Laura Hutson and I have been talking a lot lately about how Nashville's art scene has evolved over the last three decades. Thinking back on some of the highlights over the years, one of the first things that came to mind for me was artist J. Todd Greene's Paw Paw Sermons painting series.
In 1997, Greene hosted a pair of shows at J & J's Market and at The Arts Company. Both shows featured paintings inspired by the pictographic cards Greene's late preacher grandfather invented to assist him in delivering his Sunday sermons. The totemic canvases completely sold out at both shows and Greene instantly became the biggest name in the scene.
While Greene might have contemplated cranking out countless Paw Paw's for his hungry collectors, he didn't consider it for long. Instead he followed his painting into increasingly abstract work, eventually leading to a handful of sculpture/installation/mural exhibitions at the late, great Twist. Greene also started the band Bulb and has released 20 albums since 2000.
If you aren't familiar with Greene's art, you could be forgiven the slight — he hasn't always made his trajectory easy to follow. His latest exploits have involved showing his work under pseudonyms like “Fritz Hats” and “Donkeyman.” He's even eschewed formal gallery showings recently to simply hang the occasional painting or sculpture on the exteriors of downtown buildings where they are inevitably discovered and claimed by equally anonymous passersby. Greene has also been performing stand-up comedy under another assumed name: Reverend Jebediah Stump.
In a phone interview with the Scene Greene explained, “It's a Henry Miller thing. He started doing watercolors and he really loved doing watercolors. In one of his books he said that he'd take any amount of money or art supplies for one of his paintings and I've decided to take on that philosophy.”
That helps explain a Facebook announcement that Greene posted earlier this week letting his online community know that he'll be having a “pay what you want” art sale this Saturday at The Bank Gallery from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Here are all the details via Greene's hilarious Facebook post:
“I've been strongly influenced by a book called The Gift and I'm finding a different way to get the work out there,” says Greene. “Some people have wanted the work, but the thing that's gotten in the way has been the price. I don't want that to get in the way anymore.”
See you at the sale!