Percy Bysshe Shelley the English Romantic poet once wrote “Art lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.” Shelley was regarded as one of the finest lyric poets in the English language, and was a key member of a close circle of visionary poets and writers.
On the Westside of Santa Cruz, there is a beautiful meandering Japanese-style garden. The brick path leads past the garden to the studio of another visionary artist, Glenn Carter. Lifting the veil and making familiar objects transform into new forms and taking on new meanings is his work. Glenn is a combination of assemblage artist, alchemist, Eastern philosopher and poet. He sees himself as a guest in the universe and marries matter and materials together in his ongoing investigation of nature and its elemental forces. Glenn, a former contractor and self-taught artist is most comfortable with a palette of found objects, antique remnants, alchemic mixing materials and the skill and sensitivity to transform them all into major works of art.
Walking through his studio, one sees the alchemic combination of materials at work in Glenn’s art. Heavy steel doors from a vault standing next to thinly stained gauze strips, paint and material sample and experiments placed throughout the studio, a 17-foot-high canvas next to delicately written pencil notations on drywall, thin strands of string beside large mahogany beams. This is Glenn Carter’s universe and these are some of the tools he uses to explore that universe.
‘Passing Through the Veil’ Glenn’s first solo exhibition in two years will be at the Monterey Peninsula College Art Gallery. The show runs March 12 through April 12 and consists of recent mixed-media large scale wall works. His work explores diverse philosophical and theistic approaches to the mysteries of creation and degeneration.
I caught up with Glenn at his studio to talk about “Passing Through the Veil.”
Kirby Scudder: Your work is often layered with subtle changes of textures veiling the original images left behind. What is the origin of ‘Passing Through the Veil’?
Glenn Carter: I have been working on many of these pieces for a long time and when the opportunity arose to have the show in Monterey I started to rework some of them. It was through working on the pieces that I began to realize that there was an underlying theme that was coming through the work and is philosophically linked to the veil. Theistically as well. As I continued to work my subconscious really began to come into play. In the work “Memories in the Medicine Blanket,” I have a large cloth that covers a sculptural mound that a large root will come out of. I have layered threads on top of the canvas that highlight the topography of the form. Below is a side elevation view of the work above allowing you to see the layers. The veil can be many things. As you were referencing the veil can cover other images, but it can also be a metaphor for a passage of time or transitioning.
KS: In your piece “Reflections through the Bridal Veil” you pay homage to your parents. What is the back story on that work?
GC: The way that this turned into a memorial or a reflection on my parents. When I was very young, I think I was 3 years old. My parents took us up to Yosemite and carried my brother and I up Vernal Falls. We went up these granite stairs and so there was this whole experience of shadow and sound and mist and light. That experience was the first very dynamic memory that I have that influenced my work. I grew up Catholic so it has this real altar quality to it as well. I have taken many photographs of the falls and for this piece I wanted to recreate that image in paint. I have taken the image and placed a grid over it so that I can replicate the pattern of the water falling. I really wanted to make sure that I captured the flow of the water. On the ground you can see the floor catching the drippings of the paint as if it is a wading pond below the falls. There is a large altar in the middle of the piece with candles at the top and stones and ash below. I think of my work in terms of metaphor.
Walking down the brick path towards the street I noticed a series of spider webs on a lemon tree. Each web shadowing the next giving the impression of a bridal veil.
For more information about Glenn Carter, go to glenncarterartist.com.
Kirby Scudder is the director of the Santa Cruz Institute of Contemporary Art. Details: