Geoff Greene, USA
The first time I remember making visual art was in church; bored to tears by a lengthy sermon, seven year old me stole a pencil from the pew in front (quite a misdemeanor as those stubby pencils were used to make out promissory pledges when the collection plate was passed) and proceeded to copy the stained glass panels and holy inscriptions (“Come Unto Me All Ye That Labor, etc”) which adorned the walls.
I guess I was what you’d call a rebellious teen. Around the time I discovered girls my schoolwork began to tank. My childhood pals tell me I “became a hood” in junior high, which I don’t remember, but I certainly did adopt a new set of friends, which corresponded with my second - and much more powerful - impulse toward art.
One of these new friends could draw a perfect motorcycle; just pick up a pencil and with a few precise strokes make an ideal “hog” appear on the page, ape-hanger bars, dual throne seat, rear-sweeping, high-flying pipes. It was always the same, always exactly perfect. You could almost hear the damn thing roar. This excited something akin to envy in me and I tried and tried to copy his drawing, but my drawing never came out anywhere near as clean and after a while mine didn’t even come out a motorcycle but morphed into a horse or a giant bird shooting flames from its mouth or a naked lady. Yet one day, looking over my failures, it occurred to me that I was actually not failing but in my flopping around was doing something else, something much more interesting. I didn’t want to copy his motorcycle. Always the same, always perfect… is not what art is. I struggled very hard to understand what I was thinking: my friend’s perfect bike was cool but it was finite, finished, somehow closed and like, hermetically sealed. It came out the same every time - it would never get lost or explore, could never grow into anything else or sneak in through the backdoor of your head, as I realized my drawings - flabby and imperfect as they were - had the power to do. A simple thought, but one which to this day has stuck with me.
At age nineteen I went to study with the noted regionalist Ancel E. Nunn, living with his family for a year in the small town of Palestine, Texas. I then attended the Arts Student's League and the New School in New York city, but it was only after a decade of 'regular' jobs and a move to Europe that I was able to begin my career as a working artist. My first solo show took place on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza. I lived in Europe for several years after that and showed widely there, including group and solo exhibits in Germany, France, Japan and my beloved Spain.
I worked steadily after returning to New York, but never felt completely in my element artistically. I was invited to join the elite Hudson River Sculpture Center in Manhattan and at their behest I made an extended trip to Brazil, living and working for nearly a year in the northeastern state of Ceara. In the capital of Fortaleza, I worked as part of a team which successfully instituted a city-wide school arts program, assisting, educating and supplying materials for budding young artists and encouraging and emphasizing the powerful folk art traditions of the region. During this period, I also discovered the joys of "voo livre" (hang gliding) and returned later to learn the sport.
I recently moved to the California Wine Country where we finally found the perfect house. We make regular visits to my wife Annie's home country of China. I am currently at work on a new series of paintings which will be available in the near future.