An interview with Leontine Greenberg

Leontine at work in her NY studio

Leontine Greenberg grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and now lives in Jackson Heights, Queens with her husband, daughter and two cats. Her favorite cities are Barcelona, Hong Kong, and New York. Her favorite foods are Pad Thai and mayonnaise sandwiches. She does not always eat her vegetables. She is inspired by other people’s photographs, old boats, city rooftops, the coming environmental apocalypse and Beatrix Potter.

Leontine Greenberg 'Devourer' - watercolor, gouache and pencil on paper (2011)

Can you share a lil’ bit about the themes behind your new body of work for ‘Specimens’?

The first drawings I did for Specimens were the ones of the birds dressed up in ridiculous giant paper mache heads. They’re obviously trying to be something they’re not, but I don’t know who they think they’re fooling. I’d just gotten back to NYC from Los Angeles when I started drawing them, so I suspect I was reacting to the general aura of artifice and theatricality that permeates your town. (And that’s a good thing! Artifice and theatricality are awesome.)

The other works in the show are based on ideas about technology and nature that I’ve touched on in a lot of my previous work.

Work in progress for 'Specimens'

What does the crow / black bird symbolize to you in your works?

The birds are meant to be the viewpoint character, the everyman. You’re the bird; I’m the bird…and whatever’s going on in the world, there are probably some little birds watching it happen. Next time you’re outside, look around. You’ll probably find a bird within 20 seconds.

What fuels you to keep creating?

I can’t help it, basically. If I go too long without making something, I start arranging the crumbs on the table into pictures.

Leontine Greenberg 'Her' - watercolor, gouache, and pencil on paper (2011)

Please describe your dream project if time and money were not issues.

More paintings! Bigger paintings! A children’s book and a comic book. If I had infinite time, infinite money and an army of helpful clones, I’d make an animated film.

Favorite item in your studio?

My studio is my apartment, so my favorite thing in it is my family. When they’re not around, it’s my Zebra .5mm mechanical pencil and HB leads. Or my cats.

Work in progress for 'Specimens'

Is there anyone in particular, artist or otherwise, that you’d like to give a shout out to here?

My friend Ahn Behrens who ran Cooper Gallery in Jersey City–the first gallery I ever showed at–and who died in 2007. I wish she could see what’s happening now in the lowbrow art world, particularly the great work that’s being shown by female artists. She’d love it.

Any shows or special projects coming up after your exhibit with us here at Thinkspace you would like to mention?

I have a show with Lou Pimentel coming up at myplasticheart in New York and another solo with Gallery1988 in LA.

Leontine Greenberg 'Incognito' - watercolor, gouache, and pencil on paper (2011)

Artist website:

Take a ‘Sneak Peek’ at the works for ’Specimens’ coming together here:

Reception with the artist: Sat, December 10th 5-8PM in our project room

Exhibit on view: December 10th through December 30th, 2011

Thinkspace / 6009 Washington Blvd. in Culver City, CA /