Gregory Sale, 44, has made all sorts of art. He's done performance pieces, he's worked in fabric, paint, wood, found objects, epoxy resin, you name it. He works out of a studio in his downtown Phoenix home. He's also the visual arts director at the Arizona Arts Commission, where he'll be one of the people designing the new state quarter, a little piece of monetary art soon to be in everybody's pocket.
But first, a penny for his thoughts. Sale explores romantic love in his latest series of work, in which he paints oversize snippets of text relating stories from his life. In one, he tells of the moments preceding his partner's death as a result of AIDS. In another, he relates an old family story about a hermaphrodite relative's love affair gone bad. They're like novelists' manuscripts, four feet tall and written in paint.
Why typography jazzes him: I'm interested in the spacing of the letters. It's a little bit like a crossword puzzle. . . . My partner who passed away, who I wrote about, he was a graphic designer. So I certainly had a chunk of time when I lived with it. I've been exposed to it a lot.
If you want to be noticed, paint your story instead of writing it. We have text all around. It's everywhere. We drive down the street and we just kind of block it out. It's like white noise. I'm trying to find a way to rejuvenate it somehow.
He's not staring into space. He's making art. Because my text pieces are based on story, on thoughts, I can be working on that in my head. My studio is in my head.
Why some of the words in the finished paintings of text are crossed out: I wanted to keep [the text snippet] alive. This wasn't just a copy I came up with, it's still an active thing. Plus, after I got it this big, I realized it could be further edited.
Yes, it really is all about me: If I'm going to really look at the topic of love, let me go inside. Let me look at Gregoryland. What have been some of Gregory's journeys?
Hail, Mary: This is a watercolor stain [in the painting Walking Through Water]. It's thinned with holy water.
Use your time wisely. One of the ways I've maintained my creativity while I've had a full-time job is I can't plan these huge sculptural projects because I just don't have the time. But I can sit down at my office/studio/desk and draw or paint for an hour. That way you don't need all of Saturday to make art. A lot of little moments add up to a larger block of time.
Master, schmaster: I like tossing myself into something I don't really have mastery of. I can grab a mistake and follow it, and see what it tells me. It adds realness. There's possibility there.
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