The Integrity of the Intimate
By C.S. Burke
There are 49 worn wooden stairs that lead up from the gray metal door on Leonard Street in Lower Manhattan to Joanne Greenbaum’s third story loft, and she has climbed them multiple times a day, nearly every day, for the past 27 years. “Especially with the dog,” she says, nodding at Tino, her grizzled black-and-white Chihuahua, held fondly in the crook of her arm. The staircase runs diagonally the length and height of the building, with a landing at each of the four floors. A path of slow, steady, direct ascension, it ends at a rear window, high in the upper back corner, that provides the only light.
Ms. Greenbaum is no stranger to slow, steady ascents. She graduated from Bard College in 1975 and worked a nine-to-five career for decades in order to support herself as an artist. Even after she earned representation with the Rachel Uffner Gallery in New York and other galleries elsewhere, it was years before she finally decided to devote herself to painting, sculpting and drawing full-time. And it was still a move that carried some risk. The risk paid off, and Greenbaum can now set the terms of her work.
The years she spent developing her style outside the pressures of the limelight means she feels no pressure to change now that the limelight has come to her. She maintains a distance from the mainstream that enables her interactions with various mediums to remain intimate and her work to grow organically…