Era of Terror: A Look Inside the Creative Mind of Greg Gould

By  Harriet Kaplan

Greg Gould, an L.A. based pop surrealist and long-time resident of Hive Gallery, learned that overcoming difficult, uncertain situations was a catalyst and motivator to make art his way. His earliest hurdle came when he suffered a stroke before he was born and a condition called hydrocephalus developed as a result. Yet over time, with several operations, (including a shunt put in his head to drain brain fluid), Greg managed to develop his mind and creativity in such a way he used drawing as an outlet.

“I was heavily influenced by the surrealists,” Greg explained. “I wanted to know how connections were made between seemingly unrelated things. Salvador Dali was an influence. I was drawn to his style and the way he looked at things. I would try to reproduce the works that were within my capability. And if I could do that, it would be like getting a personal lesson from the original artist.

“These days, I like to approach art like Jimi Hendrix approached music – whatever ‘rules’ apply, throw them out,” he explained. “When you can do that, you can look at the creation of ‘art’ differently. It’s a continual process. many artists want to find something and stay with it – especially if ‘it works’  – like a one-trick pony. The trick is, you can’t be just ‘one trick’, you have to keep reinventing yourself. Evolution is continual.”

“There was this show we had at the Hive in 2007- it was ‘Doll’ themed” he explained. “I had this idea ‘why don’t I try something with mannequins?’ I had never done it, though – I had no tools. So, I had a buddy help me construct what became my first mannequin lamp. We wired it up, made sure it didn’t ignite into flames, and put it into the show. I was amazed it sold! From there, I made lamps out of the mannequin legs and hands. It was odd, I found people started telling me about ‘a foot fetish subculture out there’ I’d tapped into – as far as I was concerned – was just ‘making art’. I’d shot time lapsed videos showing the process creating the lamps from parts’ to ‘finished art piece’ – I’d give DVD’s to clients so that they could watch how their piece was made. I haven’t made any of those in a while. Since I’ve moved on to other things, but that year was a turning point – it opened up the idea of making 3-D art ‘in my way’.”

Out of a personal interest for historically-based events, and to create awareness in the public’s consciousness of them, Greg gave the mannequins an even more unconventional look by putting Mickey and Minnie Mouse gas masks on them.

“In regards to the children’s Mickey/Minnie gas masks, I’m reflecting on a forgotten part of our past as Americans,” he explained. “I’m bringing it back in a way to remind people of what ‘could have been.’ It’s interesting, being the era of terror, and news today – talk of apocalypse, there was the Fukushima meltdown. The general sentiments of ‘imminence’ that people must have felt during WW II    it seems like they are resurfacing again, but, this time, ‘on steroids.’ While many people may not all be able to relate to the the fear of those times, they can imagine and see connections with our circumstances today.”

A lighter theme of working with fruit and vegetables was to follow. Greg produced paintings with eggplants with flames around them, and underneath the images of eggplants were the words “Eat Me.” He sold variations in restaurants in Santa Monica. Then he got the idea to use fake eggplants, and put them on wood suspended from a background. “When you see religious art, there are flames, or there is an aura,” he explained. “I’ve been such a lifelong fan of eggplant parmesan, I wanted to elevate it to a sort of ‘religious’ stature.”

Greg then would delve into his passion 1960’s sci-fi, working with Christmas tree ornamental metallic spheres, mixing them into oil painted backgrounds, and adding toy guns that would ‘float’ off the backgrounds. His latest project will involve using action figures of Dr. Spock and Captain Kirk. He plans to send both into the stratosphere, filmed in HD, as they ascend to the edge of space, and then descend back to earth. He will then locate them with GPS, and create individual art pieces featuring each of them –having ‘boldly gone where no action figures have gone before’ – with a DVD video of the celestial trip.

Changing subject matter once again, with a more serious tone, has been Greg’s involvement with Global Inheritance.  G.I.’s goal is to teach recycling to school kids – they give recycling bins to artists to paint into art pieces. His bins were seen at a Coachella Music Festival and one made its way to the Natural History Museum for a show called ‘Sustainable Sundays’.

“There are certain objects you will find, and you can work on them and turn them into art rather than trash, elevating them to fine art pieces. These are ‘one off’ objects you may never be able to find again, and that makes the work unique.” he said.

Thinking ahead to his future and potential legacy in art, Greg would love to one day paint a freeway mural in Los Angeles.

“It would be a good step to take, I was born in this city,” Greg explained. “It would be a nice little mark, but a big ‘personal’ feat. Sometimes, I bite off a little more I can chew, but that helps me to rise up to a challenge.”

In April, Greg will be showing a new art piece called ‘Fun Ban’ – PEZ Candy gun, surrounded by floating pieces of PEZ. His works can be seen at The Hive Gallery downtown, Artlife Gallery in El Segundo, and in the Fox comedy sitcom ‘New Girl’. He also publishes cartoons monthly in The Gallery Row Art Walk News.