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Mike Glier: An Open Season

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Mike Glier: An Open Season Immerse yourself in Mike Glier’s bold and captivating interpretation of nature in this, our new show of his work, An Open Season. As we trudge through the pandemic and the daily news cycles, we hope that An Open Season inspires a few moments of peace, reflection, and thoughtful contemplation. An Open Season is an exhibition illustrating Glier’s process outdoors in the field. Many artists make field sketches, and those sketches illustrate the exact moment in nature and time when an artist is inspired to make art. The works in An Open Season illustrate how elements in nature not only affect Glier visually, but are also a two dimensional interpretation of all his other senses, smell, taste, and hearing in that moment. In this era of science and discovery, Glier shows how all of our senses are employed in making art. It is rare that we discuss how art affects all our senses. We know that a painting can make us emote, but can one taste a painting, hear sounds on a canvas or smell the atmosphere laid out in paint? Inspiration for a work comes from all the senses not just the visual. Glier illustrates how sounds, smells, and tastes are huge influencers on an image. He successfully translates this in these works, and by doing so opens the viewer’s other senses as well.


For more than a decade I have worked with Mike, first in New York on the exhibition for Along A Long Line. For the past seven years since the formation of Downing Yudain, Mike has generously contributed to numerous exhibitions here at the barn. It is with great joy we organized this solo exhibition. Thank you, Mike, for your support and giving us the opportunity to work with this sensational body of work. A special thank you also goes to the noted scholar Valerie Ann Leeds for her very provocative essay included here in the catalogue. Valerie and I have worked together on numerous exhibitions over two decades. I can’t think of better person to work with Mike and to work with period. We hope you will enjoy the exhibition illustrated in this catalogue. While we regret that we can’t gather our friends and Mike’s admirers together for a big celebratory opening event, we are delighted to set up private viewings, or send individual images, if there is further interest. We hope you enjoy the work as much as we do, and we thank you for your continued interest and support. Lily de Jongh Downing and David Yudain January 2021 info@art357.com


Impromptu: Mike Glier and the Field Notes by Valerie Ann Leeds I often change my practice and respond to what’s happening around me. It’s not only the content that’s improvisational, but also the style. I often start pictures without knowing where they’re going . . . . Improvisation is the key. Mike Glier, 2019

The art of painting is on clear display in the recent series of work by Mike Glier, known as Field Notes. The artist’s roving intellect and improvisational tactics are manifested in these expressive works in which he intuitively explores the natural world in drawing and in paint. While he considers himself a landscape painter, his multivalent approach is


based on the experiential as he delves into interpretations of his surroundings, deploying keen powers of observation while calling on his senses as he gauges and records an artistic response. With pencil and paint, he employs a traditional form of expression—which has its basis in the landscape genre, but with a conceptual overlay. Glier sees himself “as a representational and abstract painter.�1

Twitching Water Bug, 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


The Field Notes are reflective of both a continuum as well as a departure for Glier from prior bodies of work. His artistic practice is largely guided by an exploratory process, as he pursues varying lines of inquiry that often result in discrete bodies of work. The working process of the Field Notes is closely tied to the artistic tradition of landscape painting in observing and notating surroundings while working directly from the subject, en plein air, and completing compositions back in the studio. In recent years, in this and a prior body of work, Along A Long Line,2 his experimental use of pigment applied to a surface and the resulting forms convey feeling, emotion, and mood, while


relying on his perceptions about specific places in the natural world as a point of departure. In Field Notes, Glier again is inspired by the natural world, responding to various locales including Maine; the environs of his studio in eastern Upstate New York; central New Mexico; Somerset, England; and the island of St. John, but are less about specificity of place.

Black Stones Stirred by Tropical Surf Knock and Clack as the Water Drags Through Them, 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


The Field Notes are filtered through the lens of intense observation of the natural environment and personal experience of it via the senses. This approach began while he was working in New Zealand in 2012, following the period after he had completed Along A Long Line. While working there en plein air, the wind, one day, picked up his easel and tossed it to the ground. He then alighted on the idea of representing the wind, which he first attempted in drawing and then in paint (figs. 1, 2). This was the first time he had set about portraying something he could not see, which launched a new trajectory in his work.3 From this time onward, he generally begins working by taking an inventory of his senses—what he is hearing, feeling, smelling, as well as seeing—which then informs the creative


Sketch for January 16, 2012, Wind, Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand, 66ยบF, 2012, graphite on paper January 16, 2012, Wind, Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand, 66ยบF, 2012, oil on aluminum panel: 24 x 30 inches (Figs. 1 & 2)


result.4 He typically begins with drawing (he has produced about eight hundred in this series), which are for Glier about the learning process, exploring an idea or motif in all its permutations. While in the field, he also makes color notations, often in the form of simple swatches of color laid on paper with a palette knife. He then moves on to painting, interpolating the notes and observations he has made. The majority of the Field Notes paintings are


inscribed with handwritten text, which range from deadpan descriptions to narrative notes. The observations are in the third person that suggest a nonhuman point of view, which is in accordance with Glier’s interest in decentering the human image in his work and instead focusing on other life forms.5

Carving A Valley, 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 16 x 16 inches


The Field Notes are about note-taking and a sketch as a final finished work of art. These works maintain the expository and impromptu quality of a sketch while feeling complete and finished. Like Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks (fig.3) or Jean-Antoine Watteau’s studio sketches, they are images of an artistic exploration and objects of study. The Field Notes are reliant on form in their origin in the natural world, yet, they are suggestive and abstracted. It is color, however, that defines these compositions—bottomless and immersive color—the sweeping richly toned swathes of pigment often appear incandescent. A new

Leonardo da Vinci, Botanical Studies with Star-of-Bethelehem, Grasses, Crowfoot, Wood Amemone and Another Genus, 1508-13, red chalk, reworked with pen and dark brown ink, 7.3/4 x 6 3/4 inches, Windsor Castle, Royal Library (Windsor, Berkshire, Great Britain) (Fig. 3)


support material came to Glier’s attention—Arches Huile paper—that he used for the Field Notes—has had a profound effect on the appearance of these works and has altered his practice. This paper permits painting in oil directly on it without primer (then the paper is glued to a panel). Therefore, the color can sit on the surface or soak in, creating this tonal luminosity.6

At first light the birds make a ruckus., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


Glier’s work is both new and original and yet deeply rooted in tradition and inspired by artistic predecessors. He relishes “the continuity of one generation of artists to the next,” learning from artists that came before him that knit together the cultural fabric.7 Da Vinci is a foundational influence for Glier, especially in annotating his compositions and the keeping of notebooks. At various junctures, different artists have greatly informed his practice, as wide-ranging as Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Joan Mitchell, Marsden Hartley, and Frederic Church, but in the Field Notes, of particular importance in shaping his ideas were Charles Burchfield (fig.4), John Cage, and Sol Lewitt.

Charles Burchfield, Sultry Vista, 1960, watercolor, charcoal and conte crayon on paper: 10 1/2 x 17 inches, private collection, MD (Fig.4)


Burchfield encouraged ideas about representing sound through the repeated use of motifs. Cage’s significance, as an artist/ musician, was his use of chance to foster improvisation. And, Lewitt’s example was of consequence in his use of a set of variables and exploring permutations of these variables without judgment, as occurs in the natural world.8 Glier professes that “the history of landscape painting is with me every time I make a mark.”9 His innate intuitive curiosity will no doubt prompt future lines of inquiry exploring the natural world as the climate crisis looms and weighs on him; nevertheless, at the same time for him, “art is a constant adventure” and his explorations of style will continue to evolve.10 Like the living world, Glier’s oeuvre is one of mutability, invention, and change.

Fog Approaching, 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


Notes

Glier to the author, November 17, 2020.

1

See Mike Glier, Lisa Corrin, and Carol Diehl, Along A Long Line (Lenox, MA: Hard Press Editions, 2009). For an overview of Glier’s artistic trajectory, see Elizabeth Greenberg, ed., Meander, Because You Can’t See Much While Marching: Mike Glier: A 35 Year Survey, exh. cat. (Albany, NY: Opalka Gallery, The Sage Colleges, 2014). 2

Glier to the author, November 2, 2020; and Phillip Pyle, “Mike Glier on His Current Series, Recent Artist Residency,” Williams Record, October 20, 2019, https://williamsrecord.com/2019/10/mike-glier-on-his-current-series-recent-artist-residency/. 3

4

Glier to the author, November 2, 2020.

5

Glier to the author, December 9, 2020. Glier to the author, November 2, 2020.

6

7

Glier to the author, November 17, 2020.

Glier to the author, November 2, 2020.

8

Glier to the author, November 27, 2020.

9

Glier, as quoted in Pyle, “Mike Glier on His Current Series.”

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An Open Season An Open Season, a selection of oil paintings from my Field Notes series, is an account of the living world and the adventure and knowledge that is found in its company. Although the artwork in this exhibition evolved over the last decade, it is fitting that they are being assembled for the first time during the COVID pandemic when so many of our social institutions are closed, but the out-of-doors remain open and familiar. However, An Open Season not only refers to the relative freedom we currently find in the open air, but also to the process of their making. I begin each plein air work by sitting quietly, with the senses open, to survey all of the experiences of a place before creating improvisations based on sound, touch, and sight. But the title is also a hinge to another facet of these observational abstractions; an “open season� refers to a time when the living world is under sustained attack and its health and long-term viability are in question. Herein lies the complexity of these small works that are paeans to beauty in the service of environmental consciousness. Mike Glier, 2020


A Loon Fishing, 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 16 x 16 inches


Morning Light Approaching over the Ocean, 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


It’s Scared, 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


Squirrel Leaving the Anthropocene, 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


A Shape for the Color Gray, 2016, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


A Shape for Pink, 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


Fog, 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 16 x 16 inches


The birds are elegant, their sound is not., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


Snow Drop, 2020, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 16 x 16 inches


It is sitting on the ground low among on the flowers. The sound of bees., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


When does a stray becomes wild?, 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


Startled Ground Bird, 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


Bird in an Updraft, 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 16 x 16 inches


A swallow hunting over the pond and the call of crows., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 16 x 16 inches


Storm Arriving, 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 16 x 16 inches


A low sky lifting, cool. Sitting in the open hilly land, cattle lowing in the distance., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


The sound of Mourning Doves in the color of dried bean pods on a distant tree., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


Seeking advantage, it climbed atop a large manure pile., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


The thunderstorm came over the ridge surprising it. There was little cover., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


Getting dark, it’s lost., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


Looking up into an enormous pine., 2016, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


Vault of the sky-hemisphere cut and flattened like an orange., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


The stones click and clack as the water pushes through them., 2019, oil on Arches paper mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


The sky flattened into a flower., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


The sound of surf and the sharks are chasing seals., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


Coastal forest. A few noises it couldn’t name., 2019, oil on Arches paper mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


Water Birds, 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


A Happy Gurgle, 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


The coral was beautiful but not as beautiful as it once was., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 16 x 16 inches


Impatiens Glandulifera and the Sound of the River Brue, 2020, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 16 x 16 inches


Warm happy. Clear water., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


Two seals rode the tide into Cobscook Bay. The building clouds looked like a brain., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


Wide beach. Big wave., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 16 x 16 inches


The smell of Jasmine. The taste of mango. Gray palms. Purple flowers. Birds calls at dawn., 2019, oil on Arches paper, varnished, mounted on panel: 12 x 16 inches


Large Scale Paintings


Crying Beasts, 2017, oil on linen: 48 x 78 Inches


The Forests of Antarctica 434 v.1, 2016, oil and oil charcoal on Arches paper: 44 x 69.75 inches


Swallows Hunting, 2017, oil on canvas: 55 x 90 inches


The Forests of Antarctica 436 v.2, 2017, oil on linen: 45 x 67 inches


The Forests of Antarctica 468, 2017, oil on canvas: 60.5 x 107.25 inches


Startled Ground Bird v2, 2019, oil on Arches paper: 27 x 42 inches


Swallows Hunting v.3, 2019, oil on Arches paper: 25 x 43 inches


Study for the Forests of Antarctica 470, 2017, charcoal, oil on Arches paper: 66.5 x 49.75 inches


The Sound of Surf, 2017, oil on linen: 45 x 69 inches


The Forests of Antarctica 161 v.1, 2015, acrylic and oil on primed paper: 43 1/4 x 72 1/2 inches


Hero Island, 2015, oil, acrylic on primed paper: 43 x 57 3/4 inches


Mike Glier makes drawings and paintings about the human relationship with the environment. The Alexander Falck Class of 1899 Professor of Art at Williams College, Glier is a recipient of a National Endowment Fellowship in drawing, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in painting. Glier has had solo exhibitions at Krakow Witkin Gallery, Boston; Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York; Gerald Peters Gallery, New York and Santa Fe; and the Museum of Modern Art, NY. The Drawing Center, NY; The Tyler Gallery, Philadelphia; and the Opalka Gallery, Albany NY, have sponsored national touring exhibitions and he has participated in the Whitney Museum Biennial, NY. He has exhibited internationally at the Lisson Gallery, London; Tanya Grunert Gallery, Cologne; American Graffiti, Amsterdam; Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; and was the artist and educator in residence at Hauser and Wirth Gallery, Somerset, England. To find out more about Mike Glier, please visit his website: http://www.mikeglier.net.


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Mike Glier: An Open Season  

A catalogue for the exhibition, Mike Glier: An Open Season, which includes over 30 field notes, works measuring 12 x 16 or 16 x 16 inches, a...

Mike Glier: An Open Season  

A catalogue for the exhibition, Mike Glier: An Open Season, which includes over 30 field notes, works measuring 12 x 16 or 16 x 16 inches, a...