Making Pictures was something he liked to do, Making Pictures on ‘cardboard’, which is how he referred to any piece of paper. At first he would just take whatever he could find, his chest pockets of the button-down shirts bulging with scraps. Later on he realized we would give him all the paper he wanted, so in awe we were of his talent that it was honor to be chosen to be asked by him.

Greg Tumbusch was a client at Transitions for Tomorrow, and participated in DDSO’s Reach In program for about four years, a program designed to bring the arts to DDSO’s populations with severe/profound disabilities. The images in his portfolio are a chronicle of his 4-year time in the Reach In program, up until he passed away. We don’t know much about his personal life, except he came from a very big family and was very much loved by them. Physically he looked liked the kind of guy who could fix a computer or balance your checkbook, with his large wire frame glasses and a receding hairline framing his face. He had a purposeful gait and liked to tease the ladies. He stopped coming to program when he got ill around 2008, and passed away a few months later.

His talent did not need any coaxing; he was always at the ready. He liked to look at maps, cityscapes, and any old art book that was around. His compartmentalization of the canvas into many colorful geometric shapes has an architectural feel and gives his works a lively rhythm. In “Clocktower With Guardians”, an early work, the space is divided by an overlaying grid, ominous black stick figures hover over an aggressive red door. More evident gridding is captured in “The White House”, in which colors and shapes are stitched together to house spidery inhabitants.

Some of his takes on the masters are so magnificently incongruous that his arrangements become the superior works, at least in their sheer boldness. His lines are never hesitant; there is no need for a pencil or an eraser. His “Princess of the Este Family”, based on the Renaissance painting by Pisanello, solves the problem of showing a woman in profile by conveniently giving her a second eye in the middle of her hair. Her period-style dress is stripped down to the basics, but recognizable. In Picasso Greg has found a kindred spirit, but he always does him one better. In “Crying Woman”, boulders fall out of her eyes like an avalanche; in “The Dream”, he attacks the spatial dilemma of fitting his subject in the limited space of the canvas by attaching her head sideways. He perfectly captures the feeling of a woman in repose, from the slight smile on her lips to her folding hands. He has given each work precisely what it needed.

Picasso would have approved.

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