Visual art news, views and reviews in Dallas, Texas, USA
An Interview with Jeff Green at Art House on Routh and in his downtown studio
Story + Photographs by JR Compton
all work © 2003 by Jeff Green
I wanted to interview Jeff Green, because his art usually baffles me and because he said he was going through a personally difficult period, and he was working it out in his art — which is what are all artists are supposed to be doing with whatever medium we use.
I met him at Art House gallery (since defuncted), and Jeff and I trailed through his show of very recent work. We'd settle on one piece at a time. I'd photograph it, then start writing his words down in a spiral notebook.
(The next week I bought a portable tape recorder.)
Jeff spoke quietly but slowly. I'd let him know when I'd caught up, and intersperse questions as they arose. I usually did not have to prompt him. Jeff was eager to talk about this very personal show.
In the interview below, the interviewer's words are in bold gray like this, and Jeff's words are in solid black like this.
The Gash (above) is almost a take off of Victorian dress.
I wanted to create a structure that was feminine but still use the materials I wanted to use.
The piece was intended more to be feminine than an individual.
I got the materials and started several pieces at once and just started creating feminine shapes.
I wanted to do more personal work for my next show. Usually I just make stuff — animals or goofy creatures or something. Generally, I just go for something I thought was funny.
I'm going through a period of separation from my wife, and I wanted to do a show thanking the women who had been influential to me.
I wanted to do something that worked out my feelings about that.
I've always had far more female friends than male friends.
Test tube holder metal
It's kinda violent, because her head's ripped off, and only the jaw bone is left.
I was going to do that with more pieces, but it didn't work out, although it showed up in a lot of my sketches.
I mostly sketch my work half way through. I do a few sketches as I go, just to see the composition.
I had no intention to use the autoharp as a wall piece like this, but it just worked out.
None of them has heads.
I wanted something there. I liked putting something there that somebody might not know they could do something with.
I think it lets people make up their own. It's more universal. It lets them have more personality.
If I put heads on them, the facial expressions would have been the focal point.
It's the attitude. She won't take no guff. Kinda uppity and cantankerous.
Just one of my friends.
Actually, it is kind of a stretch to figure out who this piece is.
It's called Final Message.
But I wish I'd called it just "message."
I don't want to demean this person in my mind. But she is more fragile than the rest of the women in this show — but fragile in a good way, more feminine. It's more... not masculine... but more independent.
The works are delicate. Probably 60 years old...
Yeah, that's a fragile piece
That says something about the person, too. Strength combined with fragility.
A very, very close friend who has kinda come back into my life several times.
A long distance friend. Most of our recent friendship has been over the phone.
It's just a good word for her. She's been a real safety net for me.
The writing is purposely too messy.
All of my paintings have lots of writing that's too personal, but I try to write too small or backwards.
I made these wings for another project, but I was really pleased when they fit so well — color and everything.
You can actually dial the dial.
He called Founder "Another close friend of mine."
Jeff said Founder was about a friendship that has gone through a lot of changes. I've known her for a long time.
To me this piece looks very mobile. In some ways it's more fun than any of the others.
[She] can be wielded around, he said, wielding the torso from the far corner to a place easier to photograph it.
It's probably the most realistic one in the show. It's loser to a portrait.
I don't know
Because it was the only bird in my studio.
She's just very grounded, stable. She's my savior.
I'd done another record piece before and liked how they melted onto each other.
She's the lynchpin of all this. She's been my main personal support this last year.
Figuratively, she's the most important piece in the show.
That's my mom.
That's her. Because of its size and the way it's standing.
The whole servant/hostess thing is her. She was born to serve others without reservation. Completely selfless...
all found pieces — record holders, magazine holders, glass holders, serving platters...
I just attached things together. They are all ready made and some sort of serving tray or receptacle.
Ten years ago, she had to develop her own pursuits. So that's why it all looks empty.
My paintings are just all female forms. But the paintings don't represent any one person in particular.
I've also been doing stop-motion animation, but I haven't shown it to anybody yet.
All the fish are lamps or lights.
It was not something I was conscious of till people pointed it out, I tend to focus on hands because [his] dad had rheumatoid arthritis
We always had a huge closet filled with stuff like that.