by Gussie Fauntleroy
"Focus Santa Fe" April 2002
Greg Storer,s abstract expressionist roots still show in the artists current work, even though he shifted to a representational style. His primary subject these days is houses, especially the sturdy frame farmhouses so frequently seen in the east and midwest, including the small town near Cincinnati where he makes his home. Yet the real theme of these works is the continual exploration of form and color - and the reflections and stories they can evoke. The forms are architectural and natural shapes which have impressed themselves on his psyche since boyhood. The colors, infused with depth, are often pushed to a high intensity in the service of mood. Storer began painting at the age of five, taking classes at the Cincinnati Art Museum, and later earning a fine art degree from Ohio State University. His current images are devoid of figures and deliberately undetailed. The result is often an intriguing sense of ambiguity and mystery, allowing the viewer to respond with imagination. They may suggest home and family, or solitude, or an expectation of something about to happen. The artist likes leaving the interpretation open. As he quips in a deadpan tone, "I just tell people I'm a house painter".
by Alain Wasseige, director 100 Titres Galerie,
Brussels, January 2001
Greg Storer's pictures stem from his most personal memories and from the intimate depths where they have matured, and so everything begins with photographs, childhood photographs (of the family, characterized by their changelessness) those of youth and early adulthood (photographs of American Football which he played and which are marked by their intense dynamic). Far from wanting to confine himself to the exactness of memory or delve into the its specifics, Storer seizes the photographic souvenir: he isolates it from the precise moment in which it was born, dissociates from the places that have nurtured it, erases the details of bodies and faces, forsakes the colors, blurs the clear lines of the original image in order to capture the intrinsic elements of light and movement and assert the importance of the bands of subject matter and of the facets brushed aside. By distancing himself from the unique features of memory, counterbalanced by the avouched presence of pastels as a painting medium (limited to a range of blacks, grays and white) and by the use of planes which evoke cinematographic art, Storer reveals the core of his rtistic approach. Thus every viewer comes to see these pastels as fragments of stories in which he invents and inserts his own path through life. The instant laid bare by Storer suggests a piece of a story in which we can imagine what went before and what will follow, We are attracted by the zones of shade and light and by the mystery unfolding there. Far from the chilly process of pushing memory to one side, pastel as a painting material bestows on memory transformed by the drawing, that flesh and blood character which is inevitably linked to it. Beyond the subject matter, we constantly revel in the stroke of the crayon on which infuses its own life into the drawings, even in cases where the initial pose seems stilted, and lends a sense of presence to a raw material which we know quite well belongs to the past.
Nature Seen Through Three Sets of Eyes
by Jeanne Fryer Kohles
Columbus Dispatch, September 24, 2000
Houses and barns are the grist for Storer's Idiosyncratic eye but only to the extent that they are able to convey occult meaning. In other words, his paintings are not meant to be strict visual records but probes into the poetic possibilities that inhere in such edifices. Paintings such as "Midnight Waiting" have an anthropomorphic cast, as if the ghost of Charles Burchfield had wandered by. Other works, strangely different, seemed to have ingested nature and spat it back rather than having mirrored it.
Greg Storer creates a 'living creature' with his Walnut Hills mural
by Fran Watson
About a block from Victory Parkway on East McMillan and directly opposite Frisch's, a new life has taken root in Walnut Hills. Artist Greg Storer has installed a commissioned mural, "Heart of Town," that harks back to the old centers of trade, once a vital part of every community. There's an art gallery, barber shop, lunch counter, toy shop, music store, bakery and even the alley that was once the standard neighborhood shortcut.
These are more than just fancies of Storer's imagination, though. He has incorporated little histories and personalities that actually existed -- maybe not here, but somewhere in the past. Like every piece of art, there's a story to go with what he's depicted. Sometimes they're his own childhood memories, and often they're the activity happening around the mural which will, itself, one day become memory. Like all good art, the project requires an investment by the viewer to profit best from it.
Frisch's offers the best way to experience the mural -- and "experience" is the key to its appreciation -- seated in a window booth with a cup of coffee, surrounded by the real neighborhood and its residents. Color and subject matter are so close to the reality of their surroundings that it would be easy to walk by the paintings and not notice anything out of the ordinary.
But as time passes, things happen. From this vantage point, the mural gains activity from the unwitting participation of passers-by. A group of young men move in a flock, laughing and talking, under the scaffolding of the old building on which the art is exhibited. The mural covers the space from sidewalk to first floor ceiling and extends across two lots, so that individuals seem to belong in the scene behind them as they pass. Cars, buses and even the oversized Big Boy statue in front of the restaurant become a moving addition to the false store fronts, endowing them with new life every moment.
Storer had never attempted anything like this before, although his paintings of houses and neighborhoods have won him acclaim throughout his career. He envisions the murals more as shelters for families and human drama than mere constructions, making the pseudo-shops a natural choice to reside in a still-vital historic area.
When plans for the possible mural began this past February, ideas flew thick and fast. There were two big eyes occupying the front windows in an initial computer sketch, replaced by a monumental Martin Luther King Jr. looking down on the street. Then windows full of clouds seemed plausible, and a passing flirtation with the idea of a Bengals mural. (Storer, a former Ohio State football player, loves sports.)
The eventual design, however, has a dignity that somehow fits the world in which it exists. Storer sees this work continuing, changing and eventually decaying like any other living thing. He's chosen not to protect the surface with extraordinary measures in anticipation of allowing the aging process to develop a unique beauty, a plan that met with the approval of the mural's patron, Dora Lewis.
"A woman of passions" is how Storer describes Lewis -- passions for the neighborhood and its history, for the people who live here, with a speaking acquaintance with nearly everyone, for education and the future, all reflecting in the things she works to protect and enhance. The building for which the mural was made is old, with huge, oval-topped windows and a scaffold platform on the top for hoisting heavy material.
Whatever its past, though, the building carries a long history, as did the one next to it that's been razed.
Lewis doesn't allow things to be destroyed, says Storer. Razing the building was, in fact, an act of love in which every brick was numbered and stored and every history-drenched item carefully preserved.
Within Storer's subject matter in the mural, other artists and other places receive homage. The lunch counter nods to Edward Hopper's "Night Hawks," and his "Sunday Morning" erupts in the barber pole. The actual doorway to the remaining building harbors a shimmering, dark red heart, referring to both the native Cincinnati artist Jim Dine's work and the mural's title.
A brilliant red door has art from the hand of Storer's 4-year-old daughter, Katie. Lewis added a splash of paint here and there. Through the alley the towers of Over-the-Rhine can be glimpsed, as Storer recalls a studio he had on Pendleton Street a few years ago. Mike's barber shop is named for the site of Storer's own childhood haircuts. Lewis is immortalized in the name of the Lewis Music Store, and the art gallery is named Marlboro, one of New York's most prestigious art dealers.
Since the painting was done in Storer's studio and then installed on the building, Detzel Construction workers became an important pragmatic element. Jeff Ross, job site foreman, is remembered in the painting as well.
Already things are happening to the mural as it settles into its space. Padlocks protrude in order to secure the building, and a bright blue mailbox has been installed to collect history every day. (Storer drops by to pick up mail sent to the mural.)
"This is probably the only work of art in the world that has its own active address," Storer says, loving the very uniqueness of the concept.
HEART OF TOWN is located at 1031 E. McMillan St. in Walnut Hills. You can write to the mural at 1031 E. McMillan St., Cincinnati, OH 45206. Who knows, it might even answer.
Greg Storer: Recent Paintings
by Fran Watson
Art Academy News, Cincinnati Art Academy
A century ago August renoir pondered, why should beauty be suspect?" Today the niave art lover must surely ask the same question of the vast majority of fine art offered by galleries int his area. In the quest to be different, all too often beauty is not only suspect, but frequently seems to be the least important necessary element. When a show of recognizable, well crafted imagery such as that of Greg Storer's recent exibition at Closson's appears it is greeted with a sigh of relief, acceptance....and sales. Storer's rather small works, the largest dimension shown was 26 inches, concentrate on color and confidence. Their brilliance and familiarty are the result of Storer's favorite meathod of production, plein air painting.
With paint and support on site, and occasionally the company of his young son, Storer may spend just a few hours capturing the excitement of his initial impression of a subject. With his nearly flawless eye for composition and an affinity for tonal contrast and sublety, he transforms mundane niches of local scenes into art.
Cityscapes, especially those from the windows of Storer's Pendleton studio best illustrate his strength. Both of his renderings of a neighborhood laundromat are classic examples of confident, painterly process, as well as the close correlation between realism and abstraction. The prosaic little inner city laundromat huddles between intimidating tall brick facades, all of which slide along an angle of street. Fragments of foreground buildings slice planes into a diamond-like construction of pristine light and shade, requiring just the briefest alteration to become total abstraction. And not surprisingly.
Storer's student years at Ohio State Universtity were spent pursuing abstraction more seriously. It was his fascination with color which eventually resolved his interest in realism, an association easily understood in his exploration of reflection on the neglected grey exterior of Foster's Abandoned House, an unremarkable prototype of countless abandoned midwestern houses. Storer's fascination was with the variety of colors he found on the seemingly monochromatic surface, briught to life by a damp atmosphere.
Next to the Pendleton pieces, Storer's suburban street scenes, full of colorful compositional surprises, and two choice interiors, The Seventh Floor, Pendleton, and The Lesson are prime examples of Greg Storer at his best. Judiciously unconventional spacial arrangements play no small role in their intense, but
Realism has been creeping into the big scene on both coasts, slowly but surely in the past few years. The declining art market has prompted buyers to opt for what they perceive as less of a gamble. Also, when art can no longer be described as a blue-chip investment, collectors tend to purchase work they personally enjoy and understand. Greg Storer is not alone in his preference for this genre.
Realism can only succeed if it is well rendered and painted with an obvious knowledge of the craft. if identifiable imagery is here to stay, it will only be work like Greg Storer's which will go the distance, work of quality and commitment.