Jack Greene explores life, art on Martha’s Vineyard

Jack Greene has led a lofty life as an artist. The Guilford, Connecticut native is a self-described explorer in life and art.

Mr. Greene is hosting an Open Studio viewing of recent work at 46 Spring Hill Rd. in Vineyard Haven on August 25 and 26, between noon and 6 pm. An artist’s reception is set for Saturday, Aug. 25, from 4 to 6 pm. Displayed work will include multi-brush paintings, and startling, energetic polychrome and sculpted wall reliefs.

The artist’s urge to see what’s over the next hill has transformed him from classically trained representational artist at The Boston Museum School in the early 1960s to multiple phases of abstract work over five decades. The scope of his work is broad enough to allow his wife, Marianne, to organize and catalog his work by period.

Last week, in a well-used studio adjacent to his home, Mr. Greene talked about about the symbiosis of his life and art. It is a process of immersion, as he explains it.

“My father, Kenneth Edward Greene, was an artist in New York. The first time I smelled the oil paints in his studio – I was probably seven or eight – I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.

His late brother, James Spenser Greene, was also an artist, and his sister-in-law, Patricia Carlet, is an Island artist and prime mover in the restoration of the Tisbury waterworks building into an exhibit and performing space.

Mr. Greene is direct and open. He appears equally grateful and besotted with his muse, congenitally aesthetic and pragmatic, using materials and forms of his own design to create art, perhaps as an extension of some early painting experience.

His most public work was likely viewed by millions in San Francisco, where decades ago, as a municipal painter, he covered the transmission towers atop Twin Peaks, about 1,800 feet above street level. “That didn’t last long when Marianne found out out how high I was working,” he said. Closer to earth – and fine art – Mr. Greene was the conceptual designer for a five-block-long fence mural commissioned in 1982 by the City of Oakland, Calif.

His work has been viewed in gallery and museum shows on both coasts and in South America over the last 50 years, including at Featherstone Gallery in Oak Bluffs, where he has taught airbrush technique.

The art on display this weekend represents more than 15 years of work as he moved away from two-dimensional painting toward making polychrome wall reliefs, he writes in a description of his work.

“In painting and sculpture, my focus has always been on the process of depicting spatial relationships in layers or multi-dimensions. The images that I use are a combination of the geometric, the real, and the abstract, taken both from the natural world and from synthetic objects proliferated by 20th century technology and industrial waste.

Fabrication of the wall pieces is labor-intensive, involving many processes, including modeling in clay, mold-making and casting in acrylic non-toxic polymer and painting,” he writes, noting that as he began working wall reliefs, ” I felt I was a foolish, extravagant spirit, full of forms, figures, shapes, objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions, revolution. And I was thankful for it.”

For more information or directions, email jackrgreene@gmail.com.