How to Draw a Bunny

Like The Devil and Daniel Johnston and Neil Young: A Heart of Gold, 2002’s How to Draw a Bunny is that rarest type of documentary, the kind about an artistic person that’s enjoyable even if you’re not a fan. In this case, the subject is pop artist Ray Johnson. Perhaps director John W. Walter and interviewees Gerald Ayers, Judith Malina and Chuck Close (all fellow artists) delved into Johnson’s life because there’s just so much to explain.

With training from a technical high school and Black Mountain College, as well as friendships with ‘50s New York art giants Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly, Johnson had vast opportunities in the worlds of both commercial and modern art. Instead, propelled by an interest in Zen, he turned to complex magazine cut-out collages and his infamous “mail art,” high-concept packages of artistic creations sent through the mail.

Shaken up by a traumatic 48-hour-period during which he was mugged at knifepoint, Warhol was shot by Valerie Solanas and Robert Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson moved to Long Island and lived in seclusion there for more than 20 years. He was found dead floating in a cave off the New York shores in 1995, an apparent suicide. Don’t worry, we didn’t ruin anything for you with this mini-bio. It’s the analysis and speculation that makes How to Draw a Bunny great. 8:30 p.m. Domy Books, 1709 Westheimer. For information, call 713-523-3669 or visit Free.
Fri., Aug. 15, 8:30 p.m., 2008

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Nick Keppler