By Troy McMullen
In a solo career that has now spanned six albums in eight years, Adam Green has managed to endear himself to indie music fans by using a keenly-honed pop sensibility to deliver a unique brand of off-kilter, unpredictable folk-rock.
The New York-based singer/songwriter, a member emeritus of the lo-fi band the Moldy Peaches, employed some of the same childlike, stream-of-consciousness motifs in his latest creative effort.
“Teen Tech,” Green’s debut art show on view recently at the Morrison Hotel Gallery Bowery in New York City, featured dozens of playful, incongruous original works that would fit nicely alongside any of his album liner notes.
Much like the witty, often sardonic songs Green has churned out over the past decade, his artwork mixes equal doses of sincerity and snarkiness – with a dab of free association.
“All of the artwork in the show is more cerebral and doesn’t necessarily have to do with technique,” Green said recently at the show’s closing, where he also performed a few songs. “Because I'm an entertainer in showbiz, I found myself trying to make this art show more entertaining than average.”
The show, housed in a gallery space formerly occupied by the legendary music club CBGB, features more than 60 works of art, including sculptures of plaster and papier-mâché, large-scale acrylic or watercolor paintings, drawings and collages. It coincided with Green’s two-night stand at the nearby Bowery Ballroom, capping a U.S. tour in support of his latest album, “Minor Love.”
Many of the works feature caricatures of cartoons that “distill the subjects down to their bare essence,” says Green. “I don't often read comics but I've always liked to draw cartoons. He adds, “I contend that all artists work in caricature.”
Nearly all artworks have sold, according to Peter Blachley, co-owner of the gallery, who says collectors included the actor Macaulay Culkin. A portion of the proceeds from the show will be donated to Artists for Peace and Justice, a charitable organization aimed at rebuilding Haiti after January’s earthquake. Green says he was introduced to the relief organization after donating a hand-designed t-shirt for a recent online auction to raise funds for the organization.
Blachey, a former record company executive and producer, says the collaboration with Green was an easy fit.
“Adam knew enough about his own work so he knows what he wants to exhibit,” says Blachey. “For me it’s just a matter of me saying ‘Hey, come on in and do this. Let’s make it happen.’”
The Morrison Hotel Gallery Bowery is named after the 1970 album by The Doors and has had a connection to rock music since opening in 2008. Blachey launched the gallery with former independent record store owner Rich Horowitz and music photographer Henry Diltz, who famously snapped the cover image of the Doors for “The Morrison Hotel” album. The three men have a second gallery location, opened in 2001, in nearby SoHo.
CBGB, the launching pad for influential rock and punk acts from the Ramones to Talking Heads, closed in 2006. Blachey and his partners re-opened the space two years later with an inaugural exhibit of photographs and mixed media pieces featuring rock icons including The Clash, the Sex Pistols and the Rolling Stones from artist Steve Joester.
Musicians like singer Ryan Adams have showed their artwork at the gallery and Blachey says more shows featuring musicians are being discussed. “Musicians have always brought something unique to art,” he says. “The same creative energy they bring to their music is often found in their art as well and that ultimately makes it special.”