I’ve known Eric for a fairly short time now, we met via the fabric of social media a couple of years ago and have been exploring the things we have in common as well as those that are unique to each of us. The following interview was originally intended for a different blog altogether, but I am pleased that Eric asked me if I would pick up where the session left off and publish this.
Let’s begin with Eric’s own words, which can be perceived as spare or concise, but are always brutally honest:
EG: Since the age of eleven I’ve written, drawn or painted almost every day. That’s 48 years of work. For my Time Diptych series I drew for 19 months without a single day off. This was needed at the time but turned into a huge mistake in terms of health.
JN:Who are you and what do you do?
EG: I draw, paint, write novels, short stories, and columns.
JN: I’ve enjoyed reading your works, you have a gift of turning the settings of your stories and poetry into richly illustrated art forms. It feels like there is not much distance between your visual art and your literary art. Why do you do what you do?
EG: I suppose I was compelled because of being overwhelmed by the poetry of being alive. I wanted to show others what I felt and saw.
JN: How do you work?
EG: In a room. Whatever apartment or house I’ve lived in, I simply choose a room and begin working. I’ve never had a studio. Artists with fancy studios just seem pompous, and they usually are.
JN: I am super thrilled to have recently completed a dedicated studio space, but could not agree more that making art happens wherever the artist is. Do you feel that your art reflects your personality?
EG: I sure hope so. My work is, of course, primarily about my relationship to God. Real art, as opposed to decorative or commemorative art, is usually about the distance between the artist and God.
JN: Has your practice changed?
EG: Why would it change? I’ve resisted caving into money or art world opinion as too many artists usually do.
JN: That pressure, to accept feedback intentional or subliminal and be driven by it is very real for most of us isn’t it? Keeping your personal values intact is critical. What are some of the most inspiring things happening at present?
EG: I’m working on a new series that should be more powerful and engaging than my Time Diptychs or my Mirrored Rooms. What would be the point otherwise? Most artists make the same painting over and over and over. I would be too bored to do that.
Time Diptych: Bridge, 2014, Grisaille, varnish and colored pencil on board, 16 x 25 inches, 40.6 x 63.5 cm, including 1″ in between, Arkansas Arts Center Permanent Collection
JN: I loved being able to see your latest show at Ameringer, McEnery, Yohe (A/M/Y) in New York City this past year and those color pencil drawings. They are spectacular. I look forward to seeing what you intent to be more impactful! What is the artist’s role within their community?
EG: To lead the culture spiritually. To show that poetic aesthetics is much more important than anything else once you have food, shelter, warmth, and reasonable safety. This creates the quality of life, not more stuff.
JN: What art do you most identify with?
EG: Art that changes my life and perception of reality (or our reality of agreement).
JN: What’s the last art object that you purchased?
EG: Two Rod Penner paintings from A/M/Y in New York. Parents want their children to be creative, but ask the parents how much money they have spent on art. Something wrong there! I’ve spent a considerable amount (considerable considering my poverty over most of my life), let’s say well over 50k on the work of living artists. If you buy dead artists, you’re only helping yourself. Think about it!
Falling Match III, 2000, graphite on paper, 14″ x 11″, Private collection
JN: Indeed, getting a gem from an artist friend is one of the most special experiences, to have that connection, to talk to each other… though I have a few works from before I was born that mean a lot to me as well. What work do you most enjoy?
EG: Solving problems. And I find mowing the lawn or stacking cord wood nice because I don’t have to think. Thinking is exhausting. I also love writing novels—a true delight.
JN: Do you have any creative habits or rituals?
EG: Get up early (dawn) and begin working. Once the world intrudes, you’re screwed. I spend the afternoons drinking beer. Without clean fresh beer I could never do what I do.
JN: What themes and symbolism do you employ?
EG: God is nature. Nature forms most of our aesthetics so I spend a lot of time looking at it, studying it. Beer goes good with this process of observing.
JN: What was the last show that you saw and how did you like it?
EG: It was a local show and so boring and clichéd I won’t comment.
JN: What is your favorite viewer response to your art?
EG: “Your work changed the way I see the world. It made me really notice the simple things around me. Thank you! Can I buy you a beer?”
JN: That is powerful stuff, I hope to hear it myself. Could you tell me about your most memorable response to a work of art?
EG: I usually laugh insanely, then I get chills, then I feel like crying. Antonio Lopez Garcia at the MFA in Boston did this to me. Of course, the teenager next to me said it all when he bellowed, “Holy fucking shite!” He knew!
JN: I can see how Antonio would have that impact. His precision, efforts to center himself and the work are so core to many of the elements I see in your work. What do you dislike about your art?
EG: If I disliked something I would fix it. I work until it clicks and I will work endlessly until it clicks, just like a terrier hangs on.
JN: Ah, yes… I enjoyed being an observer to your working and reworking a recent painting. You are just like that terrier. What do you think that future generations will recall about the art world today?
EG: Self indulgent, redundant, depressing, spiritless pap.
JN: I hope there is reflection and recollection of those among us who were truly creators of something special as artists. Where do you find ideas for your work?
EG: From God. If you don’t channel God in some way, you’re probably not making real art.
JN: Do you collect anything?
EG: Antique furniture and lamps, electric clocks, books, pool cues, shaving brushes, moments, model O-scale trains, 1/18 model race cars from the 1920s to 1961. They must have wooden steering wheels. I’m also having two 1955 356 Continental Carrera Porsches (full size!) built to my exact specifications. Look here: http://www.quantumrun356.com.
JN: The things you mention make appearances in many of your two dimensional works, but those miniature environments you create that have the trains integrated into them are fabulous sculptures as well. And the cars. We both hold a special place for the 356, but the cars you have specified are real stunners. I would love to be driving one of them that meets you in the geographical center of North America at speeds required of such machines. Do you have any grievances with the art world and how it operates?
EG: Very very few people in the art world have an eye for art. They simply have no understanding of what is good or bad. Ivan Karp commented on this constantly. He had the eye.
JN: What is your favorite city for seeing art?
EG: Amsterdam and Paris.
JN: What artist do you think is most undervalued?
EG: Most artists doing inline interviews will probably say themselves, but if I’m dead honest, without any false modesty, I would say myself as well, although that is changing rapidly. For instance, just today, A/M/Y sold a major piece to a wonderful regional museum. 45 years is a long time to starve in obscurity as other artists stole my ideas and made money. I wonder how many other modern artists would’ve stayed the course.
JN: Yes, many of us would indeed say that. I’ve said it myself. Congratulations on getting one of those works into the museum by the way, that must feel pretty great! How do you view creativity? What does “being creative” mean to you?
EG: Making contact with God. It’s an amazing feeling because it goes beyond the parameters we assume are rational.
JN: However defined, there is a space where the Physical and the Metaphysical are connected and it seems to me that creativity happens in that space. Have you always wanted to be an artist?
EG: I never wanted to be an artist. I dislike making art rather intensely although I believe in it, delight in it after. I always wanted to be a poet, but without any family money or connections, I realized that would never fly. Still, I did publish 5 books of poems.
JN: What do you wish to communicate with your art?
EG: God and the joys of living a poetic life.
JN: That sums it up! Thanks for your time and reflections Eric, I’ve enjoyed the journey of getting to know you to this point and anticipate continuing our dialog.
Links to Eric Green’s Art & Projects: