Michigan artist Gregorio "Gregg" Perez is someone I've been wanting to do a Way Upstream exhibition with for quite some time now. We got acquainted via Flickr and we comment occasionally on each other's images. I recently asked Gregg if he'd allow the use of some of his work and he obliged. The following are his words along with five of Gregg's artistic expressions. Visit his Flickr Photostream or contact Side Door Gallery for more.
"Writing a bio is tough. A bio is supposed to summarize your life and your art. But I've always felt my life to be somewhat nebulous, floating through life with no real purpose or plan. I go with what feels right. What has always felt right is being close to nature. As a child I spent my summers deep in the woods behind my house. As I got older I gravitated towards local lakes and streams. Being on the water felt right. Fishing felt right. But fishing was not the only skill I learned as a child. As the son of a Marine I learned to shoot a pellet gun with accuracy. I learned about birds the Audubon way....by killing them. But at some point in my life I started to change. I had seen enough death. At some point in my life I became more compassionate towards God's creatures. I kept fewer fish. I shot birds with a camera instead of a gun. I learned to flyfish. I learned catch and release. When I watched the woods behind my house get cut down, bulldozed and developed I decided to live a life of protection instead of destruction."
"As with most kids I enjoyed art. But my parents knew the obstacles of success. There was an understanding in our household that Mexican Americans had to work harder and study harder just to be considered equals. Education was not an option. It was mandatory. So, my mother who also happened to be a guidance counselor channeled my creative energy towards engineering and architecture instead of art. She said when I was an adult I could make art, but until then I would stay on the college prep course. It wasn't until college that I was able to take my first art class."
"I painted Flybox several years ago. I chose to paint in acrylic and watercolor after college because during college I became sensitized to mineral spirits. It's really a very crude and unrefined painting. But I liked it for some reason. Perhaps it's because I have a fascination for Native American and Aboriginal art. I learned early on that subjects in my paintings were rarely photo realistic. Unintentionally they always seemed to acquire primitive hints of Hispanic, Native American or Aboriginal culture."
"About 10 years ago I got my first really good look at some block prints in a gallery exhibition. I liked them so much I went to the local art store and purchased a starter kit. From that point on I have been working with linoleum and wood to create relief prints. I immediately fell in love with the primitive look of block prints. Kingfisher, Prince Nymph and Night Heron were all cut in linoleum using my Speedball starter kit. My depictions of flies are intentionally created with deity undertones. My dad had very eclectic taste in art growing up. I have vivid memories of Hindu gods decorating our walls. Flies with their ornate dress remind me of these Hindu paintings of my youth. The linocut, Night Heron was originally designed as a ceramic design. I had been collaborating with a local ceramic artist to help with pottery decoration. Unfortunately I could never get the glaze to turn out on vertical pots. The design turned out much better as a block print I think. Anyway, I eventually purchased some better quality cutting tools and began to cut blocks in wood. Specifically, I use Shina plywood from Japan. Pheasant Tail no.2 is a woodblock print."
"As my art continues to evolve I find myself leaning more and more towards primitive techniques and materials. I am currently experimenting with natural pigments grown and harvested in my own yard. Next, I would like to start making my own paper. As far as subjects are concerned I am fascinated with literary inspirations such as William Morris, Frank Lloyd Wright, Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Thoreau, Gierach, Maclean and a few others."