Alan Greene has been hooked on art since he was in middle school.
The Silver High School graduate has had an up-and-down life. He was born in Silver City on Easter Sunday in 1955, joined the Navy for two years, was released under honorable conditions and has been in and out of prison ever since.
Walking into his business, Rainbow Thug Gallery at 313 E. 13th St. in Silver City, there is art – paintings, metal sculpture, a refurbished bookshelf, and other curiosities. Many of the paintings are created on frayed squares of cloth, prison sheets torn into squares to make canvasses for an unstoppable artist to keep his work going on.
“This is just a chunk of bedsheet,” Greene said, indicating an eerie piece with a study depicting numerous hands grasping prison bars. “I was limited in my resources so I just primered a sheet and left the rough edges.”
But his gallery is not only prison sheets, but there are also older pieces there, found after 40 years stored in his sister’s closet. He enthusiastically walks through the homemade gallery space talking and explaining the work there.
Greene works and lives in the same place his artwork lives. He has built an easel, pulls out his box and he is off, happily creating his works in paint.
“This is how I work,” he said. “Water here, paint there and I just hold forth. I also have a magic wand just in case I get in a tough spot – made it myself.”
In between prison stays Greene has also left a legacy of murals. His work can be found in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Silver City. He said he is available by commission for anything anyone wants painted, from portraits, to pets to large-scale murals. He is also a sign-painter.
One of his specialties is homoerotica, but these pieces are tastefully placed in his home gallery and not in your face when you walk in. And they are not always obvious, he said. The image mentioned above with the hands and the bars is really very erotic “because it’s about how a man holds himself.”
“I just love to paint,” Greene said. “I like to make interesting wall art that is attractive and sometimes just pretty.”
He calls his life in Silver City his latest prison sabbatical. But he is known behind the bars as an artist.
“I went to Hobbs (prison) and they hooked me up with paint and fabric and I started painting as soon as I got there,” he said. “Then they transferred me to Clayton and the same thing happened. The state of New Mexico doesn’t understand forgiveness or closure. I came out with all these small paintings and as soon as I got here, I started making these big paintings.”
Greene said people can call him with any of their art needs, he will paint, sculpt and make signs to order.
“I have plenty of paint and am looking forward to getting really busy here,” he said.