Comfort zones. We all have them. Some get stuck in them. Some use them to their best advantage. Some, who may be the type to be the most regulated by regimen, habit, routine, ritual, may have a very tight comfort zone. Some within this category, have the gift of wisdom, and are open to the receptivity of influence, are open to sound council or advice, who know truth when they see it, who are honest with life and their own lives. This comfort zone becomes a malleable entity to the betterment and propagation of life happiness, productivity, and balance. The latter is a description of now well-seasoned artist Josanne Glass, who, through a series of life influences, even though describing herself as a “controlled person,” has been much in-tuned with the rhythms of life. As a result, she is perpetually achieving greater and greater success, as an artist, and as a human being, of tremendous well-being, balance, and satisfied happiness in this life, as she truly lives her existence to a maximum, but well controlled capacity.
Born in Maine, raised across the US with a military father, to attend high school and University in northern California, and permanently settle in Utah in 1979, Glass’s journey of 30 successful years in corporate world USA, led to a place in her life where she was honest with herself to know “It was time for me to leave. At some point, I’ve got to do something with myself.” This culminated with a realization that, “I was going to have to make some life changes,” and in 2007 she finally decided, “It’s time for me to go.”
Happily, this was not an abrupt realization and not one of crisis. Five years earlier, in 2002, Glass had had a recommendation from a friend to read the book, “The Artist’s Way.” As open as Glass is, and as honest as Glass is to her self, having had a career in fashion, and aesthetics being a “key value” in her life, without any dreams or ambitions to become an artist, Glass began many practices in this book, some she encourages to this day, the most formative being “morning pages,” three pages of writing she enjoys on her garden bench each morning. Here Glass found herself, she said, “writing about the same things every day, and at some point, when you keep writing about the same things every day, you’ve got to make a decision. You either keep doing the same things over and over and over, nothing’s going to change, or you change.”
In the 5 years prior to leaving her corporate position, Glass was made more acutely aware of a deficit of a creative outlet in her life. “I always enjoyed art. That’s a place to start. Let’s see where it takes me,” she wrote. Glass saw an advertisement in Catalyst Magazine for art classes taught by Bonnie Sucec, a rare and serendipitous advent, and knowing Sucec’s reputation, Glass decided to take advantage of this opportunity. Given extensive travels to Boston, three times a month, her employ was compliant to give Glass leave on Fridays to attend classes with Sucec, which lasted 5 years. Initially, it was an invested interest, but this blossomed.
“In the act of writing, I discovered how important art is to me. I made a goal that I would have a show within two years. In two years I got Chapman Library. In five years I wanted to be at a place like Phillips or Finch Lane. In five years I had a show at Finch Lane.”
This was the time that Glass left her corporate life. But for this controlled person, who is truly honest with herself and others, she was not faced with trauma, after leaving a 30 year high level, high powered position, but had herself comfortably prepared and padded with interests, had her lovely and charming home paid for, and had her son’s private education at Reed College in Oregon settled, and much, so much to live for. After her older dog passed, she became the parent of Welsh Terriers Leo and Annie, who are the source of great happiness in the life of Glass and her husband.
“It was hard at first, but you have to find a life rhythm… it took a bit.” For this period after Glass left her employ, she did not paint. She enjoyed life, but she did not paint. She worked one day a week for a friend, and then began working for the A Gallery, and finally the catalytic turning point arrived when she met Jeff Juhlin, represented there. Flying back and forth to California to take care of an ailing mother, she had started sketching patterns of the land. “I did 36 9×9 works on paper. Jeff said, ‘These are really good, keep on going,’” Glass says. Further, “I needed the inspiration, and the angst with my mother in my life, to realize how much I enjoyed making art again.”
“Art is the one time where I absolutely loose control. I absolutely do not pay attention to the time, do not think, oh my, I have to start supper, walk the dogs- the wall by my desk, it is trashed.”
“Disparate Acts of Being,” is a seminal piece for the artist for her current show of 15 abstractions at the Town Club. One can see the conceptual thinking of the artist, the artist who is controlled and absolutely structured in her life, but willing to try new expression, willing to let herself be freed from the absolute. There is a balance to the composition, yet at the same time structural irregularities, and a lack of the absolute, a loss of the precise, a direction towards the unexpected and the unpredictable. Glass is motivated by what she can control, yet inspired by those spontaneous elements that are without her reach- this propels her as an artist, and motivates and broadens her range. A power sander is her greatest tool, as it finds newness in surfaces and hidden colors and textures. She works, not with a brush, but with a palette knife, to be at the same time well within controlled bounds, but to allow for a sense of improbability, that will push her limitations. She might make a mistake, but this is never removed, but incorporated to become a learning tool, as she is forever moving forward as an artist.
“Abstraction just came to me,” she says. “It just came to me. As soon as that happened I can’t turn it off. I go to sleep in the night, I wake up in the morning, and I look at the world differently.”
A development from “Disparate Acts of Being,” is “Blue Streak.” We can see just how the artist is open to influences and honest, most of all, to herself. When she sees a passage where she likes something she has done, she is quick to build on that, and she focuses her work in that direction. Glass is intelligent and she is a learner, always learning, not only from mistakes, but also from progress. This composition is a masterpiece of the quality of color as well as structure. Each plane of hue has an intense richness and veining, that invites the eye to travel vertically through the planes of color. There is a quasi-viscous quality to the intense honey yellow incorporated with marbled charcoal, or steel blue streaked and pulsating with iridescent opal. The red is shockingly scarlet, enriched with a ribboned ash. Yet there is an opaqueness to the plane of yellow between the blue and the red that is quite golden; it is not gilt, but the combination and application of tones makes it seem so, and the eye does not travel but relishes in this sonorous gold.
Says Glass, “Firstly, break all of the rules. It is true that this time around I am not working for somebody else and I am playing by my own rules, and I’m breaking art rules too.”
“Unintended Consequences” and “A Point in Time” are two farther leaps forward, as Glass has captured, more comprehensively and effulgently, a sense of color within a sense of sensible structure, the relationships these planes have with one another. These planes are not exclusive entities, but complimentary. Each supports the other as one plane inspires the color of the other, until they cease to be distinct, but exist as one, on one canvas, one unity, different in quality, yet harmonious and together, in presence and articulation of color harmony and being.
In “Unintended Consequences” the honey yellow with the high viscosity is a compliment to the enriched scarlet on the right, equally as viscous, and in their like presences, they exist together, their color creating a relationship of being. This holds true in the very powerful “A Point in Time” as the viscous and charcoal tempered yellow is at one with the immense blue that allows the ash to streak through its plane, muting it like inky fingers.
“It feels really in balance now,” says Glass, “It took me five years to find the right rhythm. I’d always given back and I need to be a part of something bigger and that’s why I’m on the board for Art Access. That aspect of community, that aspect of creating art, that aspect of family, that aspect of home, the personal aspect of time I spend writing, everything influences the other, and if I wasn’t controlled in getting stuff done, I wouldn’t feel as free to make art.”
A final piece to consider from all of the superb pieces in the Town Club show is “Subtext.” The piece is a tapestry. Glass has not painted a grid, but has created a cohesive unit of individual elements of color and structure, that comes together magnificently. And this is very much redolent of the life of Josanne Glass. A tapestry of individual pieces of structure and color, that comes together by the force of her will and volition and indefatigable energy to create an astonishing life. “I need that balance,” says Glass,” and that gives me the creative aspect, but that spills over into how I’ve found community, which spills into family, and it’s pretty cohesive.”
Like Glass herself, her abstract painting is cohesive, and the structure allows the color to marry, and to give life and fruition to the other, to “spill over,” to compliment, to create an abundance, where each element is a viscous unity of exciting yet controlled elements, alive and fecund. With sensibilities of receptivity and honesty, and eagerness to community, family and otherness, Glass’ life is a well articulated, intelligently structured, and colorful tapestry, that just keeps getting better and better.