Memories of a Splendid Evening

Last evening’s reception for Embodied:St.Anthony & the Desert of Tears was gratifying in many ways . Most especially in the support shown by my wonderful friends and fellow artists . The art community in LA is a generous one , I am exceedingly grateful for that .

But also in where this residency has brought me , I feel as if I am on a landing , creatively speaking , and about to ascend with a stronger conviction and more focused intention.

I thank Kristine Schomaker and her ShoeboxProjects, which offered this residency to me . I also thank Kristine for these marvelous images . Amidst the hubbub I didn’t take one image . So again, thanks Kristine!

With that said , let the mayhem be fondly remembered.

I love this image of Kristine, really working my hat .

My friend , the excellent photographer Stephen Levey took these images , I particularly like the one with my talented friend Bibi Davidson and our demonic love child .

Our wonderful friend Jodi Bonassi , another great artist , was working the hat as well !

Always lovely to see my friend Randi

And miraculously , our dear Malka Nevidi , yet another amazing artist, arrived near closing . Thank goodness. But all good things must end , we’ve packed it all away , down to the crisp white walls , ready for new inspiration. Filled with much gratitude… and now, a head cold .

“Embodied”, my intention and some kind words

In the final week of my residency I’m quite literally tying up loose threads ; I’m also trying to gather my thoughts, my feelings and clarify my intentions.

The following is the result :

 

EMBODIED: ST. ANTHONY & THE DESERT OF TEARS

Leonard Greco

Shoebox Projects – Artist in Residence

 

Embodied:St.Anthony & the Desert Tears, my latest (ongoing) body of work, is inspired most significantly by Gustave Flaubert’s “The Temptation of St. Anthony” (1874). The richness of detail and illusion that Flaubert evokes almost suffocates the reader in its voluptuous beauty. Flaubert himself was inspired in great part by Brueghel’s own phantasmagoric depiction of the tormented hermit. I wish in some way to allude to that dizzying yet exhilarating experience.

As a young boy Flaubert witnessed a marionette performance of “The Mystery of St. Anthony”.  From that point on, “St. Anthony accompanied Flaubert for twenty-five or thirty years”, as the philosopher Michel Foucault has written. Flaubert returned to the anchorite time and again until completing the work in 1872.   This is not an easy read, dense, at times over-ripe, seemingly more chant than prose; Foucault describes the work as an “overcrowded bestiary” with “creatures of unnatural issue.”

It is this “overcrowded bestiary” I wish to evoke with the still evolving Embodied, wishing to populate the tableaux with a parade of bewildering, complex “creatures of unnatural issue”. These hybrid embodied beings represent not simply base impulses but our own deep struggle to live a fully expressed life.   For when I tackle such fraught topics as sin, temptation and redemption, I am looking beyond the typical biblically inspired admonition (such as Lust or the other Seven Deadlies). I am more interested in the quotidian, seemingly insignificant distractions that prevent us from embodying our truest selves. In essence, what interferes with your being authentic?  What is your demon? Who, what shadows your path?

I’m particularly interested in exploring how the tools of modernity – social media, the self-commodifaction through “branding” oneself, the pursuit of relevancy— all hinder full true self-expression, perhaps even censoring it or rendering it mute. Foucault describes Anthony’s temptations as “…false gods resembling the true God….” I argue that false gods lurk in the inky alleyways of a frenetic and rapacious contemporary society.

The mystic Thomas Merton in discussing the Desert Fathers insists, “they did not reject society with proud contempt, as if they were superior to other men”, but instead were seeking the fullest expression of their purpose. Throughout our lives we are given signs which point us (or call us) in the direction of our authentic purpose, so as Merton reminds us: “…whatever you see your soul to desire according to God, do that thing, and you shall keep your heart safe”.

I will do that “thing”, clumsily, distractingly, awkwardly, but like Anthony, sincerely and with purpose.

 In addition to my own words I was flattered by this generous review of my work by the art and culture writer Genie Davis . It certainly warms my heart .

Thank you Genie, Art and Cake and ShoeboxProjects.

https://artandcakela.com/2018/01/07/leonard-grecos-embodied-st-anthony-the-desert-of-tears-at-shoebox-projects/

 

 

Fonts, Themes & Filters!

I think I’ve developed quite an addiction to the myriad filters , texts and aesthetic options available on apps such as Phonto. As I try to promote my residency work and its reception next Saturday at ShoeboxProjects, I find myself distracted by the plethora of options .

Here is a sampling:

If you are in LA please try to attend , the location is in The Brewery at 660 S. Ave.21, unit 3, 90031.

If you can’t make that day , give a holler , I’ll be installing all next week and will be delighted to meet you there .

Wish me luck !

Desert Epistles, 1st of January 2018

New year, new motivation. Today David and I spent the day hanging work for my installation piece Embodied: St. Anthony & the Desert of Tears . In addition to his unflinching support I was particularly grateful for the second pair of hands and eyes . I will continue to be more dutiful in documenting Embodied.

The following images were taken this afternoon.

My little Fiat is quite the workhorse.

The final unveiling is Saturday January 13th, 2018, 3-6 at Shoebox Projects ( in the heart of the Brewery), 660 South Ave. 21, Los Angeles, 90031.

I would love to see you there !

Stitching Towards Abstraction

I find it nearly impossible to engage in the abstract , my vocabulary is perhaps too concrete . In a brief attempt at schooling I was assigned a project in which I was to refrain from representation. I failed miserably .

I see figures everywhere , in water beading upon the shower door, cracks on a wall and in the drifting sand . It’s impossible for me to not embody.

Yet with stitching I find the randomness of my clumsy stitch work ( I am an inept seamstress, the “brut” quality is not an aesthetic affectation) reveals accidental non representational compositions. The compositions create themselves , I merely accompany them , needle in hand .

Of interest at the moment is mining the accidental compositions found upon my studio floor when working with needle . Fashioning my Stuffed Paintings is messy work , gravity and chance creates repeated patterns that I as a designer would be unable to imagine . I find them particularly poetic. I snatch them up and appliqué them upon whatever figure I am working upon .

There is something deeply gratifying in celebrating the discarded . As a queer man making work that is frequently as queer and having frequently felt disposable myself , elevating the overlooked is gently satisfying. This might very well be the overindulgent musing of an artist at work , but they are my musings . I leave them here , wishing all a tender holiday season .

The Objects We Carry

I recently had the good fortune to purchase a memento from my distant past , a drawing of a living room long since shuttered . My dear friend Marge Miccio is a talented artist working primarily in pastels . One of her great gifts is interior portraiture . Generally without human figures ( in my case my dear pup Gizmo can be seen perched on a cushion as was his want ) but her unpopulated rooms speak volumes . I’m delighted that Marge discovered this drawing made back in 1994 . She calls it “The Plaid Sofa”.

I call it wonderful.

To get a sense of her keen eye , here is a photo taken before I left the house, Trenton ,the city I had called home, in fact, my previous life . A new chapter was to unfold but Marge preserved a memory .
I purchased this little rowhouse when I was so very young , flush with new romance for my first love Douglas . We pooled are resources and bought the house for $5000.00!
It was a romantic shambles , but through the years it became home . We purchased other houses  , but when the love we had could no longer sustain us , this little gem became my own .

It wasn’t to last. I was to move forward , a move to Philadelphia where I would meet David and embark upon this adventure I now find myself .

But then , in 1994, months before I packed it all away , this was home. Happiness is having a lovely framed reflection of a life passed.

Now, with the drawing freshly hung in my newly painted apple green living room, my pug Viola occupies the same corner of a different sofa , as her predecessor Gizmo.

Some things do not change .

 Another thing that hadn’t changed is my love of gardening, these rather poor quality images , were taken late summer 1994.
And now another garden beckons …