Thursday, March 06, 2014

Everyday Apocalypse

"We are that strange species that constructs artifacts intended to counter the natural flow of forgetting."
William Gibson

J. Todd Greene isn’t going anywhere. This can be a frustrating realization for those of us who occasionally catch ourselves grieving his relative unfamousness as if he’s missed some boat, as if he should’ve devoted more time over the last twenty-plus years chasing opportunities and generating interest. But it seems to me there’s no shoulding on Todd (and let’s all stop shoulding on ourselves). What there is is the gathering of intelligence, the sharing of what we’re seeing, the documenting of our  own insights, what we believe we’re being shown. This is what I take to be the good work we’re all called to, and Todd’s dedication in this direction, all day long and into the night, has been a constant inspiration to me. More often than not, some line or image he’s crafted is glowing at the edge of my thinking, taking me somewhere new and strange. There’s the twenty-three or so Bulb albums he shares with anyone who asks. And there’s the painting. Oh the painting.
I’m so dependent on my conversations with Todd that I forget that what he’s been up to might be news to others. One entry point is the PawPaw sermons. The short version: His great-grandfather was a southern minister and colleague of the similarly comported and way famouser folk artist, Howard Finster. Whereas Finster abandoned the pulpit to paint Coke bottles and plywood displayed outside his bicycle repair shop, eventually landing in exhibits around the world and on REM and Talking Heads album covers, Todd’s great-grandfather kept at it in spite of the fact that he never learned to read properly. In his sermon preparation, he pencilled images on cards as his wife read biblical passages aloud. Standing in front of his congregation, he’d consult the cards within an open Bible as he brought the good words to the gathered. In the late nineties, Todd’s mother presented him with a shoebox full of the cards.
What Todd did and does with his grandfather’s images (Todd knew him as Paw Paw) is one of the most inspiring things I’ve had the privilege of being near. Adding color, dimension, and intensity of expression to his inheritance, it has to be seen live to be properly experienced, and alongside so much else, it will be beginning this Friday evening March 7th at O'More College of Art and Design in Franklin. Remarkably, this marks Todd's first exhibit outside of Davidson County. He'll be there responding to questions and being awesome all evening. Come. On. Out. 


Scott Miller, Ph.D. said...

we've had 2 todd greene works in our house the past 15 years. One is a paw paw that i still meditate on by times - a couple kneeling before a mirror with a snake. Thanks for sharing this.

erin said...

Todd is my favorite artist of all time. And not just because he is my friend. I wish I could see this show.