Art and the City

Artist Profile: Tom Greaves

1979, acrylic on linen  32" x 44"

Animals. Dogs, birds, horses, cats… They often show up in a Tom Greaves painting, but like the painting itself, they exist in that shadowy realm between civilization and wild—between best friend and the kind of animal presence that has you looking over your shoulder once in a while. It’s the same with his people.

Most of his work occupies that same dreamlike territory between comfortable and mysteriously threatening—like life itself. And like life, they are multilayered with meanings and interpretations.

He often begins with a photomontage—a collection of images, some photographs, some drawn. They can overlap, or come together in unexpected and startling ways. He doesn’t always know what they mean; they ask questions but there is no right answer. From that montage he begins the painting, usually in acrylic.

They sometimes morph into multi-media as “Photoconstructions.” Not only do you see the ordinary in unexpected—extraordinary—ways, the conjoined images, photographs and drawings project a new range of ideas. But like the paintings, his artistry ultimately dominates—color, composition, and his provocative use of line as a cryptic message combine in the finished artwork.

Originally from Canton, Ohio, Tom graduated with a degree in design from the Art Institute of Pittsburg.  He worked in a design studio for years before committing to painting professionally. He believes it is through that timeless tradition that he can make a contribution—maybe not earthshaking changes, but “modest, small increments” in making life a little more joyous.

You can view his work on Saturdays at the historic Eastern Market, 7th St. SE on Capitol Hill and at


Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art

Tom Greaves [See: Artist Profile] has two central goals as an artist. He wants to be respected by other artists, and he wants his art to make a contribution to the world—to the condition of life…maybe offset in some small incremental way the evil that boils and erupts and threatens to consume the foundations of civilization.

There are hundreds of artists in the Capitol Hill community and thousands in the expanded DC area who share those goals.  While Tom consciously occupies and explores the DMZ of nature—that squiggly interface of good and evil—most artists weigh in on the pretty/happy side of the equation. There are a few who dare to take on the dark side—confront evil eyeball-to-eyeball—but all fight to keep the brightness of creativity in our lives.

In all its forms, it is art that makes us human. And it is art that connects and collectively reaches for the ideal: the best that our incredible minds can accomplish. It is not surprising that those who want to conquer and control the world around them begin by destroying art. Art is the enemy of ignorance, hatred and subject compliance.

So now, as a new wave of fear and danger spreads in all directions, even threatening us, we can reach for the light and support the artists, the ones who are compelled to create while others destroy—this holiday season more than ever. I’m listing some of the places on Capitol Hill where you can find and buy art to own, and to give: Eastern Market, Capitol Hill Art League, The Hill Center, the Corner Store, and at art galleries all over the area. And, for another week, you can find fun things for anyone at Artomatic. [See: At the Galleries].

Have a great holiday season and a happy new year.


At the Galleries:

Hill Center Galleries
Old Naval Hospital
921 Penn. Ave. SE
- Jan. 2
The Hill Center reaches for the holidays with a seven-artist show:
M. Alexander Gray captures the fine arts tradition of printmaking—woodcuts, relief engraving and copper engraving—with keenly observed and expressed images of places with historical references, and scenes from personal experiences.
Barbara Brennan’s seemingly straightforward paintings of familiar places and things take you to another depth through color complexities.
Noah Williams gathers stuff we all toss away—bottle caps, nails, car parts, etc., and makes art—sculptures.  His masks are powerful, imaginative and have an environmental up-side.
Gwendolyn Aqui-Brooks brings you into a world of wonder and wondrous color. Stories are told with fantasy and mystery.
Paula Cleggett’s striking oils are strong on graphic composition and intense coloration—like frozen moments in time.
Carol Reed’s predominantly black and white compositions reach for your intellect as well as your eye. They are a search for logic among apparent truths and reclusive impressions.
Kasse Andrews-Weller’s ceramic “paintings” are playful, but seriously capture the sense of a place and time.
Adult Student Exhibit
Capitol Hill Art League
545 7th St. SE
Dec. 9 - Jan 5
Opening: Sat, Dec. 12, 5-7.
You have a few days to pick up great little presents for holiday gifts at the CHAL annual Small Works show, juried from its artist members. If you miss that, the Adult Student exhibit opens on Sat. Dec. 12, 5-7.  You’ll find a very wide range of subjects and styles, excellently done in both shows., or
Jan Kern
The Corner Store
900 South Carolina Ave., SE
Dec 12 - Jan 9
Opening: Sat., Dec. 12, 6-9
Jan Kern paints the symbols, ideas and structures of life. Her collaged paintings vibrate with pure geometrically aligned color contrasts and patterns, and connect with cultures around the world, both modern and ancient…an expedition through time…with a personal perspective and heartbeat.
Dana Ellen
P Street Gallerie
3235 P St. NW
- Dec 4
The title of the exhibit is “Speciesism.” The question is: Why do we cherish some animals and eat others? Dana loves to make us uncomfortable with challenges to our often-unquestioned social mores and manners. Her paintings, in her famous in-your-face-style, make the answers a little more difficult to swallow. If you are in Georgetown in the next couple of days, drop in and pick one up.  Or you can buy anytime through:
Jay Peterzell     
Foundry Gallery
2118 - 8th St. N.W.
Dec 2 - Jan 3
Opening: Sat., Dec. 5th, 5 - 8 pm
Jay Peterzell came back from Italy intent on painting in a way that retains his recent approaches and techniques, but captures the psychological density from classical sources of Renaissance art.  This series of paintings and drawings is his second solo exhibit in Washington.
ARTomatic 2015
8100 Corporate Drive 
Hyattsville, MD
– Dec. 12
You still have a week to take in Artomatic. It has always been a wildly unpredictable and audacious visual encounter and this year is no exception. It is one big circus of art, performance, film and music from high-end pros to the wild imaginings of first-time exhibitors and players…and it’s free. This year it’s in PG County in a 90,000 sq. ft. space just inside the beltway, off Rte. 50. Just a few blocks from the New Carrolton Metro stop.
Firelane, acrylic on linen 32"x 44"
Gusty, acrylic on linen 32"x 44"

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