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Oregon artist who made it big comes home for exhibition

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George D. Green has brought his paintings to Lake Oswego for a monthlong display.

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Artist George D. Green stands next to a piece entitled 'Marooned in Dream: A Path of Song and Mind,' which he painted in 2013.George D. Green's Lake Oswego grandpa once gave him a piece of advice: "Draw big — and put some action into it."

For Green, that advice would become more important than he ever could have imagined as a child. Today, his colorful abstract illusionism artwork has been featured in 160 national and international exhibitions and represented in 71 museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art and the Portland Art Museum.

"It was so unlikely, so absolutely magical, that this kind of a thing would happen," he says. "Life actually is a magical deal."

Green — a fifth-generation Oregonian — is showcasing his work this month at the Arts Council of Lake Oswego's 510 Museum & ARTspace.

The exhibition, entitled "Visual Magic: Robust Exuberance to Contemplative Revelation, 1982-2016," includes pieces from Green's "exuberant 1980s and the contemplative 2000s to the present." The show features his signature "trompe l'oeil illusion" style, which tricks the eye into perceiving a flat, painted detail as a three-dimensional object. In some of Green's recent pieces, even the "frames" and "mats" are painted illusions.

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Green says this current painting invites viewers to touch it, and he encourages them to do so. Touching art

Green honed his unique style during a 30-year tenure in New York City. While he and his family were sleeping on the floor of a tiny SoHo loft when his career began, soon he was selling his work to the director of the Guggenheim Museum and actor Steve Martin, among others.

Today, his pieces go for $150,000 or more.

From his earliest pieces in 1978 to the present, Green's style has slowly evolved through some 1,000 paintings.

"It's interesting to think that the genesis of the current work resided unnoticed in the exuberant pictures from the past," he says on his website.

Green says his art is inspired less by ideas and more by "non-ideas."

"What happens is reacting to a circumstance and permitting things to occur," he says.

After he and his family moved to Milwaukie in 2007, he founded the George D. Green Art Institute, a nonprofit organization that provides artist seminars and exhibits as well as young artist shows to encourage interactive exposure to art and the process of creating it.

"(We) let kids touch the paintings," he says. The atmosphere will be the same at his upcoming exhibit, he says; "We don't want it to be like a standard museum — we want it to be real, where people see things and know things and do things."

The exhibition is on display through March 31 at 510 Museum & ARTspace, 510 First St. in Lake Oswego.

On March 29, he'll host two workshops for students ages 8-12 and 13-18. "Creating Visual Energy with Amazing Doodles," which costs $15 to attend, will also be held at 510 Museum & ARTspace.

In a press release, Arts Council Executive Director Nicole Nathan says she was looking forward to what Green's exhibition will bring to the community.

"To show the work of an internationally renowned artist of this caliber, here in Lake Oswego, is such a unique and exclusive opportunity," she says. "We are thrilled to introduce the work and story of George Green."

IF YOU GO

George D. Green: Visual Magic: Robust Exuberance to Contemplative Revelation, 1982-2016

What: An exhibition from an international artist

When: Exhibition is open March 3-31; hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and by appointment

Where: 510 Museum & ARTspace, 510 First St. in Lake Oswego

Info: To learn more, visit artscouncillo.org.