March 23-July 6, 2014: Glenn Owen Retrospective
The work of Glenn Owen (1935-2013) exhibited at the Glen House represents the artist’s work from 1956 to the time of his death, December 3, 2013.
The exhibit gives an overview of the versatility of the artist, the variety of his work; it is a small selection from an extensive body of work. Glenn Owen was a prolific artist; a large volume of work as well as those of us who knew him attest to it. Every work here displayed is an example only of the series of work represented. He was a painter primarily, but he worked as well in other media. His series of paintings often extended to include a variety of media in drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry and enamel work. He was a versatile artist, an artist who explored the world around him, keenly aware of all the arts, conversant with works of art and the work of his contemporaries: an artist who contributed his own distinctive vision to the world.
I met Glenn in 1955; we were both students at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. He was, even then, recognized as a promising young artist, respected for his work by students and teachers alike. There was no medium in which he did not excel. He received scholarships and numerous prizes. In seminars, held twice monthly, in which student work was being critiqued, Glenn’s work always received admiration and praise. The volume of work he produced astonished us, and provoked a bit of envy as well. Still, we appreciated the directness and intensity, the integrity of his work, the courage of his undertaking. He was not afraid to explore the works of other artists; in fact, he found it necessary for his own development to understand what contemporary artists were saying, by working out the meaning of it in his own work. It was an inquiry to gain insight, which further informed his own work; a conversation, of sorts, with the artists of his time; a communion.
Conversant with important works of art, Glenn brought the contemporary art world to us at the Academy, giving it meaning through his work. Like a dancer, aware of the choreography at hand, he embodied the markings found to flesh out a dance of his own. What he brought to this endeavor was his vitality, his awareness and keen insight; his integrity.
From such fertile beginnings, the artistic development of Glenn Owen continued. The work evolved into series of paintings, one series following the other; some he worked on for years, others were short lived, and like a needed respite. Some concerns interrupted a series, and he would go back to it later, revitalizing an old interest. A series ended when the fluency achieved flowed into another idea, the work evolved into another concern. A virtuosity in color continued. Sometimes he likened his work to music (he always listened to music, especially while he was painting). His last series he likened to the music of Bach.
He worked tirelessly. There was hardly a day in Glenn’s life that he did not work in his studio. In his classroom, in conversations with others, in the life of his every day, it was always art that predominated. Even in his late seventies, living in seclusion, he would rise at 6am and paint until 2pm with the same vitality and fervor. His work was the source of joy, he said. It gave meaning to life.
It is his work that speaks to us now. On looking at the exhibit as a whole, one can be overwhelmed by the variety of approaches. But the source behind this variety, the predominant voice of the artist, is clear, distinctive, consistent and recognizable. His use of color reveals the master at work. From the earliest beginnings to the end, throughout the evolution that created an extensive body of work, his voice can be traced in form and color to reveal itself, true and constant, bearing witness to the sincere intent of the artist. And, as Glenn, not too long ago, told me: this work is a conversation with God.
– Luisa Lang Owen
Memorial for Glenn Owen, April 6, 2014
We’ll celebrates his life at a memorial on April 6, from 1-5pm.