It’s a strange thing to meet a hero. This past week, I helped my friend and studio mate Lauren Szabo prepare an exhibition of paintings by Gregory Manchess at Arte Verissima Gallery in Oakland. The show is titled “Weightless” and features no less than 14 canvases of Greg’s recent work. Arte Verissima has been a gallery for over a year now, yet Saturday’s opening brought in record numbers of attendees and first timers. The excitement was palpable.
I first came across Greg’s work when I was in high school, sometime around 2005. I remember stumbling across this incredible Conan the Barbarian painting. It blew me away. I remember wondering how it was done and realizing it was painted in oils. I remember I even copied this picture for a school assignment. I was mesmerized.
Later in 2012, I attended the first Spectrum Fantastic Art Live convention in Kansas City, MO and watched Greg paint a demo in person. I had followed his work from that first impression and it was as powerful as ever. I myself had begun oil painting by this point and was still trying to figure out his secret – how he does what he does. There is a virtuosity to his brushwork that is difficult to understand. It turns out, it’s really simple: a TON of hard work and countless hours at the easel. Greg himself attests to this with his famous “talent is an illusion,” theory. I’m not totally swayed by it, but he has a very valid point in that sheer effort counts for a lot more than people generally think.
After watching that demo, I finally met Greg in person at a memorial for the artist David Grove in San Francisco. I found him to be humble, generous person. Later, I told my studio mate Lauren Szabo how excited I was to finally meet him and this piqued her interest. She looked up his work and realized he would be a perfect fit for the high bar of realism that Arte Verissima specializes in.
In 2014 at the third Spectrum convention, Lauren came along to attend the convention and lend a helping hand with my booth. She arranged for an interview with Greg and asked if he’d like to have a solo show at Arte Verissima. And the rest, as they say… is history.
The show remains on display until March 8. Arte Verissima is open Friday through Sunday, 12pm-6pm and by appointment. If you’re in the area, don’t miss it!