Gregory Block defies convention and uses his artwork to push boundaries and ignite
conversation. “The New Twenty,” has people talking and he loves that. Upon first
glance, one may think it’s a defiant take on the idea that some of the population has
money to burn.
It goes much deeper than that. “Money is a tool we use to enrich our lives, but it should
not be something we fixate on” Greg says. Hearing so many conversations about the
state of the economy spurred him to think about how much our finances can control us.
Listening to the song Long Way Home by Tom Waits, the line “Money is just something
you throw,” resonated with Greg. He wanted to create a series of paintings which
revealed his belief we cannot worry about something intangible.
For many years he shared a studio with the late artist and fellow local Susan Schiesser.
“We used to joke about how much she spent on expensive paints, some of which she
never used,” he says. “When she died, she bequeathed her paint collection to me, which
I think she did just to spite me,” he continues, laughing.
Creating “The New Twenty” was one of the most technical pieces he has done yet.
“People gravitate to the detail in the bill, but it is the gradual tones in the background
that proved the greatest challenge,” he says. He wanted to give the flame a visceral
feeling, a task he achieved.
When it came to the blue strip in the bill he needed a very specific blue, one he did not
have on hand. He ended up finding the perfect tube in Susan’s collection. “It had a
reflective quality from fine blue flakes which looked like water when I painted with.”
Greg believed it to be serendipitous. “Susan and I were like fire and water, we balanced
each other out and I think she has a huge part to play in this painting,” he finishes.
“Relationships and experiences transcend money, a message I hope hits home for