The Green Man is a self-portrait of my father from the early 1960s. Waxy green complexion against a red background, boxy black eye glass frames, that bleak, beady stare and thin, asymmetrical mouth. Good old Dad. As I child I considered it a good likeness; he did turn green when he was angry, maybe not that green, but it could happen.
Later it was a cool painting. One I hung with pride in dorm rooms and shared apartments. That’s my Dad, I would say and my roommates would shrug.
Now I see other things in that mottled green face. Isolation. Distance. Fear. Otherness. Stubborn resilience. Some pretty fierce eyebrows. My same square jaw.
My father was a chameleon. Or so I imagined as a child. Mild mannered public school art teacher by day, reclusive artist by night—a creative superhero. Despite a seeming disinterest in any kind of public recognition or acknowledgement, he painted and sculpted, he made things. He never talked about it, or much else. So far as I know, he never asked or cared what anyone thought. Nor did he ever stop making art. It was magic. Enduring magic.
The Green Man has become psychic shorthand for a lot of things, the endurance of the creative spirit, the quest for meaning and purpose, timelessness and universality through story and art. Finding the Green Man is a place for diverse and sundry posts about the creative impulse and process, its ebb and flow, fits and starts, also butter cookies, quality caramels and the occasional rant.
“This tremendous world I have inside of me. How to free myself, and this world, without tearing myself to pieces. And rather tear myself to a thousand pieces than be buried with this world within me.” - Franz Kafka, Diaries of Franz Kafka
Mild mannered public school art teacher by day, reclusive artist by night—a creative SUPERHERO