Zombilly Ray, a local lowbrow artist, jokes that you need to be a Spanish diplomat to get his real name right. It's long and ethnic, and a lot of people have trouble with it. He uses an unusual moniker as his artist name to keep his personal life separate from his work. People call him Ray, and he enjoys the lack of formality. On Friday, July 12, Ray will be hosting "the Lowbrow Shakedown" concert/art show/charity fundraiser at the Surly Wench. The 21-and-older event starts at 8 p.m. and is $6 at the door, with all proceeds benefiting the Mary Serrano Foundation, a local organization that helps intercity youth. Learn more about Ray at Zombillyrayart.net. Find out more about the Mary Serrano Foundation at themaryserranofoundation.vpweb.com.
Tell me about yourself.
I started drawing when I was 2 years old, and when I was 12 years old I just stopped altogether. Then, something really drastic happened in my life; really changed my life and it changed my life for the better. My grandmother died. I was 24 and I decided that I wanted to get sober and that I wanted to change my life. I was a habitual liar and I stole from the people I loved. My dad didn't trust me with anything. My dad is an Iraqi war veteran so I have a lot of respect for him. I started to change my life and part of it was making amends with the people I knew and that I loved. Now, my father trusts me with anything. I started drawing again. I started working on my profession as a graphic designer, as a lowbrow artist, so I started working with more and more people. I've done stuff for all kinds of people; I've done stuff for different bands, Dropkick Murphys, Green Day, all kinds of different bands. It's from word of mouth and good reputation because I tend to be very professional; I don't like to mix my personal life and my professional life. Always working, always busy, always hustling. I gotta do what I gotta do.
Why lowbrow art?
Lowbrow art is a movement based on the concept that you don't necessarily need to be in a gallery to be an artist. I've always been kind of tongue-in-cheek, not serious about anything. I had a hard upbringing and so I've always been the joker. I never wanted to take myself too seriously so I got into the lowbrow thing which has always been kind of comedic at the same time. It doesn't take itself very seriously. I really enjoyed that aspect of human involvement. A lot of people take themselves too seriously; it ruins things for everybody.
What's going on at the Friday event?
There's going to be live music; there's going to be everything from Mexican surf, Tex-Mex to rockabilly, sockabilly a little bit of punk, pin striping, some local artists, comic book artists. I've got my mix as like a lowbrow but impressionistic turn on pop culture and perspective. I have someone selling vintage clothing; someone selling photography, jewelry, accessory, all kinds of stuff.
It seems like an unusual approach to fundraising for charity.
It caught your attention, though. That's exactly the point; that's why I do what I do. I get this all the time. People say, "You always do things for charity even though you're so vastly in another corner where people wouldn't associate you with charity," but it's all about your heart. If you're willing to help people it doesn't matter what you do. That's how I've got to live my life; I've got to make some kind of a difference. Every event that I have is a charity event, no matter what it is. I give 90 to 100 percent of the proceeds to charity every time because I believe people should give back to the community and make a difference.
Why did you choose this charity?
It's kind of a fledgling charity, but it's specifically to help those trying to get their lives back together. (It's for) abused women, and it's for children in the intercity to have programs, different activities and what not and people who have been addicts to help them find work, those who are trying to turn their life around in Tucson. I love this city because I'm from this city. I'm a seventh generation Tucsonan, since before it was America pretty much. I think that this city has a lot to it and some people don't see that.