least once a year. I dream about him. I dream about Franklyn.. (see my posthumous collaboration on page fifty in the book, there is a full preview available to review on line).
LEFT: Collage by Mara Thompson, 2010.
In conversation, my mother mentioned that Marie was the first Secretary of The New York Correspondance School! Thus began my friendship and pen pal relationship with Marie.
Over the years Marie has told me many stories, shared clippings and gossip, books and paraphernalia. She has been a constant source of inspiration, and I very much value her history in the arts of the time. I began to explore the world of mail art.
I’ve enclosed a smattering of my postcards for your pleasure. I’ve been involved with a Ray Johnson inspired series of exhibitions, the first, A Book About Death, curated by Matthew Rose at the Emily Harvey Foundation in 2009.
After that exhibition I insinuated my way into curation of a similar event in the Fine Arts building at Otis.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments – Mara Thompson.