An Interview with

This is the transcript of an interview conducted by PoshArt eMagazine at the San Diego Comicon August, 2010

Q: I'm here with Geoff Greene, a California artist who has started a movement called NEAT-O! in response to what he sees as the confines and restrictions of the current art scene. I understand a young child was attending one of your exhibits and when he saw your paintings he said: "NEAT-O!" Is that correct?

GG: Uh... yelled it loudly, yes.

Q: And that's how your movement got started?

GG: Well, there was a lot of soul-searching involved, but that response seemed to encapsulate a range of issues I'd been grappling with, all put into one childish word that means, y'know - fun.

Q: So, essentially, NEAT-O! advocates a retreat to a child-like, untutored response to art.

GG: NEAT-O! seeks to re-broaden the concept of what constitutes art to include stuff like painting and sculpture, because ironically, the more the art scene 'redefines its paramenters', the smaller it seems to get in terms of response, pleasure or even interest from art lovers.

Q: So NEAT-O! advocates a retreat to traditionalist forms of expression.

GG: Not if they can make cut-up sharks interesting. Artists can't do art anymore, their job is to "redefine the boundaries of art" or "blur the line between science and art" or whatever. Why does art always have to be about redefining itself?

Q: But isn't that what you want to do?

GG: Come on... "redefining boundaries"? How many times can you repeat the same hackneyed phrase before it becomes the worst cliche of all? NEAT-O! envisions art that people can actually, y'know, enjoy and respond to, not just analyze intellectually. So in that sense, NEAT-O! is revolutionary, not traditionalist.

Q: So NEAT-O! advocates an advance to a child-like, untutored response to art.

GG: NEAT-O! advocates a retreat to art that can make you say: "Neat-o!"

Q: All right, then. Who are some of your influences?

GG: I love Neo-Tiki... the, uh, movement which embraces the suburban Tiki esthetic of the 50s? No?

Q: Never heard of it.

GG: And I like Shag.

Q: Who or what is "Shag"?

GG: The artist from LA, probably the big daddy of the Tiki revival. Certainly it's best known practitioner. And Richey Fahey is great. He "redefines the boundaries of art"... in his own unacceptable way, of course.

Shag - Katz - Fahey

Q: Another California artist?

GG: Why say it like that? "Cali-FORN-ya". Would you say "Oh, she's a Nyew Yo-o-o-ork artist", all twisted around with a weird inflection?

Q: I assure you I have no idea what you're talking about. And could I make the observation that you seem slightly defensive on this subject? I just want to make sure that gets into the record.

GG: I froze my butt off in Manhattan for more than 20 years, but the day I move out here I'm a "California artist". I mean, maybe I am, I dunno - but I'm influenced by Bates, Katz, Philip Guston and the Attican Naxos Kouros from 6th century B.C. Which was definitely not part of the 50s Tiki esthetic. I've shown all over the world but that doesn't matter 'cause if you think art should be approachable, without the mediation of a critical priesthood who keep their iron grip over the Holy Church of High Culture, you must be a backwoods knuckle-dragger who isn't clever enough to appreciate the infinite wonder that is cut-up sharks! Whoops... dropped the microphone.

Q: Why do you keep mentioning "cut-up sharks"?

GG: I mean whatever the prevailing gimmick happens to be. And actually, to me the Naxos Kouros is part of the Tiki esthetic...

Q: But surely you must realize that Damien Hirst has been roundly condemned by the art community as a publicity seeking sensationalist?

GG: You can't blame an artist for doing what they're told to do. The Art World demands sensationalism and then feels guilty about it. Pound's dictum "Make It New" has come back to bite us on the ass, but good! The illusion of constant 'Newness' is a tired, flaccid concept now, but it just keeps driving the goodole art establishment. You don't splash by being good, interesting or "new" in a way they can't accept - you have to hit 'em over the head with newness. You have to start cuttin' up the sharks.

Q: So the NEAT-O! movement essentially rejects the foundations of 21st century art culture entirely.

GG: NEAT-O! doesn't reject anything, NEAT-O! asks that people believe their own eyes about visual art. You know, trust their own minds, go with their own feelings.

Q: Truly a revolutionary concept. Aren't people free to do that anyway?

GG: Technically. Maybe.

Bates - Guston - Kouros

Q: By the way, how many followers does NEAT-O! have?

GG: Um... it's not really about numbers at this point.

Q: Has it got any followers?

GG: Sure, I get emails. I got a Christmas card last year.

Q: I must tell you, I ┬ęGoogled "Neato" and got over 19 thousand responses, but I couldn't find your so-called movement in there anywhere.

GG: How far did you look?

Q: I gave up after 16 pages.

GG: Maybe I should change the name. What if I called it "Uni-brow"?

Q: And, to put it bluntly, aren't you a bit "past it" to be starting a new art movement?

GG: Hey... art is timeless. That's kind of insulting, man.

Q: Sorry, I just don't understand why a talented artist should waste his time founding bogus art movements - especially at your advanced, uh, stage of development. You ought to be out there doing your work!

GG: ...you like my stuff?

Q: I think some of your work is terrific.

GG: Well, thanks.

Q: Your redactive utilization of negative space is extremely intuitive - both in the literal and emotional sense.

GG: Hey, can I put that on the website?

Q: Just kidding.

GG: I knew that. (I still might wanna use it though.)

Q: Well, it's been great. Thank you ever so much for filling us in on NEAT-O!... the newest movement sweeping the Art World!

GG: (calling after) Hey, wait! I feel like this may not have been a completely unbiased interview. I just want to make sure that gets into the record!

A cut-up shark


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