Inside the Studio
written by Alicia Emr
Four years ago, I met Diana Greenberg in her studio during EAST. I knew that she was a unique talent and on the verge of success. Her abstract color field paintings evoked a sense of calm and serenity that drew people in. Several months later, I hosted a private event to introduce interior designers to a group of hand-selected emerging artists, including Diana. I knew my instincts were correct, when almost all of the attendees that night followed up with me, wanting to know more about her.
“It gave me great perspective knowing that it wasn’t enough to just create work that I was proud of if people weren’t able to see it.”
Fast-forward to today: She has gallery representation in her hometown of Austin, as well as shows in New Orleans and Houston. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, South Congress Hotel, and Kendra Scott HQ are notable corporate collectors of her work. Her fourth solo summer show at Wally Workman Gallery opened on July 7th, and it practically sells out every year.
As an art advisor, it’s unusual for me to place works by the same artist multiple times, because art is so personal and specific to each client. There are of course exceptions, and Diana continues to be one of the artists that clients love. Three of my clients proudly own her work, yet each of their individual collections are as different as night and day. The common thread was how her work made them feel, and isn’t that the ultimate goal of art?
In advance of her upcoming solo show, I sat down with Diana to gain insight into her inspiration, background and where she sees her work in the future.
How did you decide to make the switch from a career in corporate marketing to being a full time artist?
I have always painted and pursued creative interests on the side. After having children, I stopped working full time in marketing and knew I wanted to paint as a career. It’s funny, it wasn’t really a decision—I just finally did it and had a lot of drive in pursuing it. It also helped that, before, I would paint on weekends or at night, and to make it a career meant I could focus on it day-to-day instead of intermittent pockets of time.
How has your corporate experience influenced your career as an artist?
I hope it has helped me be better business-minded. It gave me great perspective knowing that it wasn’t enough to just create work that I was proud of, if people weren’t able to see it. I love painting, but I also enjoy the business side and working with galleries. The making of the work is pretty solitary.
Artists are taking so many different paths to sell their work, especially with the rise of social media. There are many debates about the role of galleries in an ever-changing art world. How has having gallery representation impacted you?
I knew early on that I wanted to work with galleries. Having young children with ever changing schedules, time is probably the biggest challenge to painting. My galleries act as true partners with me, which allows for other people to communicate with clients on my behalf, so that I can focus on producing the work. Also, I love the idea of someone walking into a gallery and finding an artist with which they have a connection.
“I work on the paintings for the yearly shows for months and months. The paintings change over time. It’s important to my process that they have time to evolve and change.”
Your Austin shows almost always sell out, and it’s hard to get pieces between shows. Talk through your decision for this approach vs. being more prolific?
That is a funny question because I am trying to be as prolific as possible! So there is definitely no decision to consciously produce less work. I work on the paintings for the yearly shows for months and months. The paintings change over time. It’s important to my process that they have time to evolve and change.
How has your work evolved over the past several years, and where do you see it going in the near future?
I can look back and see that I am much freer with my painting strokes, which I prefer… In the future, I would love to do a series of all botanicals and to continue to do big and even larger canvases.
Which artists inspire you?
There are too many to list! I love Joan Mitchell, Willem de Kooning and Patrick Heron.
People can easily visualize your works in their homes, and you’ve had great success placing works in hospitality and commercial spaces as well. Where is the most exciting place your work has been placed?
I was very proud to have paintings included in a project at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The paintings hang in their offices, and if my art can uplift the people working to help cure and treat cancer, then that is an honor for sure.