Adam Greener’s ‘Spiral Bound’ exhibit is now at the Kimball Art Center
Ryan Summerlin December 7, 2013
While attending high school, many students doodle on notebook paper when they should be listening to their teachers.
They draw comic-book characters, band logos, trees, bicycles. Students even come up with their own type of calligraphy and write notes to each other, only to be horrified when a teacher intercepts a one and reads it a loud in class.
Visual artist Adam Greener remembers his high-school doodles, and, unlike many students these days, doesn’t mind if people see them.
In fact, Greener draws what people consider "doodles" for a living. And the crazy thing about that is he shows them at art galleries.
The Kimball Art Center is one of those galleries. Greener’s "Spiral Bound" exhibit is on display in the Garage Gallery through Jan. 5.
The 18 works that are part of the show appear to be drawn on large-scale loose-leaf papers that measure 32 by 40 inches, and cover an array of ideas.
"The range is broad and exciting to me," Greener said during a telephone interview from Los Angeles, Calif., with The Park Record. "There are some love letters, pieces of homework that I scribbled on and pieces that look like sketches that I’m excited to put out there for the show."
The works were inspired by pieces that Greener remembered drawing in class when he was in his teens.
"When I was in middle school, I would create art as a distraction or avoidance of what was happening in class," Greener said. "I did a lot sketching, drawing and note passing, and, as a result, got into a lot of trouble because of that.
"I mean, I was a good student, but, my teachers — wait, that’s not true," he said. "I wasn’t a great student. I was actually a little bit of a class clown, and I remember getting creative out of necessity to escape boredom."
When Greener reached adulthood, there was still a part of his psyche that didn’t grow up, and he found himself falling back on his doodles.
"Creativity, to me, has always been a way to handle the distractions of life and ways to express myself," he said. "Even now, I find myself attracted to what kids are drawing on their homework papers."
Throughout the years, Greener has created a bunch of sketches, but never thought about showing them to anyone but family and close friends.
"I’ve always been one to draw but didn’t consider myself an artist necessarily until a friend suggested I present a set of my pieces in a group show that was accepting submissions last year," he said. "My friend, who is a very talented photographer, told me that I needed to get my stuff seen."
So Greener applied to show his work in an exhibit called Create Pixate, a competitive local-artist show they put on twice a year in Los Angeles.
"I got accepted and it was like, ‘What, really? I’m going to hang my stuff and people are going to pay money to see it?’" he said. "I’m an art collector myself, but never thought about myself in that light."
But the people who saw his work liked what they saw.
"The response was overwhelming," he said. "People told me they connected with the material, because, I think, it took them back to the days when they did things like this.
One of the things about Greener’s pieces is that they are done with complete sincerity.
"There is something so awesome about the purity and honesty of being at that age in your life when you’re expressing thoughts and feeling and emotions," he said.
The first thing he does when he begins a new work is to reach back into his youth.’
"I retrace my steps and have to quiet all the voices that have popped up throughout the years between my childhood and where I am now in order to get back in touch with my inner child," he said. "I have to think as the fifth grader Adam Greener what he was thinking when he was falling in love for the first time, or when he drew the giant Godzilla when he couldn’t figure out the math problem that the teacher was doing. And that’s what I enjoy so much about the process."
Greener said there is weightiness to the work now, because it is done by an adult for adults.
"That brings in a different subtext, but I get a kick out of seeing people’s reactions to the works," he said. "People have told me that the stuff I do triggers certain memories and stories that were stored in their heads. So I feel like this is my way of connecting with them."
While the works do remind Greener and his audience of the past, they aren’t created in the same way. In fact, there is a lot of preparation that goes into these projects.
"I take the measurements of a regular 8 by 11 ½ inch spiral-bound piece of loose leaf notebook paper and adjust that to fit a two-ply museum board that measures 32 by 40 inches," Greener said. "I draw the lines by hand and carve out the holes, so the piece looks like it had been ripped out of a giant notebook."
Even before he starts making marks on the museum board, Greener completes a small-sized prototype.
"I do my sketching on a regular-sized loose-leaf paper and then project that image onto the larger board so I can trace and draw it out," he said. "It proves challenging, because sometimes I have words that I have to make look as if a kid wrote them. And that takes patience to make sure the letters look like a 12- or 15-year-old wrote them."
"Spiral Bound," an exhibit by Adam Greener, will run through Jan. 5, at the Kimball Art Center’s Garage Gallery, 328 Park Ave. For more information, visit www.kimballartcenter.org .