Constantine's Poetic Licenses Opens at Several Galleries
Artist Greg Constantine has several current and upcoming exhibits of his “Poetic Licenses” taking place across Michigan, Chicago and New York during the months of August, September and October. Constantine’s new work, “Poetic Licenses,” is text art presented in the format of automobile vanity license plates. The license plate format is that of utilitarian objects transformed into functional objects wearing the mantle of “high art.” They open another territory in the development of Text Art.
“Poetic Licenses” is an artistic extension of the “Artist Licenses” works Constantine created and exhibited in New York, Chicago, Long Beach, Miami and Paris in 1981 and subsequent years. The term Poetic Licenses is a play on words, and most viewers, when confronted by these groupings, will at first see a random juxtaposition of weathered automobile plates from various countries and states. They refer to the phenomenon of ubiquitous so-called “vanity” plates, with the exception that these have been joined together to form full statements. For example, Picasso’s “Poetic License” states, “WHEN I HAVEN’T ANY BLUE, I USE RED,” and Warhol’s says, “IN THE FUTURE EVERYBODY WILL BE FAMOUS FOR 15 MINUTES.” While at first glance it may appear Constantine has simply collected old, rusted license plates to create this text art, he actually fabricates, paints and rusticates the pieces himself. Each plate is rendered as a convincing entity.
In June, the MA Doran Gallery in Tulsa, Okla., exhibited one of his Poetic Licenses, a statement quoted from Salvador Dali. Along with having several “Poetic Licenses” presently being exhibited at the Dry Dock gallery in Holland, Mich. and the Armstrong-DeGraaf gallery in Saugatuck, Mich., the Ann Nathan Gallery in Chicago's River North district is also exhibiting several Poetic Licenses along with a very large major work titled “USA Poetic Licenses” which will be shown in Grand Rapids, Mich. during the Art Prize International Competition Sept. 17–Oct. 7, 2012. As the major climactic event in this series of venues Constantine will have approximately 18 “Poetic Licenses” shown at the renowned OK Harris Works of Art Gallery in New York City beginning Sept. 15–Oct. 20, 2012. Beginning in November, another work of “Poetic Licenses” will be included in a two-year-long traveling exhibit entitled “Scribes of Hope” sponsored by CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts).
Constantine is presently research professor of art, emeritus, at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich. He came to Michigan in 1955 from his home in Windsor, Canada, to pursue his Bachelor of Arts, graduating in 1960 but returning in 1963 to begin teaching drawing, painting and art history. During his time at Andrews, he also received his Master of Fine Arts in painting from Michigan State University in 1968. His work has been exhibited in national and international galleries for more than 40 years. Since 1975, Constantine has had 54 one-man shows, as well as being part of 60 group shows. He has had six books published, including When Big Artists Were Little Kids, Picasso Visits Chicago and Vincent van Gogh Visits New York. Even after teaching for 43 years, Constantine could not stay away after his retirement in 2006. He continues to be active in the Andrews University Department of Visual Art & Design where his studio is located and to create new works of art. He is represented by OK Harris Works of Art in New York City; Ann Nathan gallery in Chicago, Ill.; and Armstrong-DeGraaf gallery in Saugatuck, Mich.