When he's not busy painting, Gregg likes to take a break to write poems about painting.
A few selected samples below:
OIL PAINTING HEAVEN
One evening in my studio
while burning midnight oil
a vision came to me
of what's beyond this mortal coil
A sudden flash of blinding light
and then a puff of smoke
revealed what will follow
when we paint the final stroke
Off there in the distance
through an evanescent glow
I saw that there's a special place
where oil painters go
A place where painting's all you do
for twenty four dash seven,
a place the angels like to call:
Oil Painting Heaven
In Oil Painting Heaven
all the clouds are filled with easels
and when you have a one-man show
red-dots pop up like measles
While help is free and teachers teach
and never charge a dime,
advise that's unsolicited
is treated as a crime
In Oil Painting Heaven
nearly everyone's objective
anatomy's a piece of cake
and all can do perspective.
And every portrait comes out looking
beautiful and true,
and never like a head from
Zombie-Cannibals part two
And all the paint you'll ever need
is sitting on the shelves
and palettes all are beautiful
and brushes wash themselves
And when you're plein air painting
upon some puffy cloud
no matter how bizarre you look
you'll never draw a crowd
But best of all is whether
it's an angel or a saint,
no one drops by to tell you that
their uncle used to paint.
But if some angels do drop by
and say they're not quite certain
whether what you're painting now
will go with their new curtain,
Pick up the phone and dial 0
and ask for personnel
cause maybe you've been transferred into
Oil Painting Hell
Back when caves were used as houses
Hairy men had hairy spouses
Hairiness, in fact, was the extent
of their attire
In the caves though there was fighting
over insufficient lighting
till they figured out how rubbing sticks
could start a fire.
Once they got the conflagration
giving off illumination
they were shocked to see the sorry state
of their décor
Ribs and hoofs and broken thigh-bones
Lots of scattered wet and dry bones
Made a look that’s best described as
Walls as well were unappealing
And the unappealing ceiling
Offered zero beauty to Cro-magnams
All agreed the sight was dismal
No debate; it looked abysmal
How to make it better though
Nobody seemed to know
Soon they all began to bicker
As their heavy brows got thicker
“What would give this cave”, they asked
“Some decorative appeal?”
Some were up for random splotches
Some said let’s do multicolored blotches
Then a voice said “Why not try
depicting something real?
Why not paint a horse or rhino,
subjects that both you and I know.
Mastodons or bison or some deer.
We could have them run or feeding
Paint a herd of them stampeding
If we’re lucky what we paint might
even last a year.”
Everybody stood there gaping.
“This”, they said, “is surely shaping
up to be the worst idea that we have
Far from making us euphoric
This idea is prehistoric
Painting wild animals is frankly too absurd.
Who wants art that’s realistic?
Blobs and dots are more artistic
Let’s break down our inhibitions,
Overcome our blocks.”
(This is just a rough translation
at that time a conversation
tended more to grunting and occasionally to rocks.)
They continued their discussion
With occasional concussion
And what started then is controversial still today
Does what’s real really matter?
Is it just as good to splatter?
Are the two approaches each as valid in their way?
While that debate may tend to bore us
Thirty thousand years before us
Someone thought that animals were
More than just a meal
Someone wondered when they saw them
Whether they could paint or draw them
Someone said let’s make these walls
A celebration of what’s real.
Don’t Blame Me. com
Paintings sometimes run amuck
Some pictures fall apart
Not every one’s a masterpiece
Not all are works of art
But if your picture goes downhill
you’ll often hear the claim
that since you’re who created it
then you should get the blame
Through convoluted logic
Some people take the view
that eyesores which you painted
are bad because of you
We at Don’t Blame Me .com
ask why are you the one?
Why should you be pilloried
for something that you’ve done?
Why when what you painted
Is not a massive thrill
Are you seen as the culprit?
Why is that the drill?
Don’t Blame Me. com’s committed to
Saying no to such abuses
Here our team is fighting back
with serious excuses
Our research squad of experts
each day goes through our vault
to find effective ways to say
“Back off; it’s not my fault.”
Excuses here are tailor made
for every paint occasion
whether in your studio
or out on some location.
For instance here’s a few you’ll need
if you go paint plein aire
“The turpentine attracted bugs.”
“The sunlight caused some glare.”
“The easel was unsteady.”
“The oil lid got stuck”
“The canvas wasn’t standard size”
“The view became a truck.”
“Someone took my paper towels”
“The set-up made me scrunch”
“A man thought I was there to chat.”
“A dog thought I was lunch. ”
And if you’re painting indoors
You won’t have far to look
Our staff can show you countless ways
To get you off the hook
“The model couldn’t hold the pose.”
“I had to wake her twice.”
“The window wasn’t facing north.”
“The fruit attracted mice.”
“Someone broke the still life props
And chipped the pots and basins.”
“The flowers died.” “The fish decayed.”
“The grapes turned into raisons.”
All of these and many more
are here for you to claim
All we need’s a password
and a valid user-name
And any questions you might have
we’re happy to discuss
And if you’re not completely pleased
remember; don’t blame us.
off at college
Plays it smart
No need working
Here a blob
There a smush
Doesn’t blow it
Keeps it free
'Fore you know it:
What to do now?
Must not fail!
See it through now
Off to Yale
There he snags
As he bags
Eye on prize
Soon he’s got
A one-man show
Here’s his shot
All systems go
He installs the
though, sad to say
what’s on display
throws entire show
Attention all you litigants
We’re Nelson, Jones, and Schmuck;
Even if you have no case
With us you’re still in luck
Other firms may say “No way”
“You haven’t got a prayer.”
Here at Nelson, Jones, and Schmuck
You’ll only hear “We care.”
All you have to do is
discontinue what you’re doing
And join us here as we embark
upon some major suing
Other firms may file briefs
When cleaners leave a spot
Or take to court a restaurant
Whose coffee is too hot
Here at Nelson, Jones, and Schmuck
We have a higher goal
Here we’re seeking recompense for
damage to the soul!
What’s that? You say there’s nothing wrong?
That everything’s in place?
That’s just the kind of evidence
That proves you’ve got a case
The more you have a happy smile
And cheerful attitude
To us at Nelson, Jones, and Schmuck
It’s clear that you’ve been screwed
Cause there’s a secret harm out there
That’s like an ancient curse
A nasty, toxic, viral threat
Like leprosy but worse
You think that all is going well?
We’re sorry but the fact is
You’re probably a victim of;
Cultural Malpractice is
a force that warps your thinking
A force that says what’s wrong is right,
Smells good’s the same as stinking
It started circa World War One
when nation slaughtered nation
Someone then said “What we need is
So looking at high culture
they saw a sitting duck
and switched from “What a masterpiece!”
to “Hold it! What the fuck?!”
Then they went and gathered up
the verities of art
And threw them into disrepute
And ripped them all apart
“Reality you’re done,” they said,
“Coherence you’re retired
Harmony, hey there’s the door,
Beautiful, you’re fired!”
“It is time” these critics said to
scribes and connoisseurs
“for everything that once was praised
to join the dinosaurs.
Development of craft’s kaput
Skillful is taboo.
No more shall we indulge the past,
Instead here’s what we’ll do;
Sculptors; sculpt some giant blobs
Painters; paint some dots
Composers; give up melody
Playwrights; give up plots
And if you’re writing poetry
You need to know it’s time
Meter’s now’s abolished
And so are words that sound similar.”
These dictates all were followed
Each artist got in step
And those who didn’t found themselves
As popular as strep
So now we get a floating shark
Instead of Rodin’s bronze
Now instead of Rembrandt’s head
It’s flags by Jasper Johns
“But why is this a legal point?” you ask us.
We understand. You’re wondering;
Who the hell gets sued?
Well since complaints are coming in
From Spain to Oklahoma,
We’ve got defendants popping up
From Pompidou to MOMA
The first step is establishing
that real harm’s been done
and that’s of course no problem cause
the victims?; everyone.
When PHD’s from Yale
who seem to be adult
swoon about blank canvases,
they’re clearly in a cult.
When art school majors deep in debt
are told they should be awed
by teachers who can’t draw or paint,
we’ve got consumer fraud
When children in museums
are instructed to enthuse
over stacks of broken rocks
It’s clearly child abuse
In short when culture’s swallowed whole
by meaningless abstraction,
it’s up to all of us to mount
a cerified class action
We know we’ve got a solid case
We know that we won’t fail
But will we vanquish all our foes?
Don’t worry; we’ll prevail
So listen all malpracticers
You’ve just run out of luck.
Cause guess who’s taken on the case;
Nelson, Jones, and Schmuck
It used to be when "love" came up
humanity was awed,
writers groped for metaphors,
poets hemmed and hawed.
But due to recent breakthroughs
in genetics and brain science,
we now see love for what it is:
a practical appliance.
Nowadays we understand
is simply strands of DNA
Love, we’ve learned, is just a tool
to keep the gene pool flowing.
A strategy like camouflage
that keeps the species going.
But even if our understanding’s
some believe the language used
is just not quite as moving.
Some contend reducing love to
doesn’t really capture
all the feeling in our hearts.
This argument, in point of fact,
Is logically defective,
cause using scientific terms
in truth is more effective.
"When I stare into your eyes
my frontal lobe collapses.
Neurons fuse and activate,
and so do my synapsis
Being with you induces rapid
You heat up my pheromones.
Hormones are secreting.
Everything about you
makes my molecules get active.
In short, in terms of social norms
I find you most attractive.
And so I give my heart to you.
I totally surrender,
and hope that now you’ll share with me
your preference for a gender.”
If this is a dream please don't wake me.
If I am asleep do not shake me.
I won't compromise, will not open my eyes
and I’m hoping nobody will make me.
I agree sometimes life seems surreal,
But however absurd it may feel
if I am asleep I'd just as soon keep
the illusion that all this is real
Some people are plunged in confusion
When told that all life's an illusion
They try to escape and get bent out of shape
But what is so wrong with delusion?
So what if we're helplessly caught
In a film with an outrageous plot?
Who cares if the story is crazy or gory
with scenes that should never be shot?
If this isn't real what of it?
We still can explore it and love it
What good would it do to be yelling out “You
can take this delusion and shove it!"
This morning I got out of bed
(Or imagined I did in my head)
And went down the street to get something to eat
And talked to a waiter named Fred
After wolfing down all of my meal
I explained to Fred life isn't real
I said it’s a joke, only mirrors and smoke
And reality's just how we feel.
In talking to him I'm afraid
He seemed to get somewhat dismayed
For despite what I said, it turned out that Fred
believed that he ought to get paid
“Perhaps,” he said, “life is fictitious,
Just fantasies made out of wishes,
But if you don’t pay, you’re going to stay
And wash hypothetical dishes.”