Welcome to another Artist Spotlight! This spotlight is extra special because the artist has a show opening NEXT THURSDAY at the Agora Gallery in Chelsea. Here is the press release and here is the Facebook invite--spread the word! (And if you're part of the Virginia Club of New York, we're having a tour Saturday, March 12 from 4-5pm with Gregg himself. Mark your calendars!)
Gregg Emery--teacher, artist, and generally amazing person--and I met because our easels were side by side at an open house at the National Academy on the upper east side (they have open houses throughout the year--if you're in the city, check it out!).
We've kept in touch and now he's on my blog: reason #476 why I love NYC. Gregg makes these fantastic abstracts that are terrific in photos but even more terrific in person (like at his show at Agora, ahem ;) ). Without further ado, I'll let him tell his own story...
Gregg Emery was born in Bombay, NY, a rural community outside Montreal filled with dairy farms and bordering the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation. In a town with few creative stimuli and even fewer traffic lights, Emery sketched at the earliest age wherever and whenever possible; his grandest dream was making it to New York City. An even farther thought was having numerous exhibitions of his work, with collectors from across the globe.
Gregg Emery received his Bachelor of Arts with departmental distinction from Hartwick College and a Masters in Fine Art from the Maryland Institute, College of Art, where he studied under Babe Shapiro, Power Boothe, Hermine Ford and Sal Scarpitta. He is currently the Chair of the Visual Arts and Art History department at the Trinity School in Manhattan, a private, coeducational K-12 school. Emery enjoys teaching art & art history, sharing his knowledge and experience with a younger generation. His artwork is included in numerous private and public collections including the permanent collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art. Gregg Emery is represented by the Agora Gallery in New York City.
The Spoonful: Describe your style in 5 words:
Gregg: dramatic, beautiful, athletic, powerful, meditative
The Spoonful: Art background?
Gregg: BA In Studio Art from Hartwick College, MFA from Maryland Institute, College of Art, Apprentice at the Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia, PA
The Spoonful: Whose work do you most admire?
Gregg: Tough question, I love so many artists for so many reasons… I think my family first and foremost, I have so many members of my family who are artists but claim they are not. My great-grandfather who carved amazing wood sculptures and wonderfully detailed drawings... my father, housebuilder turned math/ computer teacher, car mechanic and now keeps bees and repairs/ rebuilds antique clocks. My mother who plays organ/ piano and is a poet with her weekly local newspaper column. The hardwork coupled with humility is what I hope to take away or hope it is in my genes.
More traditional type artists? Hmmm, Caravaggio, huge fan… also Rembrandt, Rothko (his meditative paintings blow mine away)… contemporary I do enjoy Andy Goldsworthy & Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami and others. I also have drawn inspiration from many street artists… C215, Banksy, Os Gemeos just to name a few.
The Spoonful: Where do you find your inspiration?
Gregg: Inspiration for me comes from many places… The colors I choose actually come from things I see around me. Recent ones are from movies... from James Bond, Twilight, and even a recent set of pieces inspired by colors in the classic scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy reaches for the golden idol. The gold, Indy's brown jacket, and this shimmering blue light all make it into the painting. Color is so powerful, triggering memory, hunger, depression, exhilaration and everything in between… Movies are modern mythology, religion or meditation… to me, movie makers are the gods, the creators of worlds, akin to the masters of the Renaissance. I also take color inspiration from travels including a series based on a trip last year to Morocco, markets in Taiwan, even shells from Fire Island or a dessert from a fellow artist, pastry chef & muse. Although these colors may come from specific places, people or moments, I encourage them to trigger your own train of thoughts, and I do hope you enjoy these worlds I created as much as I did making them.
The Spoonful: Ideal workspace consists of...?
Gregg: Lots of space, lots of light, a projection screen (I like to have a movie playing (without sound) while I work), no interruptions. Mostly I work at night and I love when no one is around.
The Spoonful: Greatest piece of advice on being an artist (creating, surviving, anything) that you've received? That you can give?
Gregg: Best piece of advice? I've received much advice over the years. One from my parents, you can learn something from everyone so listen carefully and don’t judge a book by its cover, age, gender or anything else that might stand in the way of authentic communication. Draw everyday, drawing is key, it is the way we think, see the world and make sense of things. Learn from art history, dig deeply into the past to learn your place in the world and find your way into the future. From a student, never become a parody of yourself.
The Spoonful: Five things you can't live without?
Gregg: (hmmm OK Cupid?) alright, 1. Sketchbook 2. Passion 3. Water 4. Breath 5. Silence
The Spoonful: Where can we find your work?
Gregg: I am currently represented by the Agora Gallery, NYC in Chelsea. I have also shown with the Vogelsang Gallery of Belgium. You can find me on ArtSlant and collaborating with great people like the Shadow People Project and the NY Poetry Society. I also have a piece in the permanent collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art.
The Spoonful: Anything else we should know??
Gregg: You should really probably know at least one of the names of the members of the Ramones if you’re going to wear their T-shirt (that was the first live concert I heard.) Also you should know that my college roommate for 3 years was Lizardman, the guy tattooed from head to toe and I also find him incredibly inspiring as an artist. Sincere, intelligent, and who can challenge his commitment? Well, if you did he could eat you so I wouldn’t try it.
Gregg's show at the Agora will run until March 29. Go check it out--and let him know you heard about the show on The Spoonful!
Gregg is also working on a couple of new collaborations including one with a group of professional dancers, the Sydney Schiff Dance Project, whose costumes he painted--they'll be at his opening night, Thursday, March 10, wearing the costumes! He can also often be found at the Poetry Brothel, drawing the poets and those listening to them! Also check out his drawings and other sketchbook work on tumblr, instagram (@aplsd21), and twitter.
Thanks so much Gregg!!
If you know of an artist who'd like to be featured on The Spoonful's Artist Spotlight, let me know here!