The Road to Damascus 

I just needed to draw today. I have several projects going on , some concepts I need to move forward with for upcoming shows but that all said , just wanted to draw , for drawings sake .

 So I did, not the most disciplined of actions perhaps …

I ignored a big looming unfinished painting which is at that stage of “will I ever finish ??”; ignored other works half begun ; ignored projects germinating . 

I drew.

 And this drawing , my interpretation of that moment on the road to Damascus is the result. Not the greatest of accomplishments perhaps but I feel more at ease. 

It was wonderful to have new thoughts and to just let the pencil move where it wanted to . Mentally , drawing is so clarifying. Particularly welcome as my studio is a happy jumble at the moment. Actually it’s always a jumble , which is how I like it.

Tomorrow I will begin anew on “Goblin Market “. But for the moment calling it a night , pleased I listened to that inner voice . 


Mother of the Moon

Given that today is the Lunar New Year ( Year of the Rooster) and after this week of blustering male bravado coming out of the White House , I decided a bit of feminine rebirth was in order.

My relief print from 2015 , a limited edition of six , is available at a reduced price of $75.00 including domestic shipping . There are four left , if interested please contact me at neobaroque@mac.com

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Mother of the Moon

Upcoming Open Studio

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Open Studio,  I’m part of the Arroyo Arts Collective’s 24th Discovery Tour. Northeast LA is a hotbed of artists,makers and oddballs: I’m happy to be part of this community and this year’s studio tour.

Visit me, drink my cheap hooch, say hello to the pups and pretend to like my paintings!

Sunday November 20th, 9:30 until 5:00 @ 1053 Colorado Blvd., unit H, second floor, LA 90041.

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My Wunderkammer

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My Wunderkammer

My life, my art, my burning passions, all will, at some time be dust. This eternal truth faces us all and the shadow I leave behind may very well be a creaky antique cupboard crammed to bursting with a treasure trove of misfit bric-a-brac, ephemera and bibelots. Treasures (and trash) gleaned since boyhood, initially stuffed into pockets and cigar boxes, then into aching drawers, now find a home in the fanciful fretwork of a fusty Chinese Export armoire. The musty, the dusty, the cracked and the flawed, the unwanted and the unloved, all are welcome and treasured in this little kingdom .

As a boy I was enamored with Hans Christian Andersen’s The Shepherdess and the (Chimney) Sweep. Anderson fashioned an imaginary world within a fancifully carved cupboard, perhaps not unlike my own (although from the description of rutting satyrs it sounds decidedly Renaissance), his world is one in which bobble-headed Chinamen ( when one could still use such words) were once lovers with pot-pourri pots and now broken hearted he fancies the pretty little porcelain Shepherdess who fear the dark of his lair as Persephone feared Hades’. This world of wonder enchanted me completely and has never left; I have spent my life trying to recreate this magic, a world in which the seemingly inanimate and the trivial have a story and a soul. This desire is expressed within my work where the silent speak and the forgotten are honored. It is also expressed in concrete way, for the theater of Anderson’s folk tale is found within a Wunderkammer of my very own, perhaps my greatest joy.

This is a personal reliquary, where marionettes unstrung and bobble- headed Maya gods keep company with gnarled chicken feet and azurite Egyptian deities, where soldiers of lead still emit the foul stench of death and plaster Virgens are eager to heal (even if they too are as broken as we sinners). This worthless collection will be my legacy and when I am dust and no longer able to defend my misfits, what will be their fate ? Will they like Anderson’s young lovers crash and fall? Will my joys be left curbside ? Once again unloved, unattended to, fluttering to an indifferent wind, in a world enamored with all that is digital but not at all moved by the aching  tangible .

Or will they like the Shepherdess and her blackened Sweep be riveted together, treasured and facing a strange yet hopeful eternity. My desire  is some book-besotted boy or girl, quiet and inward, will catch the sparkle of some bit of fin de siecle frippery and surreptitiously pluck a few treasures into an open pocket, thus continuing the story, my story, their story, our story.

To read Anderson’s story follow this link:

http://hca.gilead.org.il/shepherd.html

Leonard Greco | Allegories, Archetypes and Art History

In a nutshell…

ART AND CAKE

Andromedus Andromedus

My love of mythic narrative, particularly narratives that focus upon universal themes of creation, sacrifice, redemption and enlightenment (gnosis), inspires my work. Although indebted to the western canon and frequently finding inspiration within the richness of its traditions, I have fallen under the spell of the Popol Vuh, the creation myth of the Maya people. Utilizing this ancient body of work I am able to explore universal themes without the influence of recognizable western archetypes.

Through exploration I may examine a culture, that though foreign from my western perspective, provides endless fascination and possibility. This fascination with Meso-american art and culture however is not translated in a mock-Latino idiom. Given my western heritage I would consider that not only disrespectful but inauthentic. Inspired by the words of José Clemente Orozco I resist “looting indigenous remains…however picturesque and interesting they may be”. Instead of drawing upon the obvious source, I instead…

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Daddy Issues

Tomorrow is Father’s Day , and if Mother’s Day causes me to feel ambivalent and mournful , Fathers Day enrages me.
My father was a petty and wantonly cruel man , frustrated with his situation he expressed his rage in violent outbursts directed at his terrified brood. My mother perversely would boast her husband didn’t beat women but boy he knew how to beat children.

His punishments were decidedly corporeal , unpredictable and communal , in so much if one of my six siblings aroused his displeasure , we were all summoned to drop our drawers , and await the blows from a studded belt purchased specifically for his “justice”. From teen to toddler we took it , silently , I believe silently out of pride . My mother , deep in her own madness , stood silent as well, a mute specter .

Surprisingly , my being the eldest, I somehow escaped the brunt of his wrath. My father like many macho Latin men could smell a faggot a mile away and he instinctively recoiled from my presence . He beat the shit out of me , particularly if I betrayed a fey gesture , but his concentrated brutality was upon my far younger and far sweeter siblings .

One such incident was deeply profound and it severed figuratively and literally my relationship with my father. My baby sister Kat, left to my care after my mother’s illness left her unable to attend to her needs , was participles adorable and particularly precocious . I adored her sparkle .

My father found it aggravating .

 She was just a toddler , acting out , impotently I tried to hush her , frustrated , my father rushed from the kitchen table and just slammed her full force into the wall . Her little head hitting the unforgiving surface with a heartbreaking  sound . Without thinking I rushed to the utility drawer and pulled a pitiful and most likely , dull , paring knife. I went after my father , and in romantic reflection I want to believe I stabbed him, but what I do know is , in a bit of Fruedian genius my father pulled out his far larger hunting knife , effectively ending the fight . My mother , the ever present yet silent ghost , witnessed my mortified retreat .

Hence today’s painting from 2015,”The Castration of Uranus”. According to classical tradition , the Earth Mother Gaia provides her son, the Titan Cronus with a “great stone sickle” with which he castrates his brutish , sibling devouring father. Alas my mother provided me with no sickle and I lacked the ability to smite my father.

Soon after I was on my own, I haven’t spoken to the hateful man in well over thirty years . I’ve heard, like old Nazis , he has mellowed , but I harbor memories of his unjust power . 

Often, like my depiction of Uranus,  my father held court , in his briefs , legs apart, for like many of his Italian American friends he was unabashedly proud of his endowment . That he chose to flaunt his “family jewels” ( as he called them ) in front of his children befuddles me to this day. But I was taken aback when revisiting this painting that I had expertly captured that haughty pose , granted now deflated .

So if I hadn’t the power to vanquish my father with a paring knife , I have the power with my brush . My father’s greatest gift to me is empathy , I cannot bear brutish cruelty towards those unable to defend  themselves.  My passion for the rights of animals stems from past lived experience . For that I’m grateful .

Happy Father’s Day ( seriously ).