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3 By David Greenberger

by Shawn Stone on February 13, 2014


David Greenberger is the visual, musical and spoken-word artist most widely known for the Duplex Planet, a publication featuring thought-provoking, funny, poignant and confounding conversations with elderly nursing home residents. He has also done everything from collaborating with Robyn Hitchcock and other great musicians to writing scripts for Adult Swim to providing reviews for NPR and this newspaper. Greenberger is currently the subject of three exhibits in Saratoga Springs.

Two of these are at Skidmore’s Tang Teaching Museum and Gallery, and the third is at the Spring Street Gallery. Reached by telephone, Greenberger explains that “Maureen [Sager] at Spring Street had wanted to do something of mine, and, separately, the Tang wanted to do something with me.”

The shows at the Tang involve music and performance. Elevator Music 26: David Greenberger: one updown is part of the long-running series of just that: “elevator music.”

“This features 132 short pieces of mine,” Greenberger says. All of the works feature him in collaboration with a variety of musicians, setting fragments of conversations with elderly people to music. “I went with all pieces that were short, on a continuous 3 or 4 hour loop.”

“They’re in chronological order,” he says, because he didn’t want to impose a narrative on the various conversations.

The second show is One Upon, which “transforms the Tang’s mezzanine into an intimate theater space where one audience member at a time listens to a two-minute live performance by Greenberger and his band, A Strong Dog [Greenberger, Kevin Maul and Mitch Throop].”

“I’m drawn to it in part because I don’t know what it will be like,” Greenberger says. “The material has its beginning with me talking with one person, and, here, it will be presented to just one person.”

There is also supposed to be “a subtle contrast between the elevator and the theater,” Greenberger says. The elevator is a random experience for anyone using it, while people have to choose—“self-select”—to experience the music in the theater.

“The work at the Spring Street Gallery is significantly different,” Greenberger says.

It’s a collection of his drawings from over the period of the last three or four years. It was just 10 years ago that Greenberger had returned to formally creating visual art.

“It’s where I started. I made a conscious decision in the ’80s to focus on the Duplex Planet,” he says, and moved away from visual art.

Pictured is the drawing 37.5 % teeth, 62.5 % Spaghetti (2011), from the show at the Spring Street Gallery.

Elevator Music 26: David Greenberger: one updown will be available for your up-and-down listening pleasure through April 13, and performances of David Greenberger: One Upon will be held on selected days and times beginning Saturday (Feb. 15) from 3-6 PM through April 13 at the Tang Teaching Museum and Gallery (Skidmore College, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs). For more info and specific days and times of the performances, visit tang.skidmore.edu and poke around.

A Fair Wage: Drawings By a Working Artist opens today (Thursday, Feb. 13) with a reception from 6 to 8 PM and will remain on view through April 11 at the Spring Street Gallery (110 Spring St., Saratoga Springs). For more info, please call the gallery at 587-6433.