It’s just another weathered colonial as you approach a bend in the road at 35 mph. All these houses, all their yards, are the very canvas for so many of the tony suburbs south of Boston: Cape-lawn-cape-manicured lawn-wall of shingles-cape-driveway–fence-shrubs-shingles-cape-lawn… So it goes. It’s easy to leave it all in the muddle of your periphery while fiddling with your radio or waging war with your conscience about whether you should answer that vibrating text on the car seat next to you…
But as you begin to roll by, something buried in your primal awareness sees a flash. You’re yanked into consciousness, as if hit by a snowball. There’s an unexpectedly bright color. Something heavy and large is moving in concert with the breeze–improbable, metallic and incongruous amid the white pines. Instinctively, you ease off the gas to take it in. It wakes you.
A colleague once stated that the function of art is to raise questions. I believe the function of art is to give answers.
I try to appreciate art. I know what moves me and what I like. Sometimes, I feel smart enough to understand how unique someone’s art is; how authentic and honest an artist’s take on the world can be. I respect those who aren’t afraid to be controversial, even if I don’t always get it. And more props still to those who apply real-world skills to their work. Artisan meets art. George Greenamyer is all of these things.
I first met George when he was volunteering to help with the maintenance of Mayflower II. He would stop by the forge or our woodshop not so much to chat as to really see what we were up to. Always genuinely interested in our work, George asked many questions. He is a straight-shooter and curious of the world around him. His humor blindsides you, and his kindness and generosity make him a friend.
It is most important to me that there be a multi-level concept understandable to the non-art- trained person as well as the esoteric critic. It is my strong belief that public art should not be simply museum art in a public space.
Only later did I discover that George was a long-time professor of The Sculpture Department of The Massachusetts College of Art and Design; that he’d had numerous renowned public art commissions installed from Penn Station in NYC to a New Orleans zoo to a kinetic sculpture at an airport in North Carolina. Like his work, George has always seemed to be in motion.
I work in steel, which is vandal and weather resistant and designed to be easily assembled on site. The steel is machined, hot-forged and welded.
We visited George’s shop on a raw April day last year. For a while, he’s been giving his time to friends teaching basic (and more advanced) welding skills. It’s just another mark of his generosity. Teaching, like art, is a calling for George.
Visionary and naive artists have always been an inspiration to me. Non-trained artists have the compulsive desire to communicate their private vision and passionate point of view and to make a world that only they can make. They often believe their vision is the only correct one. They produce without a critic looking over their shoulder or being driven by mass media. Their work is fresh, unexpected, unorthodox and generally understandable to the public.
These sculptures are where I get my chance to “voice” my strongly held views about the American society’s “ills”, be they religious, political or cultural. This work often has a moralistic message and I am not afraid of preaching or offending others. It has been described as “protest art.” Nothing gets in the way of my story telling of good and evil.
I like it punchy, rough and not vague.
So next time your cruising asphalt through Marshfield or Duxbury or Scituate and something calls out to you from the edge of your vision, maybe slow down a little and pay some heed. Art is found in the most unlikely places.
All George Greenamyer quotes taken from: www.greenamyer.com
For more information, please visit: George Greenamyer, Careswell Sculpture and Iron Works @ www.greenamyer.com