Small city life suits artist in residence

Cathy Dobson   From    The Observer

The quiet of the gallery experience is interrupted by a cheerful “hello” as Iaian Greenson, artist in residence, exits his studio to greet a visitor.

Greenson, 37, is an outgoing man, happy when working on canvas with paints, but just as happy to stop to answer questions and discuss the gallery and his work.

“It was my idea to have an artist in residence,” he said. “It’s something new to Sarnia and it makes the gallery a different experience.”

The gallery is owned by Susan Kristjansson who started selling fine art in downtown Sarnia about a month ago.

Kristjansson said she was intrigued by the artist-in-residence concept because it generates discussion about both Greenson’s work as well as the show, which changes monthly.

“I think it’s a novel idea and it is working out well,” she said.

Greenson left his home studio behind and reports to work 11 a.m. -5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

“I paint here nearly every day,” he said. “And I’m glad to talk to people who come in to see the gallery and ask questions.”

He describes his work, inspired by mixed media including video, television and music, as a bold statement with a great deal of bright colour and emotion.

Greenson is self-taught and credits his uncle, a Spanish abstract expressionist, for triggering his love of art and inspiring him to start painting at a very young age.

“I didn’t go to art school but I was fascinated by my uncle, Antonio Gallego. When I was growing up, we went to Spain every year to see him. I’d watch him paint and I wanted that life.”

Greenson said he is anxious to welcome people into his studio, which is a small room off Kristjansson’s main gallery.

“I want my space, my work, to be particularly inviting,” he said. “I want to be asked questions of all kinds and I will try to be as honest as possible without giving away too much of the recipe.”

He came to Sarnia five years ago with his wife and baby son. Previously, Greenson had lived only in metropolitan cities like Toronto where he held annual solo shows and enjoyed the art scene.

But having a baby changed his perspective and he wanted to take time out to be with his growing family.

That meant leaving the city in which he needed to work a retail job to afford the cost of living.

In Sarnia, where the couple had relatives already, Greenson could afford to stay home with his family and paint full-time.

“It was a radical decision,” he conceded. “Thank goodness for the Internet. With the Toronto art scene, you need to be seen. But here, I showed my stuff online and that has opened up all kinds of opportunity.”

Since moving to Sarnia, Greenson has been invited to hold solo shows as far away as New York City, Washington and Los Angeles.

When he met Kristjansson and saw her new fine art gallery at 186 1/2 Christina St., he jumped at a chance to try something new.

Greenson plans to teach art classes to all ages, seven years and older, this summer at the gallery.

He will also create limited edition prints of some of his work for the first time to sell at Art Walk.

For more information, contact Greenson at or call the gallery at 519-491-2444.

Observer Article ID# 2602605

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