Remy Charlip revisiting trees that years earlier inspired his  Garden Lilac  dance.  Robertson Blvd., Santa Monica, California.  Photo: Kevin Gralewski (used by permission).

Remy Charlip revisiting trees that years earlier inspired his Garden Lilac dance.  Robertson Blvd., Santa Monica, California.  Photo: Kevin Gralewski (used by permission).

 Remy Charlip in his home studio. Photo: J. Lazar

Remy Charlip in his home studio. Photo: J. Lazar

by Julie Lazar

Remy Charlip mastered how to turn poison into medicine.  He infused his art with imagination and the power of healing (Before Me Peaceful) drawn from his life or learned from friends, lovers, fellow artists and teachers.  He danced around the living room to offset boyhood pain, and cheered himself by envisioning a cross-legged horse in a lump of clay then making it. He turned household objects, discarded papers and boxes into costumes and theater sets (Paper Bag Players), and turned illness into stories for pictures books he wrote and painted (Mother Mother I Feel Sick Send for the Doctor Quick Quick Quick).  If lonely, he’d hold himself (Meditation); if bored, he’d dance in a bed, with a towel, in a doorway or on stairs (Household Dances); or play (Dress Up and Let’s Have a Party, Arm In Arm, Peanut Birthday Party).  Remy learned to sing and to sign, and demonstrated how to communicate without making sounds (National Theater for the Deaf, Handtalk), or to see without using our eyes (The Seeing Stick). Remy loved to be touched (Ten Men, Ten Imaginary Dances) and encouraged us to caress one another (I Love You, Sleepytime Rhyme) and enjoy life (Hooray for Me, A Perfect Day). When a stroke impeded him from making art, he dug deep and created one last dance…for the eyes. He was a national treasure. Seth Eisen’s Rainbow Logic: Arm in Arm with Remy Charlip captures the richness of spirit that emanates throughout the art of Charlip’s life.

Experience an animated version of Remy Charlip's Sleepytime Rhyme, music by Lou Harrison, presented by the queer cultural center.

Julie Lazar is a curator who collaborated with Remy Charlip on many new projects including, Amaterasu for The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Remy Charlip’s Ten Imaginary for MoCA’s Territory of Art radio series; Harlequin: A Movie Proposal exhibition for Barnsdall Art Park’s Junior Art Gallery, as well as on a commissioned drawing for LA Eyeworks, among others.  She organized A Perfect Day at Montalvo Arts Center celebrating Charlip’s life with dance, workshops, hikes, storytelling, food and an artist’s book signing.