Allyson Grey, a conceptual abstract painter and co-founder of CoSM, Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, has long been a mentor and influencer of the contemporary Visionary Art movement. In 1971, in a psychedelic awakening through the guidance of Ram Dass’ book Be Here Now, Allyson heard a voice calling her to express in her art an essentialized world view. Chaos, Order & Secret Writing came to artistically symbolize the three essential characteristics of human perception, a minimal yet all-encompassing artistic statement worthy of immersion for a lifetime. Allyson’s art is a personal and shared meditation on the structure of thought, life and enlightenment.
Secret Writing, the language of creative expression, is untranslatable and beyond concepts. The symbols were originally drawn by the artist in the early 70’s after an intentional LSD journey in which Secret Writing appeared to the artist as clear evidence of God contact. After much practice in automatic writing with infinite characters, the artist chose twenty letters comprising an alphabet with an order. The letter series is sometimes portrayed backwards or in “planned randomness.”
In great museums, we see illuminated manuscripts and framed pages in many languages we are unable to read. We still admire and wonder about the text: Might it be sacred, romantic or profane? Language is a magical code between consciousnesses.
Order symbolically portrays the vast vistas of fountain/drains that roil in the Bliss Field of highest consciousness.
Chaos represents Order plus Entropy, beautiful systems, falling apart in “planned randomness.” Chaos symbolically describes the material realm of existence.
Since 1975, I have shared a studio and been a partner to the internationally renowned artist, Alex Grey. We are the proud parents of the film actress and artist, Zena Grey.
In addition to being a committed painter and social sculptor, Allyson has edited the first draft of Alex's books, Co-Chief Editor of CoSM Journal of Visionary Culture, volumes 1-11 (now in progress), writer & editor of countless articles and interviews throughout the Grey’s partnership.
Allyson is sought after for her open feedback in her long-running blog, Ask Allyson about Art & Life, engaging in conversations relevant to the lives of artists and to all who may be looking for practical observations from a sacred wise woman. On panels and in solo interviews, Allyson represents her view as a spiritual/creative woman. Her favorite topics include: Art as Right Livelihood; Psychedelic Family Business; Everything CoSM; Conscious Conception & Parenting; Relationships; Art School or Not?; Life Transitions; Meditation, Yoga, Piano Practice in your 60’s, the Parsha, and more.
Allyson offers virtual one on one Art and Life consultations. Find out more by contacting [email protected].
Allyson Grey Artist Co-Founder CoSM Chapel of Sacred Mirrors 46 Deer Hill Road Wappinger, NY 12590 Phone: (845) 297-2323 http://www.cosm.org
Allyson Grey is a painter and social sculptor. With an MFA from Tufts University, Grey has long been an art educator, arts organizer and muse to artists worldwide.
Since art school in 1975, Allyson has collaborated and shared a studio with the artist, Alex Grey. The Grey's co-founded the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, (CoSM; cosm.org), a spiritual retreat center for artists outside of New York City. Together, Allyson and Alex have painted on stage in dozens of cities before thousands of dancing young people at festivals and arenas across five continents including Broadway theaters in New York City. As long-time advocates of "cognitive liberty," a growing international "sacramental culture" has embraced the Grey's as mapmakers and spokespersons for the visionary realm.
An art school student at the Boston Museum School in 1971, I felt encouraged to take a landmark LSD journey with the intention of seeing “the white light.” I had recently read the groundbreaking book Be Here Now by Baba Ram Dass and decided to have the experience quietly in my small darkened bedroom rather than partying, hiking or thinking deeply with friends around a fire. My intention to allow the psychedelic state to reveal the “White Light,", lifted the veil of material reality. The faceless, genderless Almighty Force of the Universe was apparent, flowing through all beings and things. It was in that state of realization that my eyes were opened to SECRET WRITING. The mystic language flowed in ribbons, washing over all surfaces. Infinite characters expressed the "Nameless Presence” of higher consciousness sent from "Realms of the Unpronounceable.” Within that mind state came this realization -- that every thought becomes a thing through symbols. It is through symbols that our minds make sense of the world.
From that experience, SECRET WRITING entered as a private body of work that I did not share in art school. The artwork I created at that time distinguished itself as a unique series of labor intensive mixed media installations addressing the subject of “The Self,” works that portrayed personal angst and inquired into psychological states of mind. Soon after "knowing" Alex, who was familiar with my self-revelatory and self-depricating creations, I shared this cache and he recognized the significance of the SECRET WRITING embedded in my private stash. Alex’s original insight shifted my focus and a year later, my Tufts University Master of Fine Arts Thesis for and my Museum School Fifth Year Review Board both dominated in drawings, prints and body-art documentation devoted to SECRET WRITING. Psychedelics being an entirely taboo subject in 1976, my written thesis omitted any discussion of the true origins of SECRET WRITING
CoSM: SOCIAL SCULPTURE
Social Sculpture, coined by Joseph Beuys, the artist & co-founder of the German Green Party, used the term to describe art's potential to transform society.
The light of social sculpture shines at CoSM, in lovingly crafting personal and group experiences and by cultivating creative leadership for the “Great Uplifting.” Preparing and offering temple grounds as a gift to the global community of Visionary Artists is a work of Social Sculpture. Meditating a great plan into existence, a plan in which we live and work and learn together as spiritual friends in higher consciousness and offer a center promoting art as a spiritual path, a unique offering in nature, founded by a man and a woman as life-partners with their community -- this is an artwork of Social Sculpture.
Visionary Language In the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Daniel tells of Belshazzar, 6th-century B.C. prince of Babylon, who saw the writing on the wall. During a banquet for a thousand statesmen, Belshazzar ordered all the goblets of gold, stolen from the conquered and destroyed Temple in Jerusalem, to be brought out for his guest to admire and drink wine. At that moment, a hand appeared and began writing on a wall. Amazement and fear brought forth the palace astrologers, magicians and soothsayers, but none could interpret the writing on the wall. The queen remembered Daniel, an old Jew who was given the position of chief magician by Belshazzar father and predecessor, King Nebuchadnezzar. If Daniel could interpret the writing, Belshazzar would empower him as a ruling vizier. Daniel declined the king's offer of prestige and influence, but interpreted the writing:
Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
Daniel warned Belshazzar that allowing his nobles and whores to drink from the precious goblets stolen from the Temple in Jerusalem and worshipping the gods of gold and silver would bring down his reign. In gratitude for his insight, the king decreed that Daniel, interpreter of the secret language, become the third highest ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain.
A sacred God-contact experience occurred for Belshazzar and Daniel, the prophet interpreted the secret writing that came from a higher source. -- excerpt from foreword by Allyson Grey
for Xenolinguistics: Psychedelics, Language, and the Evolution of Consciousness by Diana Slattery, a comprehensive examination of the revelation and record of sacramentally inspired Secret Writing in artwork, reports and experimental inquiry.
Interview with Allyson Grey by Peter Terezakis
Interviewer: You are married to a successful artist and devote so much energy and time to Alex's art. You are yourself a very accomplished artist, but with less renown. Can you talk about that?
Allyson: Alex is the most profoundly amazing artist and person I have ever known. It is a privilege to commit my life to sharing his brilliant art and thought with the widest audience possible, and to work toward its enduring permeation into world culture. His art, which expresses transcendence and self-realization, takes on the most important subject about which creativity can address. What better way to make a difference in my lifetime? His success is my success. It is true that my art is less renown, yet I have never given up painting and Alex encourages me. We both feel that I'm doing the best work I've ever done. Doing my art is a commitment of love and it gives me great pleasure to do it and share it with others. The work I offer to the Chapel will be left as an enduring statement.
Interviewer: Divorce is so common today. What do you think is the key to maintaining a loving relationship for 31 years?
Allyson: Being best friends and having common goals works very well. Being supportive of one another and seeing every challenge in the relationship as an opportunity for personal transformation -- this is essential for getting through rough patches.
Alex always credits me with the conception and title of the Sacred Mirrors. Both publicly and privately, Alex honors my contribution to his life and work. People who know us can see that I have dedicated myself to Alex's work. This mutual honoring recognizes the part played by the other in our personal transformation, acknowledging the other as the "source" in one’s life. Wherever this mutual honoring falls down, that is where the relationship falls down. Alex and I feel that seeing the "other" as "source" is the key to an ideal relationship.
A young couple, very in love, came to the Buddha to ask a question. "We love each other so much," they said, "and cannot bear the pain of knowing that one day we will be parted by death?"
The Buddha replied, "If you stay true to the teachings and follow the path in the same way, it is possible that you could be reborn as the same person."
Being as loving of yourself as you are of your most beloved could lead to being reborn as a Buddha. It's a venerable goal.
Interviewer: You have worked and helped your daughter Zena begin an acting career. How has it been as a stage mom?
Allyson: It has been a gift that Zena and I have had this relationship throughout most of her life. It has given us a common goal and brought us close together even in her teen years when it is so easy to lose touch. I'm very grateful to Zena for including me on the exciting ride that it has been, taking me to so many interesting places and introducing me to so many fascinating people.
On the set, Zena is the focus and I am invisible which is great practice for my ego. Being separated from Alex for periods of time has been an important practice of non-attachment and self-sufficiency.
Interviewer: You and Alex have raised a successful and responsible teenager and have been open and public about drug use in your life. Do you have advice for parents?
Allyson: Hypocrisy doesn't work with children. They detect it and it has the most undesirable results. Alex and I recommend telling the truth and only sharing as much as your young person is willing or interested to know. That said, we feel that engaging in altered states of consciousness should be reserved for a more mature ego. There seems to be a natural "coming of age" at which time young people of many cultures often seek some experimentation with substances.
I have been the kind of parent that worries and continually questions my own parenting, but at my best, I remember things I appreciated about my parents, and I try to imitate them. I recall the things I didn't appreciate and try to correct them. Overwhelming, when my parents were candid and honest, I felt honored by their trust, but not necessarily motivated to follow exactly in their path. In fact, often quite the opposite.
Interviewer: You've been called the "Goddess of Get Your Shit Together". Many people see your role as "the muse". What's that about?
Allyson: There is a kind of listening one can do when others talk about what they really want in different areas of their life -- their art, their relationships, their job, etc. Sometimes one can be a mirror for that person and reflect back what seems so obvious to another but hidden from oneself. I can be counted on to tell the truth as I see it. I am firmly committed to supporting people in having a life they love, and believe firmly that having that fulfillment is entirely possible.
Interviewer: Now that we got that out of the way, let's talk about your art.
Your work is intensely meticulous and complex. How did this evolve?
Allyson: I started painting spectral squares in the late 70's after an acid trip I shared with Alex, which pointed us both in the direction of portraying the multi-colored strands of light energy that formed a vista of interconnected fountains and drains, flowing in a pattern that spread to infinity in all directions. This experience lifted the veil over the loom-matrix of our highest identity, of being a node in the net of space and time. This was clearly the most profound revelation of our existence, and was to become the subject of our art for a lifetime.
My work is based on the following principles:
- Life is a system made up of small cells or light/energy packets.
- Each square in the paintings is like a cell and the spectrum is a system.
- Life is comprised of order and chaos, symbolically portrayed in my paintings.
- Order is the experience of all things interconnecting.
- Chaos is entropy and dissolution of order.
- Secret writing symbolizes all communication and creativity -- the unutterable truth beyond language that is pointed to by sacred text.
Secret writing in my paintings represents a language beyond literal interpretation, a language so universal that it cannot be translated.
Language is like a portal through which the inner world of order may pass into the outer world of chaos.
I work with oil paint and a small brush on a wooden surface. The piece is completely drawn in graphite and colored pencils before I begin to paint. For me, making a painting is like creating a giant puzzle and a paint by numbers kit. What the painting will look like is completely pre-determined but always somewhat of a surprise, like a photograph that develops before your eyes.
Shows and Exhibitions
SOLO SHOWS: O.K. Harris Gallery, New York, NY
Stux Gallery, New York, NY Stux Gallery, Boston, MA Emerson Gallery, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY Merrimack College, Lawrence, MA Cohen Art Center, Tufts University, Medford, MA
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS:
“Tiny Visions,” Hive Gallery, Los Angeles, CA "The Spiritual In Art", Islip Art Museum, Islip, NY "Psychedelicatessen", Acme Art Gallery, San Francisco, CA "Interfaith", New York Open Center Gallery, NYC, NY "Threadlore", The New York Open Center, New York "Cyberdelia", Synchro Energize, NYC, NY "Altered States/50th Anniversary of LSD", Art Rock Gallery, San Francisco, CA "Ritual Labor", Emerson Gallery, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY "The Map is Not the Territory", Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA "Nepotism II", Max Fish, New York, NY "High Density Abstraction", Bard College, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY "NYC at New Visions", New Visions Gallery, Ithaca, NY "Perdurabo", Proctor Art Center, Bard College, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY White Columns Gallery, New York, NY "White Columns at Javits Center", New York, NY San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco, CA Stux Gallery, New York, NY "Labor Intensive Abstraction", The Clocktower, New York, NY "Brockton Triennial", Brockton Art Museum, Brockton, NY Provincetown Art Association, Provincetown, MA Springfield Museum of Fine Art, Springfield, MA "New England Women Artists", Northeastern University Gallery, Boston, MA Nesto Gallery, Milton, MA Donnelly & Stux Gallery, Boston, MA Helen Shlien Gallery, Boston, MA Project, Inc., Cambridge, MA Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA Brockton Art Museum, Brockton, MA
SELECTED COLLECTOR LIST: Corporate; IBM, Boston, MA Biogen Corporation, Cambridge, MA Home Life Insurance, New York, NY New England Mutual Life, Burlington, MA Medford Savings Bank, Medford, MA Chevron Corporation, San Francisco, CA Inn at the Colonade, Baltimore, MD
Private; Mr. Ken Fried, Boston, MA Mr. & Mrs. Henry Foster, Boston, MA Mr. & Mrs. Richard Meyers, Chicago, IL Mrs. Howard Wagonheim, Baltimore, MD Ms. Catherine Wyler, Washington, D.C. Joachim Neugroschel, New York, NY Mr. & Mrs. Jean-Michel Wasterlain, Brooklyn, NY
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY: Grey, Alex and Grey, Allyson, "Life & Artistry", Tantra: The Magazine, Issue #3, Hardy, Ellen, "Review of White Columns show", Arts Magazine, Furstenberg, Marc, "Review of show at O.K. Harris Gallery, Downtown Magazine McCormick, Carlo, "High Art - Allyson Grey", High Times Magazine Schwabsky, Barry, "The Invisible Scene", New York/Berlin Magazine(NYB), Issue #2 Kologe, Brian, "Review of show at Merrimack College", Art New England Roche, Eileen, "Kaleidoscopic Grey", Sojouner Temin, Christine, "Review of show at Stux Gallery, The Boston Globe Taylor, Robert, "New England Women Painters", The Boston Globe Giuliano, Charles, "Gallery Go Round", The Boston Ledger Baker, Kenneth, "Scouting for Talent", The Boston Phoenix Wright, Sarah, "Artweek Visiting", The Real Paper