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Artists in their own words: Tony Green

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Tony Green (Photos by: Raffaella Toso)

Who: Tony Green
What: Painter and musician
Where: Venice, Italy
Connection to New Orleans: He was conceived in Venice, born in Naples, Italy (at a very early age) and raised in New Orleans on the historic West Bank.

Q: When do instincts steer you in the wrong direction?
TG: I am steered in the wrong direction when I’m influenced by negative forces. In moments of weakness, if I don’t listen to my true intuition, that’s usually when I get into some sort of malaise or trouble. That can lead to indecisiveness which usually results in a wrong decision. But a mistake can be such a gift because from those “wrong” decisions--if we have the courage to examine the problem--we can learn so much. For example, I learn a lot from bad paintings. Bad paintings can demonstrate what happens if you don’t create a good composition, if you don’t take enough time to get the drawing correct, or if you have a dirty palette when you’re mixing your colors.

I’m a work in progress trying to find out who I am NOT. I was born with a name, a race, a religion, a nationality, and then I was told, ‘This is impossible but that is possible. These are the good guys but those are the bad guys.’ Then I was sent off to school where I was forced to memorize and repeat, memorize and repeat, memorize and repeat. After that whole, awful experience, I rarely had my own original thoughts! I was trained to look at life through the proverbial straw.

In these last twenty years I’ve become more of an awake and aware citizen. I am getting better at seeing the Truth and when you see more of the Truth, you also begin to see the lies. And when you start seeing the lies then you become a very dangerous person!

I believe in the hive mind of humanity in that we are all connected. There was a time when humans all communicated telepathically. Now we’ve been programmed by the dark forces to look at what makes us different instead of what makes us the same. That is one of the many Archon tools used to divide and conquer humanity. The beautiful thing is that there is a Human Renaissance happening right now where people are beginning to wake up to who they are NOT!  We are moving away from the programming of the five senses and instead moving towards the heart, our portal to the universe.

Q: How do you deal with long hold times or waiting?
TG: I choose not to live in a world of “hold times”! [Laughing]. I’m not that kind of person. This goes back to the five senses versus consciousness. If you look at babies for example, or dogs, cats, etc. are they ever bored? No! If you put a baby on hold, it finds something to be amazed by. Those little kids are windows to heaven. But then they get sent away for an “education” [laughing] where they are ruined!

One of the great things about being a painter is that I am drawing all the time. And I don’t have to have a pencil to draw! I can draw with my mind. So if I have to wait, it’s a good thing as I’ll figure out a way to make the time productive. It’s about being in the moment. That’s what counts.

The one thing that’s really important to me is being grateful for all the wonderful things that I have in my life.  I woke up this morning! YAAAAY! Everything else if gravy. Count your blessings!

Q: What stranger do you remember?
TG: [Laughing]. I’d have to really think about that one. Well, I tell you what...there are a lot of strange women that I’ve encountered in my life that still stick in my mind, but we’ll just leave it at that!

Q: Tell me a story that involves a canal.
TG: There was a canal close to my house that was a big part of my childhood. I was raised on Shirley Drive which is in Algiers. It’s the street that connects Gen DeGaulle Dr. with what used to be the old Algiers Naval Station. About four houses down from my house was the Magellan Canal which a typical New Orleans drainage ditch that was filled with all kind of critters.

I was lucky because my house backed up to an immense, thick jungle. We had tree houses, caught snakes, we’d make these trails while developing these incredible cases of poison ivy. We’d climb way up in the trees and make rope swings making death-defying jumps. Man we loved it! But down by the Magellan Canal was where all the real action was. There were these little colorful minnows, exotic birds, water moccasins, crawfish and tons of turtles of all sizes.

I had this things for turtles. For so much of my life I had dreams about those creatures. I would always go down to the Magellan Canal and catch the little fellas with my net and bring them home as pets. Unfortunately now they’ve cemented the canal, put a baseball stadium in what once the glorious woods and all the turtles have gone.

I guess I should have a Venetian canal story. I haven’t fallen in one yet! I did spend a wonderful time one year during the Regata Storica  which is something like a floating Mardi Gras parade that has a 500 year tradition in Venice. The festival culminates in the great gondola race down the Grand Canal.  They row from one end of the Grand Canal to the other, turn around and then row back to the finish line while people cheer from the windows of the massive Venetian palazzos that adorn the Grand Canal. And for the gondoliers that come in first, well they have the bad ass bragging rights until the next Regata Storica!

A buddy of mine that lives in my building is the only Polish gondolier in the world. One year paddled me  and my lady friend around the Regata Storica which later inspired so many of the paintings that I did of this spectacular Venetian event.

Q: When do you remember first acknowledging your artistic skill?
TG: I’ve always done art. As a child in school, I was the go-to guy to do the Mardi Gras decorations, pep rally banners and Holiday motifs. I was always drawing all over my books. It was a natural thing. Ironically what helped it along was that my parents didn’t push it at all. That made me feel like it must be good!

My dad, who was such a great guy, did 35 years of service to his country in the military, and his mantra to me was ‘Get a job! Get a haircut!’ I didn’t do either. I was a long haired power rocker back then with a wall of amplifiers.  When our band plugged in all the electricity in the neighborhood was drained for a two mile radius!

I have to dig through tons of grey matter to try and find the first time I realized that I had artistic skills. It was more of an evolution for me. I didn’t have an “ah-ha” moment per se. That evolution is still happening. This winter I have been creating a series of these large watercolor still lifes. It’s a real winter here in Italy: nice and cold, stormy and gray! During this period I’m able to incubate and get a healthy body of  work done in my studio. Then when spring hits Boom! I’m ready to grab my easel, head outside and do some landscape paintings of the Venetian canals and palazzos.

We all tend to focus on our strengths and avoid our weaknesses. I feel like we should do the opposite. We should work on our weaknesses and make them our strengths!

But hey, I’ll get that one accomplished in my next life!

Painter and musician, Tony Green is the creator of this year’s French Quarter Fest poster, which will be exhibited all throughout the city during the festival and can be purchased here. To learn more about Tony Green and his work, you can visit his website. TONY GREEN & GYPSY JAZZ will be performing for the French Quarter Festival Sunday, April 9th noon until 1:30pm on the Rouse’s Stage on Royal St and  Saturday April 8th at Dos Jefes Cigar Bar 5535 Tchoupitoulas St. at 10pm. Tony Green can be contacted directly through his website www.tonygreen.net

Kelley Crawford is a professor, writer, mentor, dancer, and constant questioner. If you would like to contact Kelley Crawford, you can email her at kelley@nolavie.com.