Be warned! Bees currently abound in the Anna Bier Gallery. Featured artist Michael Glass explains that, rather than simply illustrating the bee as an object, his paintings focus on the fact that bees and other pollinators are essential to life as we know it, and attention must be paid; butterflies and birds are also central to this theme. Additionally, believing that such limitations can inspire invention, Michael wanted to limit his area of concentration to one subject; his colorful and easily identifiable forms are rendered in an appealing style that the artist calls abstract realism.
Abundant artistic energy and tension permeate this exhibit which will remain on view at the Gallery through December 19. Michael, a graduate of Columbus College of Art and Design, begins the creative process for his work with a sketch, breaking his subjects down to basic forms and shapes; the painting itself then takes off on its own path, building on the original plan which is sometimes destroyed and built anew, filling each canvas with a sense of excitement and discovery for the artist as well as the eventual viewer. Michael hopes that viewers find their own insights into his work, developing their personal narratives of the stories that his paintings tell.
The first of a planned series of 10,“Betsy Ross Flag No. 1” recreates a familiar red, white, and blue image. Inspired by the colonial spirit of patriotism, the piece illustrates the widely recognized “Americana brand” that can animate widely disparate feelings reflecting the mood and mindset of the viewer. Reinforcing his role as a teller of tales as well as a painter of pictures, Michael confides that he’s working on a “really neat” version of the Stars and Stripes with a waving modern flag demonstrating a history of struggle.
According to the artist, his “Portrait of a Man” tells a unique story, although the identity of the engagingly drawn subject remains Michael’s secret. The painter says that bending shapes with a brush is easy, but he long ago abandoned that instrument, first plunging turkey basters into big tubs of paint to create his work, and now using sticks of various sizes as well as pencils and screw drivers to direct the paint, throwing lines from which shapes emerge.
“Sunflowers” marks a departure for the ever-evolving artist who, frustrated with centering on only one object at a time, created this beautifully evocative composition that is open to interpretation even for the artist himself. “Horse Race” actively depicts three horses, the subjects in the foreground appearing quite realistic with objects becoming more abstract as the eye moves across the canvas. The crowd is inferred rather than actually seen in this work, which pleasingly demonstrates great variety in color and value.
“Bear On Orange,” features a striking ferocious but somewhat comical bear and the words “Growl,” “Roar,” and “Grrr.” Utilizing the graphic design talents necessary for his day job at New Bremen-based Marketing Essentials, Michael says that creating this piece was fun. “I mentally did a lot of dancing on this one,” he remarked.
Constantly inspired by his wife Rachel, a school psychologist, and 8-year-old daughter Ava, Michael keeps coming up with new ideas and plans. His latest inspiration is represented by two miniatures that layer resin and paint to create images with dimension and scope. One is a pleasant evocation of a blue bird, and the other is a magical capturing of a bee. Dots of paint are stippled in, one little blob after another, then encased in resin, layer after layer. Rather than existing in a constant space, the riveting image is at the same time broken apart and put together, creating a problem to be solved in the mind of the viewer.
You will be delighted and inspired by this exhibit of works by Michael Glass featuring different perspectives of bees, butterflies, and many other subjects. The Anna Bier Gallery, located within Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall, is open Saturdays from 11 a.m. till 3 p.m., and prior to performances at the hall. To view the art at other times, contact Gallery Director Marcia Weidner at 937-417-3497.