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Work Samples


About Greg

Baltimore City

Greg McLemore is both an artist and art educator. He has been living in Baltimore City for about 15 years now, though he is originally from North Carolina. His art employs the idea of Magical Realism as a starting point to explore the tragic, mysterious, and often comical aspects of life. His work ranges from elaborately detailed urban landscapes to fantastical, surreal narratives.  Greg earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree at The University of Arizona and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree at The... more

Baltimore Ruins

The Baltimore Ruins paintings are highly detailed paintings of the city's crumbling and in some cases, razed, structures. I aspire to reflect the deep, dark, gritty nature of the city, as is reflected in its architecture. Inferences to the human psyche are enmeshed in each gash, hole, and sloppy patch.
In the most recent paintings of this series, such as "A War of Words" and "Mixed Messages" I am working substantially with how the structure of buildings is at odds with the graffitti and tags that are all over it. In many cases, the flat, graffitti and tags set up a classic artistic "color versus value" battle.
This series started around 2011, and continues to this day. I usually complete 2 or 3 of these paintings a year.

On the Stoop

The On the Stoop Series, made with ink wash and pen, started as a tongue in cheek exploration
of stoop culture in Baltimore. City folks of all stripes enjoy sitting out on their front steps and
watching the world go by. As the series develops, I am seeing interesting political and social
overtones evolve in the work. Some of this is about my relationship to the city, and some delves
into our specific social issues, both in the local and the international arena. I hope that a darkly
comical feeling is evoked, with references to the satirical work of the English artist, William
Hogarth and the fantastical imagery of the French illustrator, Gustave Dore.

Nagasaki, Japan

This group of paintings started in about 2013, and is an ongoing series, rooted in the architecture and people of Nagasaki, Japan. I realize that Nagasaki is most well known to the US as one of the two cities on which atomic bombs were dropped. I am purposefully choosing to show other aspects of the city. Having a wife from Nagasaki, and spending significant time there myself, I know that the city is much more than this horrible episode. I hope to describe the unique texture of the city. Despite the bombing, it is well known in Japan as a historically rich city. Some of these paintings are about me understanding the city and my little place in it. They are densely layered paintings, and in person, very luminous.
Though Japan certainly has the historic architecture it is so well known for, it also has some blocky, concrete architecture of the 60s and 70s as well as plenty of Art Deco. This more common architecture is what sets the stage for the Magical Realism I paint. As the series progresses, I am increasing the amount of odd, slightly unlikely events occurring within the narratives. Animals and figures are becoming a more important part of the work, though they still inhabit and are informed by the surrounding architecture.

Minor Gods

This painting was inspired by an very old sculpture in a shrine in Nagasaki, Japan. The mystery and serenity of the creature inspired me to dig deeper, exploring the spirit within the ancient stone.

Fantasy, Surreal, and Subterfuge 2015-18

This group of paintings is a collection of work that floats between conscious and unconscious thoughts and urges. They are meant to investigate ideas of personal transformation, identity, subversive behavior, and the individual’s place in society.
While this work may nod toward illustration and fantasy, it is also very much influenced by Renaissance and Mannerist painting. Some of the images combine elements of Western religious iconography with symbols and figures from Japan. This combination of cultures and symbols is, in many ways, a description of my current life. In broader language, the mixture of icons is a reaction to the direction of our more globalized world.

The Mysteries of Baltimore

For this series of paintings, I've been working with Baltimore's architecture, people, and animals, to develop stories with allegorical overtones. They are based around people's ability to find beauty and wonder among be-devilingly difficult circumstances. In Mysteries of Baltimore IV (Unexpected Windfall), a hungry fox unexpectedly comes upon a group of chickens. The fox has come upon an unexpected windfall, a winning lottery ticket. A dream countless people in Baltimore share. Somehow, good luck will come their way, and deliver them from their dire situation. In Mysteries of Baltimore II, Young Zonnen finds beauty (the Easter Bunny and a golden egg) among the ruins of the city. Again, an example of hope and aspiration in the midst of despair and decay. Most of these Mysteries contain some sort of moral or ambition, though this kind of aspirational thinking might more easily fit in a dream, nightmare, or dystopian future.

Sketchbook Paintings

This group of paintings started in my sketchbook, and are meant to imitate the feeling and immediacy of sketchbook drawing and painting. The imagery is from parks, hospitals, baseball fields, and other places I have visited while in Nagasaki, Japan. I simply sit and draw what I see, for a limited time, then move to what comes next. I try and keep the sketches moving at the same speed as my perception and experience of the area. These sketches, and eventually paintings, helped me to experience what it meant to spend time in Nagasaki. They are not completely direct observational paintings, as some of my other work is- but are observations combined with interpretation and imagination.
These were all sketched in Japan, but brought back to Baltimore where they were made into paintings. I have simply drawn them much larger, on canvas, and painted them. I work quickly and instinctively with the paint, forcing a resolution, usually within a few days.

This last summer (2019) I made a brand new sketchbook in Japan, so have big plans to develop this series more.

The Creative Class

This is from an ongoing series of psychological portraits. So far I have worked with friends, either married or engaged, and their pets. It is important that I understand and explore my sitters personal symbolism, and include it, as much as possible, in the narrative. So far the process of seeing and developing each person's symbolic personae, and how the two sitters engage with each other and me, has been very interesting.
As an artist, it's no surprise that most of my friends are also artists, of one form or another. In some cases, I have worked to incorporate some of what they do/ make into their painting. In others I focus more on trying to find symbols that most accurately capture their beliefs and aesthetic ideas.

Strange Little Summer Watercolors

These watercolor paintings were all made at a breakneck speed in the summer of 2015. I made about fifty that sumer- some were much better than others. I used fashion models, animals, and other figure models as a stepping off point to explore the strange recesses of my mind. I drew all of them upside down, hence somewhat abstract- focusing on allowing my subconscious to work its way into the process.

Fantasy, Surreal, and Subterfuge, 2006-2014

This is a small selection of earlier works that form the backbone of my artistic practice. They were made between 2006 and 2014. I have always been enamored with dream logic, animal/ human hybrids, tragic comedy, social misfits, and the complexity of expressing sexuality.
Some of these paintings are about dysfunctional family life. Others lean toward historic mythology and allegory. A couple of them technically belong in my Baltimore Ruins series, but fit more thematically into this group.