From the book Rivington School or Wat by Amr G. Shaker:
'Ray Kelly, also known as Cowboy Ray, is without a doubt the father figure of the Rivington School, as he is the one who started it all.
Having studied painting at the Art Student League of New York, and later working as an assistant to Mark Rothko, he knew a relatively successful beginning in the local art world. At this point however, he realized that painting was not the right expedient for him. Rather, he saw in it a source of loneliness and misery which often led to self-destruction. It is this enlightenment that eventually led him to give up his work. After Rothko’s death, he eventually returned to his home state of Texas where in his family’s tradition he took up farming.
For a few years, Cowboy Ray was able to enjoy the great outdoors, the constraints of “real life” and the beauty of handiwork. These new experiences, he says, made him question and reassess his code of values as well as his perceptions about formal education and modern lifestyles, both of which- according to him- left little or no room for individual freedom.
Whether it was a self set mission or the quest for experimenting a newly found ideology that drew Kelly back to New York in the early Eighties, remains an enigma. In fact, he often avoids the question with a cunning smile. Back in town, he made a few sculptures in order to “get the thing started”. And since then, he acted as a backbone, as a dean to the “school”, by supervising and synchronizing the various events that took place at No Se No and in the sculpture garden.
“There was no blueprint for the Rivington School or the sculpture garden” says Kelly. “Rather, they were left to grow and to establish themselves according to the laws of nature and randomness.” It is this modest standpoint towards his deed, that according to many, makes of Ray Kelly the ultimate Rivington School artist.'