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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Glen Owen: Interstices

By Conrad Zagory, Jr.

Those who have had occasion to view Glen Owen’s work will have little trouble identifying the lineage of his present sixteen-piece collection of black and white line drawings. Over the years there has been, simply put, a process of miniaturization resulting in an ever-increasing complexity: drawings become writings; scripts that organize themselves in our variously differing human minds which somehow make sense to us. It is especially so for those who can distinguish from among writing systems, past and present: Sumerian, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Chinese, Linear A & B from Crete, Runic, Japanese, Mayan, Korean, and so on. Furthermore, these varying, quasi-scripts are to be found in the interstitial tissue of these drawings: those areas which define the borders between geometric patterns, sometimes separating and other times, melding one into another, especially where we find circular as opposed to linear delineations. We have been presented with a Borgesian Library, infinite in concept and limited only by the size of the drawing.

What is of import to Glen is his long-held conviction that the sacred, the holy, resides in these interstices, the blank areas encompassed by the lines, much as the Taoist, who instructs us that it is the emptiness contained in the vessel that is the proper focus of our meditations. It is here we find the spirit of the creative force, and art as a universal language. It is why we are entranced by Indian miniatures, Korean celadon, or Japanese sumie, without belonging to any of those nationalities or traditions.

Two other themes should be noted: colorization and rebirth. Glen would describe himself as an abstract expressionist and colorist, and ultimately as sui generis. He has begun a new series: the same architecture but now colorized. But more importantly, we should realize that we almost lost this dear man to illness, had it not been for the ministrations of his cardiologist, Dr. Bob Scott of Springfield, Ohio. For seven months, Glen looked like death warmed over, so this series is also an expression of his renewed appreciation for life. Painting, drawing, in effect what we call art, is for him not a matter of choice, but a compulsion. His return from the abyss, while disappointing to those collectors who await a sudden jump in value with his demise, has allowed him to indulge that passion. And thus, it is with profound gratitude, that Glen has dedicated the first series of sixteen to Dr. Bob and his wife, Jane Scott.

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