On May 6, “Utilitarian Incorporeal Countereffort” opens at Kolva-Sullivan Gallery. During the reception, visitors can ask artist Paul Andrew Gregg the reasoning for the title, though he might just leave you guessing.
“It’s hard trying to define the whys and whats of an artist,” he said. “When I was in art school, I wrote an artist statement full of jargon that made sense to me. I chose words from the dictionary and chose my own definitions. The question is, do words inform viewers about the work or the artist?”
Gregg grew up in Spokane. Both of his parents were artists and art teachers. “They always encouraged me to express myself, and I received informed feedback,” he said. “From my earliest memories, art has been a way of life and at the same time exalted. It took me a long time to figure out other people weren’t also raised that way.”
After graduating from Shadle Park High School, Gregg studied art and advertising at Spokane Falls Community College but quit when it came time to take required classes. He joined the workforce for a while and returned to school, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Western Washington University. He then moved to Philadelphia, where he worked at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and made things in a large warehouse. He has shown his work sparingly, including at the Ridpath, a group museum exhibition at the Seattle Convention Center and at North Idaho College’s gallery space. He later earned a master’s in education from Gonzaga University.
Gregg acted as a roadie and manager for bands and eventually picked up the guitar to join in, playing with a handful of bands and writing songs like “What a Drag,” in which he sings “What’s in the box? A broken shell a broken clock? What’s on your mind? It’s in your face; a simple awkward state of grace.” Currently he is in a band called Rex Vox.
Gregg’s mixed-media work, which is both industrial and organic, contains many layers, beginning with hand-built frames that are like containers built to hold his ideas, thoughts and stories. Using acrylic, oil, resins, varnish, metal, bone, wood and found objects, he makes connections.
“All content aside, I try to create something with emotional import; something compelling that evokes an intangible reaction within the viewer upon engagement with the piece. I try to imbue the work with the sense that something real is happening,” he said. “There’s a push and pull. I create chaos, then almost bring order. There is a tension in juxtaposing opposites or commingling incongruent elements. I believe the response of the viewer is part of the piece. How a person responds to the work completes the work.”
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