No Other Puzzle Will Do: Greg Minah and the Gertrude Stein Questionnaire

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Greg Minah is a full-time Baltimore artist who graduated from UMCP with degrees in English Literature and Studio Art in 2001. Over the last 5 or so years, he has developed a unique method of painting that involves pouring, spinning and removing partially-dried layers of acrylic paint (You can watch a short video about this process here: . In recent years, he has been a finalist for both the Trawick Prize and the Bethesda Painting Awards and was awarded the highest Individual Artist Award for Painting from the Maryland State Arts Council in 2010. Currently, Minah’s work can be seen in the season-opening exhibit at Gallery Plan B in Washington, DC and later this fall in the 2nd Biennial Maryland Regional Exhibition (BMRE) at UMUC.

Name: Greg Minah
Age: 35
Occupation: Full-time artist
Baltimore Neighborhood: Mount Vernon

Obsessive Collections: My wife and I like to get cheesy gift shop magnets to commemorate trips we’ve taken together. I also have quite a few books on artists’ studios. Oh, and lots of empty gesso buckets, too, which I was finally able to use during Sandy last year when our apartment leaked like a sieve.

Currently Reading: Just finished American Gods by Neil Gaiman so currently I’m back to the growing stack of New Yorker Magazines…

Coolest Place You’ve Ever Lived or Traveled To: Joshua Tree, CA. During an artist residency in 2008, I lived by myself in a house on 10 acres of land that backed up against Joshua Tree National Park. I was left alone for 6 weeks to paint and explore the beautiful and bizarre landscape out there–the Salton Sea area (including Slab City) is one of the weirdest places I’ve ever been, in a good way. Pompeii and Kauai are also among the the coolest places I’ve traveled to.

Hobbies or Leisure Activities: I don’t always do crossword puzzles but when I do, they are New York Times crossword puzzles. I’m a big fan of Puzzlemaster Will Shortz, the editor. No other puzzle will do.

Favorite Food to Eat at Home: I approach every effort in the kitchen like an episode of MacGyver.

Favorite Food to Eat Out: Mustard Shrimp and Palak Paneer from Akbars, or sushi from Minato, or pizza from almost anywhere.

Favorite Beverage of Choice: Coffee. James from Tribeca Coffee Roasters recently convinced me to get my own grinder and it’s been well worth it.

Political Leanings: I’m for almost anyone who is for women and for LGBT rights, the rest I have to ask my wife about.

Favorite Baltimore spot to hang out: For mental escape: Fort McHenry. For drinking beer: Mount Royal Tavern. For drinking good beer: Liams.

Pets: Lucy, unemployed cat.

Favorite Artist, Living or Dead: If forced to pick one, I’d say Cy Twombly. Especially the room devoted to him at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Some other notables for me: Gerhard Richter, Mark Rothko (I take all my titles from his book The Artist’s Reality) Morris Louis, and Charles Burchfield (something about his colors has held my interest lately–even though it’s nothing like my own)

Movie that Sums Up the Current State of Your Life: Castaway. We just got rid of cable TV so I assume that I’ll start talking to volleyballs any day now.

Favorite Bad Habit: Up until 3 years ago it would have been smoking cigarettes. But since I quit, my favorite bad habit would probably the sanctimonious attitude I have when walking through clouds of other people’s sweet, sweet smoke.

Mantra or Favorite Quote: “Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work.” Chuck Close. This sounds harsh but I have found that any progress or change or growth in my work has come when I’ve already been in motion. I’m not opposed to inspiration, I just don’t wait around for it.

Image: other sensations, 42 inches (diameter), acrylic on canvas, 2013

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* The Gertrude Stein Questionnaire began as an idea for the Urbanite Magazine’s Arts and Culture E-zines written by Cara Ober from 2009-2012. Like Vanity Fair’s ‘Proust Questionnaire,’ the questions always remain the same, and are roughly inspired from the life and experiences of Gertrude Stein, a visionary writer and art collector who spent her formative years in Baltimore. Stein lived in Baltimore from 1891 – 1902, where she studied medicine at Johns Hopkins and befriended Etta and Claribel Cone, (donors of the Cone Collection at the BMA) after regularly attending their Saturday night Salon series.

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