The Sun Sets on Squishiepuss
Days before the opening of Squishieland, a would-be art gallery and event space by Atlanta-based artist Ray Geier, texts and tweets of abuse surface
You’ve probably seen the pink, octopus-like French bulldog creature painted on buildings all over town. You may even be a fan. But what if the creator of that cute squishy face turned out to be concealing an unexpectedly dark persona? That’s what folks are currently asking about Ray Geier, the artist also known as Squishiepuss, after extremely alarming sexual harassment allegations against him have surfaced.
Geier popped up in the Atlanta art scene around 2012 and quickly made a name for himself with his stylized cartoons of a French bulldog with an octopus body, a signature character that eventually gathered an enthusiastic following. On his website, Geier sold everything from enameled pins to skateboards to handpainted portraits — most featuring the bulldog’s memorable pink coat and pop eyes. Most recently, Geier planned to open a free art gallery and event space to be called Squishieland, set to open January 12.
Late Thursday evening, January 3, on Facebook, a flood of allegations poured in, many echoing this one from an Atlanta Facebook user: "After hearing from dozens of women that this Ray Fella thinks it's funny to joke about rape and aids [sic], be super abusive to women. Sleep on this artist, his gallery, his events. There are more talented artists in our city. I'm not one to jump on the call-out culture but you just don't have literally dozens of women come forward over the course of a few hours over misunderstandings. Ray, your behavior isn't acceptable.”
IT’S A SHAME ABOUT RAY: Images attributed to Squishiepuss.
The allegations, which go as far as alleged pedophilia, include screenshots of Geier’s revenge porn, targeting those who rejected him sexually. These disturbing screenshots were made public by Atlanta artist and alleged victim Aliya Smith, who, when asked why she felt it important to go public, forwarded Creative Loafing this statement.
“This has been whispered around Atlanta, especially though the art scene, and especially among women, for years,” says Smith, who claims she tried to warn people about her experiences with Geier over a year ago. “I’d had a couple of uncomfortable interactions with him by that point and he made sexual comments about photos of mine that made me deeply uncomfortable."
As it turned out, Smith's experience was tame in comparison with that of others who began to speak out.
“On NYE 2018, [Kayleen] Scott posted some screenshots from Geier’s old Twitter account, “rayspitsongirls,” to her Instagram story and texted them to me out of anger after finding them,” Smith’s statement continues. “We both decided it was time to stop whispering and start speaking, yelling. A few days later, I posted them to my IG story. I posted anonymous accounts I had received along with my own because I wanted [Geier] to stop harassing people. I didn’t know how deep it went. In just 24 hours I received hundreds of messages, about 40 or so of which were claims of [alleged] harassment, assault, revenge porn, as well as talk of underage girls. Then Kayleen and I thought about the gallery he was going to open and we got so scared about the vulnerable young women it could bring in. When Kayleen started warning people about this, it was purely out of protection. When we [posted the screenshots] this week, it was out of the same motive. The city shouldn’t support anything [given] the claims we’ve received. And it seems like the city agrees.
“We’ve of course received backlash from people who think this is a conspiracy or a trend of some sort," added Smith, "but the overwhelming support for victims has been amazing.”
Atlanta artist and Facet Gallery owner, Peter Ferrari, also posted concerns involving Geier, just days before Geier was set to open a new retail, event, and art gallery in Grant Park’s latest development, The Beacon Atlanta. When CL reached out to Ferrari regarding the timing of his posts, he confirmed Smith’s statement and added his own take on Geier’s place in Atlanta’s art community, particularly regarding Kayleen Scott, who is also Ferrari’s girlfriend.
“I’ve avoided and actively ignored Ray for several years now. He said really inappropriate things to my girlfriend (artist Kayleen Scott), so I knew he was a creep and possibly worse. It was something shared privately, but often ignored. A friend sent me his video regarding Squishieland. I was immediately skeptical, as it seemed tailor-made to give him access to impressionable artists looking to break into the scene. I made a post on my story about artists being skeptical of those claiming to “support the arts” while simultaneously creeping on young women. I did not name Ray in the post. Afterwards I was contacted by a woman who immediately knew who I was referring to. She told me about his old twitter handle, @rayspitsongirls [since deleted] and I Googled it. We saw all the tweets. My girlfriend was furious. It brought back years of anger and trauma that she had pushed down. She posted the tweets to her private Instagram and shared her experiences with Ray. Another woman asked if she could share on her public page and see if others had the same experience. Once she did, she was inundated with dozens of accounts from women alleging inappropriate behavior from Ray. From there, it took off, resulting in his outing as an [alleged] serial mistreater of women and girls in the arts community. The timing was not a coincidence. His opening/gallery brought back trauma and grief to the victims that could not be suppressed. There was a risk to our community that couldn’t be ignored any longer,” Ferrari concluded.
Regardless of who leaked the first tweet, the furor has leveled Geier’s standing and created a significant threat to his career. When contacted by Creative Loafing for a comment on Friday, January 4, Geier responded, "I'm still trying to figure out between ignoring it or making a video / podcast addressing it. so that nothing gets misconstrued. ... That's why I haven't commented, yet. I'm listening." While not getting back to CL directly, Geier finally took to social media Saturday morning [January 5], posting a video saying, “I’m ashamed and embarrassed.” More than 500 commenters reacted negatively, agreeing that the video was hardly a remorseful apology.
Within hours, the video and the artist’s social media presence was scrubbed from the internet. Businesses across Atlanta, such as Home Grown GA and Hodgepodge Coffeehouse, were quick to remove all traces of Squishiepuss art.
The Beacon Atlanta issued a statement saying they’ve ended their lease agreement with Geier and he will no longer be a tenant. Click here to read the full statement by The Beacon Atlanta.
Editor's note: This article has been edited since its original publication to more accurately report the story.