“Welcome to the hallway,” Mikey Rae offers me polite salutations. It’s essentially his hallway. His doodles, or the Legit Concerns brand doodles, live on the walls of the hallway adjacent to the front desk of House of Eternal Return. He specializes in a particular genre of doodling where each line drawing is accompanied by a profound ask of its viewer. In the hallway, the poodle says to the reader, “Maybe It’s Maybelline. Or Maybe It’s The Unending Pain Of Existence.”
The “Dracula Practice” portion of the wall was inspired by the basketball scene from Teen Wolf. Mikey offered no further accounting of his thought process that brought him from Michael J. Fox as a werewolf to Dracula, but he didn’t need to. He writes, “Being a teenage Dracula, learning the fundamentals of basketball is a metaphor for hard work, experiential learning, and growth through shared successes and shared failures.” Mikey studies the world around him, and while he projects his findings with quirky drawings of dogs or vampires — his subject matter is purely philosophical.
Mikey is both teacher and student of philosophy. Being a student of philosophy is not easy. Being able to wrap your mind around the complexities of the human psyche and where it fits in the universe is not an easy task. Reading thousands upon thousands of theses regarding such heavy (and oftentimes outdated and overrated) subjects is exhausting. I should know. I have a philosophy degree.
Mikey offers philosophy in small doses. His new book, I Want to Write a Poem That Will Inspire the World, offers bite-size nuggets of philosophical thoughts sans jargon. A hammerhead shark muses, “But how often does digression ultimately furnish answers?” To which a doe with red ears replies, “Great point. The solution to a problem cannot be coerced; it doesn’t come in the desperate hours of endless work. It comes when you pause to walk in the woods.”
“It comes when you pause to walk in the woods.”
Answers come from contemplation, from spending time alone with your thoughts; answers come from within. He encourages the collective “us” to take on subjects like pain and suffering, love and loss, self-doubt and self-discovery, inspiration and desperation — all rhetorical or figurative — and ask ourselves where these subjects fit in our lives – rather than offering answers.
An excerpt from Mikey’s book charges the contemplative nature of his asks with a drawing of a spotted walrus and the simple question, “Are thoughts necessarily language based? You wonder (in language).” The simplicity of his doodles and drawings underscore the complexity of the subject matter with which they coexist.
I ask him to show me his favorite drawing in the hallway, and as he does, we pause at a drawing of two gorilla faces looking at each other. They don’t have any writing next to them, so we imitate what they might be saying. “Have you got a recipe for baked beans?” one says to another in an Australian accent. Mikey gets down on his knees and starts writing our back and forth on the wall.
He asks me what three movies I would have on a desert island. He doesn’t ask because he wants to tell me what his are, which is sometimes the case. He asks because he has a curiosity for people, for life, and especially for human connection and what that means outside of interactions with his art. Dracula Practice only emphasizes his deep rooted attraction to “growth through shared successes and shared failures.” We shared a success — we created an exchange to accompany two gorilla faces.
Mikey Rae’s book, as well as other Legit Concerns gear, is available in the Meow Wolf Santa Fe shop and online at legitconcerns.com. Check out more of his work on Instagram, @legitconcerns. My view of Mikey is simply that, mine. To get his take on art, life, and love, watch this mini-documentary below.