Sebastian Blanck and Isca Greenfield-Sanders Talk Art and Marriage
The couple of 25 years are riding the waves of work and life together.
By Rosemary Feitelberg
In terms of artistic partnerships, Sebastian Blanck and his wife Isca Greenfield-Sanders seem to be in lockstep.
His first solo show at the Miles McEnery Gallery in Chelsea will bow Thursday and run through Aug. 31. Titled “She’s My Best Friend,” the exhibition is a reference to Isca, who is also represented by the same gallery.
Blanck, a Rhode Island School of Design alum, spent a few years assisting the esteemed artist Alex Katz in his New York City studio in SoHo. (He also worked for the British painter Cecily Brown and Nabil Nahas.) More than 20 years have passed since Blanck saw Katz in action on a regular basis but in the few years of working with Katz, a few things stayed with him about how to be a painter — the seriousness with which you should approach the situation, the amount of time you have to commit to it and the consideration of how the painting’s surface and the material could potentially give a “unique take on a medium that’s 500 years old, but still has room for individual expression.”
From the beginning, Blanck has had a sharp interest in portraiture and figurative work, according to Greenfield-Sanders, who was an undergrad at Brown University studying painting and math when she met Blanck in his RISD days, 25 years ago at an intramural softball game in Providence. After asking him out, they embarked on what has become a 25-year relationship. Now married with two children, the couple also share a professional union. “Isca has been a muse and I have made paintings of her, since we got together,” Blanck said.
As “She’s My Best Friend” demonstrates, his work celebrates life’s “small and intimate moments that might go unnoticed otherwise,” according to Greenfield-Sanders, who shared a studio and worked side-by-side with her husband for 20 years. “We both get really into the weeds of what it means to be a painter, speaking about light, pattern and bringing the technical side to the narrative side.”
Aside from having had the good fortune to stage shows early in their careers, the pair also share gallery representation in Stockholm at the Wetterling Gallery and in Aspen at the Baldwin Gallery. This fall Greenfield-Sanders will unveil her next show, “Passing Afternoon,” in Munich at the Galerie Kluser and the following one is set for Miles McEnery. “Looking for the quiet intimate moments that are shared just by two people or a group of people” often surfaces in their work.
As a visual person, Blanck said he is often connecting with and highlighting “the feeling that he gets from something and recognizing the beautiful people” that he’s with. “In some ways, it’s a practice that keeps me engaged with life and new experiences. But it also reminds you of how special it is that you get to share your life with someone and have a family with someone. With all of the distractions in the world, that’s a way to stay connected to your life. And that’s not a digital version of it, but one you’re living in and experiencing,” Blanck said.
His work recently appeared on the cover of L.L. Bean’s spring catalogue — an illustration of outdoors types out in the wilderness. The only requisites were a dog be featured and that everyone be pictured on the trail — in abidance with the National Park Service guidelines. Blanck recalled being advised that “people love dogs.” He added with a laugh, “If you look at the history of L.L. Bean [catalogue] covers, there are so many dogs.”
The Maine-based retailer didn’t specify the type of dog so the artist used a little creative license and modeled the dog after one that belongs to his friend Mandy McCorkle, a RISD grad and graphic designer. “She posted some pictures on Instagram. I was doing some research and we don’t have a dog. We have a cat Ozzy that we absolutely love.”
However, there is a painting of Ozzy in the show at Miles McEnery.