Alumni Spotlight Series: Jack Green '95, A Life with the Visual Arts

Alumni Spotlight Series: Jack Green '95, A Life with the Visual Arts

When Gill St. Bernard’s purchased Home Winds Farm in 2015, they jumped into the acquisition like any other enthusiastic new homeowner: updating some of the facilities, adding their personal touch to the property, and painting exterior elements which had faded over time. One such element that needed tending was the Home Winds mural, a realistic landscape painted onto the side of the Hemm House garage facing Bernards Road.

The mural had been commissioned by the former owners of Home Winds in 1993 to integrate the garage, located to the left side of the main home, into the background. At first glance, the mural’s green fields dotted with flowers rolling into a blue sky made it appear as if the front lawn of Home Winds continued into the pastures beyond, unbroken by modern structures. Unsurprisingly, after almost thirty years of exposure to the weather, the mural had lost its visual impact. Boards had been replaced on the garage which left gaps in the original composition, and details like the proportionately designed sheep barn were no longer distinguishable.

Different ideas on how to restore the mural—or even if the mural could be restored—were debated, until Board of Trustee member, Andrea Freeman ’95, offered the perfect solution. She’d stayed in touch with GSB classmate, Jack Green ’95, a local artist and real estate agent, and she asked him if he could take on the project if she supplied the raw materials. Jack jumped at the chance.

“It was an honor to be able to return to campus and give back to the school,” said Jack. “I had a great experience at Gill, and many of my classmates and I are still very close. It was so cool to not only be back on campus but to make my own small contribution to it.”

The former Knight had spent the last twenty years working for his family’s real estate and construction business, Jack Green Realty, in Monmouth County. Normally, a real estate agent wouldn’t be the logical choice to restore an exterior mural, but Andrea knew about Jack’s artistic talents. He’d been an avid arts student at GSB and had gone on to earn an undergraduate degree in Industrial Design at the Pratt Institute School of Design. While he was a businessman by day, he’d continued to paint and keep art in his life.

“Having an art eye is a benefit in real estate development and renovation,” Jack explained. “But I’m also lucky to live near the Jersey Shore. There’s a really robust art scene down here.”

That scene included the group of friends who gathered to paint in the art studio in Jack’s backyard and the opportunity to exhibit art in local businesses and coffee shops. One very public display was the Sorry We’re Closed billboard Jack created in 2020 and installed at the end of the Ocean Grove boardwalk, directly in front of the crossover into Asbury Park. During the pandemic, Asbury Park had closed access to its boardwalk to all pedestrians while Ocean Grove remained open.

“The billboard received a lot of local press,” the artist admits. “I used to primarily paint on canvas, but when the pandemic hit and canvases were hard to find, I switched to painting on plywood like on the billboard and other mediums.”

Those other mediums included concrete, such as the concrete wall Jack was commissioned to paint in the style of a Japanese Water Garden. The wall was located in his friend’s backyard, and upon completion of the project, Jack hosted a pandemic-friendly outdoor gallery opening for the Japanese Water Garden mural and a collection of his other more traditional pieces. Over 150 people were in attendance.

“I try to host one formal show a year,” Jack said. “But this one was really special.”

After stretching his skills on large-scale projects during the pandemic, the mural restoration fit squarely in his wheelhouse. Jack used a “paint by numbers” approach to segment out the process and to honor the original design which he describes as a “classical style” that had “impressionistic elements with a foundation in realism.”

“The Home Winds mural is admittedly different from my own style,” Jack said. "I had to be careful to redo exactly what was there and not to add my own touches.”

The style he paints in now is not only different from the realistic Home Winds mural but is also different from that of the 14-year-old who took art classes with June Julian on the third floor of Founders.

“We didn’t have the same facilities as the students do now, and yet, I received a solid enough foundation in painting and drawing to get accepted and to thrive at Pratt,” he reflected. “I loved the small class size and individual attention at GSB, and I appreciated having kids from other grades in my classes. Art is one of those subjects that would blend grades together, and it allowed me to get to know more of my classmates.”

Jack’s ability to explore art while meeting students in other grades was also expanded through the Unit Program, a time that he recounts as one of the best in his life.

“I got to go abroad to a variety of countries, including England, Ireland, Greece, and Spain, and I got to experience the art and architecture I’d studied in person,” Jack said. “I can still remember seeing Picasso’s Guernica in the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid. It was huge; it had one whole wall to itself.”

Thanks to Jack, GSB alumni, students, friends, and family can now have their own Guernica-like in-person art experience without having to travel to Spain. While the mural may not be as famous or receive as many visitors as the Picasso (yet), the Home Winds mural stands proudly over campus and will continue to be a source of amazement and joy to the community for years to come.

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