I am befuddled daily, perplexed by life, people, celebrities, politics, and Red Face (keep reading), as well as a long list of other things you could not begin to imagine, like seahorses and the struggle to create engaging visual art. So I am excited and eager to introduce you to an established local talent, but, as I do so, I remain puzzled. I sense he has masterminded my confusion the whole time like a puppet master, but still the fact is he has got me thinking and asking questions. Gregory Zeorlin is a local art zealot, poet, photographer, video maker, average male, amazing homemade pizza maker, navel gazer, and a genuinely kind and friendly human being. I wish more people were like him. The times I have spent in his company have been enlightening, entertaining, pleasant, and too few and far between.
When the doldrums hit, we forget to appreciate how fortunate it is to have art and artists like Gregory Zeorlin in East Texas to shake things up. It is a satisfying surprise when my Inbox has a message with a link to Mr. Average Male reading an intimate poem about his underwear and the complexity of living an unpolished life. Artist Gregory Zeorlin states, “I’m not sure where art fits into your life. The newest cultural surveys on our great modern society show the arts, in general, are experienced by less people every day. Less of us go to museums, plays, poetry events, etc. This is a tragedy because the influence of art on daily life is taken for granted. Can you imagine a time when the arts are left behind? What a drab place our world would be!” Discussing one of his poems Zeorlin says, “The presence of dullness is the gentle warning behind a poem I wrote titled ‘Blue Apple.’ This poem kept coming to mind even though I write many poems and don’t remember most of them. ‘Blue Apple’ keeps popping up, especially when I’m feeling a bit blue with studio efforts. So I made a print for the poem to remind me of my calling as an artist. Artists enhance the way we live and see the world.”
Greg employs a wide variety of materials and processes to make his art, including ceramics, paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and written poetry. He uses metal, stone, wood, hair, found objects, clay, dryer lint and an assortment of other unconventional materials to make 3D works as well as mixed media paintings. He does not have a preferred substance or way of working. Greg says, “My art begins as an idea which pushes me towards the materials and progressions needed. This approach has made my time in the studio an ongoing challenge. I thrive on experimenting and learning new things. I cannot imagine spending my professional life striving for a certain look. I change physically, mentally and spiritually, so it is natural for my art to reflect this.”
Gregory Zeorlin earned his Master of Fine Arts degree at New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY and a Bachelors of Arts in Humanities from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN. Zeorlin has an impressive resume of art exhibitions, public sculpture projects, collections and an ever-growing portfolio of creative work, most recently exploring video poetry. Greg mentioned, “Some characters in these video poems are quite frenzied. But I’m just an average guy buying milk and cereal at the grocery. I’m never quite sure what an individual will do in these low tech video poems.” About his recent oddity, Red Face personality, Greg stated, “The poem is a reminder of how dismal life would be if the arts faded from our lives. The video poem is about a red face hurrying to get somewhere although the destination is uncertain. This red face is encountered everywhere and at any time.” I have personally seen this video and I will admit, it is weird. It is confusing. It is frantic and insane. It is also every single one of us at some point in our lives. We see ourselves and realize the comfort of human connectedness. We are all in this world together dealing with the aspects of a human existence. We comprehend the benefits of real and even imaginary friends.
When I asked Greg what got him started as an artist, he answered, “My undergraduate degree is in Humanities. I took courses in psychology, theology and sociology which helped me learn to think and ask questions.” And the importance art has in his life? “Well, my wife Anne says our mutual interest in art gave us an artful marriage. We met due to having bit parts in a college play. There are many important things that have become part of my life due to the arts. Making art – including writing poetry – has made me tune in to my surroundings. Art has kept me from being a passive observer. I want to experience things…notice the chaos, logic, magic and order that makes the day. In my studio practice, these four things also define art. Being an artist is hard but this work also requires a sense of playfulness and wonder. I make what is on my mind. When I formulate something it is no longer just a theory, it becomes real. And it’s real even if no one else sees it. There are moments when I want to grab people’s attention. Not that I have the only idea to be noticed… but rather I am putting something out there for others to see. I offer a perspective. The more ways we look at something, the more interesting and profound our world becomes. While I want others to see what I do, I would still make it purely for the immediate experience and satisfaction that comes from being in the studio.”
“But I do find inspiration from abstract art, walking sticks (tribal staffs, religious objects, etc.), communication towers, listening to music, cooking ethnic dishes, baking bread, trail running and many other things. All the stuff that makes up a day all goes into a work of art.” Well said, Greg, well said.
Listed below are Greg Zeorlin’s websites and social media connections, and I hope you will explore them and use them to shake things up. Use his art and inspiration to rattle your own cage and flex your own imaginative mind. Maybe YOUR next creative creation will be what befuddles me next.