“Your battles inspired me – not the obvious material battles but those that were fought and won behind your forehead.” ― James Joyce

Portraits don’t happen in an instant.  They are born from years spent staring at the blank page, a white canvas, an empty frame.  They are made of microscopic particles of the physical and metaphysical kind.  While we may see the body of the artist etched into the fibers of a photograph, drawing or painting, we are only seeing a part of the story.  His eyes may acknowledge our gaze, but we cannot see the magical way he thinks and perceives the world until he reveals his story in his own time.

In his solo exhibition Portrait of An American Ice Cream Man, Gregory Siff reveals an intimate portrait of his journey as an artist defining and refining his voice in Los Angeles.  Using ice cream as a vehicle to connect the spirit of childhood and celebrate the unity of art, Siff designed his very own ice cream truck.  Transforming a Mercedes-Benz Metris with coats of vibrant acrylic, it becomes a symbol of nostalgia and a physical purveyor of sweet treats and happiness that transport us to the time of childhood.  A time when creativity flowed without judgment and ice cream was love, happiness and meant that everything was right in the world.

Installation Magazine has chronicled the work of Gregory Siff since we first began publishing in 2012.  An emblematic photograph taken by Rainer Hosch features Siff in his original studio, his beloved “treehouse” saluting the camera with a bottle of beer  From this vantage point we have watched an evolution of style and the growth of a distinctive voice shaping the landscape of our city.  While the origin of

While the origin of Portrait of an American Ice Cream Man is not certain, we look back to a moment when Siff met with Editor-in-Chief A. Moret durinh Art Basel Miami in 2014 as a potential starting point.  The Mondrian hotel was a sea of beautiful bodies bronzing in the tropical sun, strewn across a blanket of freshly painted grass.  Tie dye teepees offered shade and refuge from humidity and the structures seemed to float along the ocean and into the horizon.  Carrying a notebook and an assortment of markers under this arm, Siff opened to a page written in metallic letters. “Don’t let the art disappear,” it read.  He repeated it several times as if it were a mantra.   The idea which seemed so simple had kept him up painting most of the night before.  It was a moment of clarity, an epiphany, and marked a commitment to never letting the art in his mind disappear.  The artist kept his word.

Now two and a half year years later, Siff has filled his industrial studio in Downtown Los Angeles with an expansive body of work that reveals a maturation of style while presenting honesty as raw and palpable as that page that glittered in the Miami sun. Gregory Siff’s portrait is one of a seven-year-old boy anxiously waiting for the sweet familiar song of the ice cream truck to turn the corner. Siff has channeled that magical energy of time we thought could not be regained and has captured it.  When we see Siff’s ice cream truck we cannot help but smile.  We discover an unrealized beauty and sophistication in rocket pops and marshmallows, fro yo and milkshakes.   Just as his neighborhood ice cream man was a symbol of sweetness, Gregory Siff has become a dealer of happiness.  The art will never disappear so long as our hearts remain as open as a child waiting for the ice cream truck to arrive.

 

 

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The entrance. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

A true portrait of an "American Ice Cream Man," 4x5 film format by Jared Clatworthy
Installation Magazine’s official portrait of an American Ice Cream Man. 4×5 format, Kodak Portra 160 film. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

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An unbound book containing drawings, paintings, prose and polaroids. Collectively documenting the development of Siff’s solo exhibition. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

A detail view of the first page of "Portrait of An American Ice Cream Man."  Photo by Jared Clatworthy.
A detail view of the first page of Portrait of An American Ice Cream Man. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

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Studio view of The Periodic Table of You and Untitled Combine 1. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

Notebook and drawing instruments.
Notebook and drawing instruments.

 

 

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Gregory Siff and A. Moret at the Mondrian in Miami Beach, 2014.

 

 

"Never Let the Art Disappear," drawing by Gregory Siff.
Don’t Let the Art Disappear, by Gregory Siff. Photo by A. Moret.

 

 

The exterior view of the artist's studio.  Photo by Jared Clatworthy.
The exterior view of the artist’s studio. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

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Happy. Ancient. Real. Now. 7 days. A few of the elements and Gregory Siff. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

Gasoline, Michael Johnson x Gregory Siff, mirrored stainless Stell hand engraved custom Gasoline Finish, 48" x 60," 2016.  Photo by Jared Clatworthy.
Michael Johnson x Gregory Siff, Gasoline, mirrored stainless Stell hand engraved custom Gasoline Finish, 48″ x 60,” 2016. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

On the left:  "Every Girl You Haven't Met Yet," acrylic, ink and gold leaf on canvas, 60" x 60", 2016.  On the right:  "Run," acrylic, ink and gold leaf on canvas, 60" x 60," 2016.  Photo by Jared Clatworthy.
On the left: Gregory Siff, Every Girl You Haven’t Met Yet, acrylic, ink and gold leaf on canvas, 60″ x 60″, 2016. On the right: Gregory Siff, Run, acrylic, ink and gold leaf on canvas, 60″ x 60,” 2016. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

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Gregory Siff, Sold Out Helado, double sided archival pigment print on 276gsm photo rag duo cotton paper, 17″ x 17″, 2016. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

Gregory Siff, My Father's Son, oil, Krink, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 54" x 112," 2016.
Gregory Siff, My Father’s Son, oil, Krink, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 54″ x 112,” 2016. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

On the left:  Michael Johnson x Gregory Siff, You're All I Need, 18" x 9", 2016.  On the right:  Gregory Siff, Deals, acrylic, ink and marker on canvas, 60" x 101," 2016.  Photo by Jared Clatworthy.
On the left: Michael Johnson x Gregory Siff, You’re All I Need, 18″ x 9″, 2016. On the right: Gregory Siff, Deals, acrylic, ink and marker on canvas, 60″ x 101,” 2016. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

On the left:  Michael Johnson x Gregory Siff, Kings Highway and East 15th Street, polished stainless steel engraved blue stainless and acrylic and hand engraved stainless steel on found Brooklyn NYC transit bus grill, 28" x 49," 2016.  On the right:  Gregory Siff, "The Periodic Table of You."
On the left: Michael Johnson x Gregory Siff, Kings Highway and East 15th Street, polished stainless steel engraved blue stainless and acrylic and hand engraved stainless steel on found Brooklyn NYC transit bus grill, 28″ x 49,” 2016. On the right: Gregory Siff, The Periodic Table of You. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

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Lisa Schulte x Gregory Siff, Magic Talk, ink and neon on aluminum, 48″ x 48,” 2016. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

Lisa Schulte x Gregory Siff, Magic Talk, ink and neon on aluminum, 48" x 48," 2016.  Photo by Jared Clatworthy.
Lisa Schulte x Gregory Siff, Magic Talk, ink and neon on aluminum, 48″ x 48,” 2016. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

Gregory Siff, Children Don't Touch Stickers, 48" x 96," 2016.  Photo by Jared Clatworthy.
On the left: Gregory Siff, Children Don’t Touch Stickers, 48″ x 96,” 2016. On the right: Gregory Siff, Framed Monotype PressWork Prints, 27″ x 37.75,” 2016. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

Gregory Siff, The Periodic Table of You, 118 Elements, acrylic, ink, spray paint, studio dust, moldavite, graphite, Krink and secrets on canvas, 2016.  Photo by Jared Clatworthy.
Gregory Siff, The Periodic Table of You, 118 Elements, acrylic, ink, spray paint, studio dust, moldavite, graphite, Krink and secrets on canvas, 2016. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

Gregory Siff, Untitled Combine 1, mixed media on panel, 97.25" x 49.25," 2016.  Photo by Jared Clatworthy.
Gregory Siff, Untitled Combine 1, mixed media on panel, 97.25″ x 49.25,” 2016. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

Gregory Siff, Mercedes Benz Metris Ice Cream Truck, 2016.  Photo by Jared Clatworthy.
Gregory Siff, Mercedes Benz Metris Ice Cream Truck, 2016. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

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One day… detailed view of the Ice Cream Truck. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

An Ice Cream Man and his truck.  Photo by Jared Clatworthy.
An Ice Cream Man and his truck. Photo by Jared Clatworthy.

 

 

 

All photos © of Jared Clatworthy and Installation Magazine.