April Featured Artist Spotlight | Ray Ray Mitrano

We are pleased to spotlight Ray Ray Mitrano the April Featured Artist


About Ray Ray Mitrano

Ray Ray Mitrano is a prolific illustrator, artist, educator, and community member. Ray Ray loves to participate in community events, performances, workshops, and group exhibitions. Interactive storytelling is a major part of what he does, whether it involves drawing, animation, education, performing, videography, or multi-media installation. His experimental work embraces collaborative improvisation within conceptual frameworks.

See more more of his work here

When did you start your career as an artist?

RRM: I was five and walked outside onto my parent’s suburban driveway. Four helicopters were overhead, in a diamond formation. I drew them, along with the pond across the street and other houses and trees. 
 From that day forward, my father started bringing home Kodak letter-head paper, from his work, for me to draw on.

Where did you get the inspiration for your work?

RRM:Community engagement through interactive situations are an integral part of my audience sourced practice. Whether it be “all ages” creative spaces at public events or the interpretation of ink marks in a workshop; inducing imagery out of people and cultivating imagination together is often where my work is directed. I take impulsive drawing and performance interviewing to an environment where folks can comfortably explore ideas together. A farmer’s market with live music, the grand opening of a grocery store, or a monthly radio show can all be settings to form my integrative work. I weave my pursuits throughout communally minded ! institutions, businesses and ongoing events that I want cultivated in society. My practice is informed by them and we grow mutually beneficial to each other.

What makes you want to be an artist?

RRM: “Everybody is an artist.” – Joseph Beuys!
I don’t want to be an artist. I want to work with people who don’t usually “make art” to resolve issues; especially within municipal services and their community.Working with folks who see art only as expression through “Mona Lisa paintings”; whether they can make that product or not determines their arts engagement; altering that perception with collaborative interactions.
“Look at the process! The process is the art! Art is the work. We can work together more powerfully with creative approaches.”

For you how does art relate to wellness?

RRM: Drawing and painting is therapy. Performance and improvisational group work brings me so much emotional reward. Being able to clarify frustrations and work out issues through art concepts is something every person, regardless of their “work”, needs in their public education.
 Healthy communication is important. The more creatively apt folks are, the easier it is to interact with each other.

How do you stay healthy as a creative?

RRM: Pacing myself Keeping to a foundation of priorities. Not attempting to multi-task. Bit-by-bit goes much further than anxious-cramming. Sustainable, incremental communications.
A snail’s pace wins the race.

“The unknown is more friendly than we think.” – D.H. Lawrence
 ! Embracing the unknown.

What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of your career?

RRM: The grotesque disparity of income-based wealth in our country. The corporate elite machine deciding what “art” and “arts and culture” is: how it works economically, who certain types of art is for, where it is to be, and how art workers are paid. The total lack of funding in the arts. Arts not being fully integrated into our public schools.
Working families having little experience with meaningful art and not having the budget to participate in the arts and culture of surrounding communities.Getting art workers to realize they have power together. They need to organize, act, and disrupt. We have power together. We know how to persuade, communicate, and stir raw emotion into action. Getting artists to realize they are making political work, whether they ! see it that way or not; it will be leveraged as a tool by others. Getting artists to strategize ! ! with their neighbors and folks who could benefit from a creative perspective.

When you aren’t painting/drawing/photographing what are you doing?

RRM: Eating a mostly plant based diet. Trying to avoid processed sugar. Bicycling to get around town ( I don’t own a car. ) It’s hard to come up with what else I do outside of making; with much of my work coming from a social arts perspective.
I work in food service at a local cafe.

What is it that inspires you to keep going as professional artist?

RRM: The way simple acts of art have so much power in shaping my relationships and community at large.

What are you working on now?


  • Rochester Art Workers ( RAW ) a union of local artists organizing socially for a “” ” sustainable arts economy.
  • ” WAYO 104.3 FM Monthly radio shows. ( WAYO Play )
  • Seasonal shares for my Community Supported Art (CSA) program.
Intersecting various groups and organizations around town.

  • “Getting artists to strategize more like activists and activists to create more like artists.” –
  • The Center for Artistic Activism
Cultivating a municipal arts program that brings artists in to work with City/County departments and legislators in going about issues, enacting services, and community engagement through creative approaches. Sort of like a civic artist in residence program:
  • See Minneapolis, Boston, New York City, Portland, Maine, and many more variations

What’s has been your best experience so far as an artist?

RRM: So many. My work deals with art as experience. Poetry expanded beyond hand written moments, into a dance amongst routine priorities, alongside others who may not recognize art making daily. I engage with people creatively in part to fulfill my own need for social connection. We can create without paper and crayons or simply with our presence as a group. Our ! work is made through interaction. If my art is without society, then it is without me.

What has been your biggest challenge as an artist? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?

RRM: Harnessing other economic models and perceptions of arts and culture work. Instigating diverse, citizen-led underwriting and decision-making for the arts that they want produced in their neighborhoods. Community based work. Community supported art.
See artandwork.us <<< A great resource for navigating and leveraging these challenges.

What advice do you have for others interested in pursuing as career in art?

RRM: You do not work alone. No matter what type of arts work you’re making. Even in a studio, late at night, under a lamp; you are surrounded by others working. We all shape each other. Organize a group of five others and meet once a month. Repeat an activity together. Take turns leading the group. When the time comes for your group to act; you’ll already know how to dance together. Associate in your work environment!

Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?

RRM: I love to meet-up over hot-drinks around town. Feel free to reach out in collaboration. xoxo Ray Ray

 Register for Ray Ray’s opening reception

Published by Calvin Eaton

(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton is a disabled community educator, content creator, and social entrepreneur, whose area of expertise includes antiracism, equity, justice, instructional design, and program development. In 2016 Mr. Eaton founded 540WMain, Inc. a non-profit online and community-based organization for accessible education and events that promote justice for all.

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