Artist Reception July 12th, 6-8pm
Jerry Glaser brings together in his “expo 68 art & design” exhibit a synthesis of elements that distinguish him from other contemporary American artists: a poetic sense of form (harmony of design); a keen and journalistic sense of social history; wit (the juxtaposition of contrastive images and objects); nostalgia for a period, now lost, the 1950’s, that shaped his development as a creative person, inflections of Hebraic culture, and an awareness of the trends and events that brought his favored decade to an end in the upheaval of the 1960’s.
Although the essential atmosphere of this series – and Jerry’s work is best seen as a collection of chronologically related artifacts – is essentially upbeat (like the popular music it cites), there are disturbing elements as well: a representation of JFK’s assassination, inner city riots, the McCarthy period. A child of the 1950’s, the artist didn’t remain one.
The artist’s retrospective joy in capturing the wonder of Willie May’s magical 1953 catch (“The Catch”) is balanced by the immediate sense that such a moment cannot be relived – only celebrated in a kind of time-capsule. It’s no wonder that the artist entitles what may be the major piece in the show, “American
Time Traveler.” His time-line helps us revise ours. His visual autobiography helps us become memoirists.
Jerry Glaser documents generational time
through the use of photographs, texts (news clips), high school yearbook images, vinyl disks, and everyday objects that the artist has chosen (not found), so that each work becomes a kind of curio cabinet. Together, they make up a mini-museum. He creates and curates a world.
Jerry Glaser, for all of his interest in American life across the board, so to speak, has a special fondness for Jewish American icons such as Sandy Koufax (“When Jewish Kids Believed In Idols”). The use of the past tense, “believed,” reflects the melancholy of celebrating a lost past. Jerry Glaser is no Marcel Proust (but who is?) of the palette, but there are connections.
As for the palette: each piece has a paint brush affixed to it to remind us that what we are looking at is a created field of associations, not a random selection.
Reality has been rearranged on a surface where
solidity and specificity of objective representation is set against a Jackson Pollock like pulsating network of lines that alerts us to the impermanence of what we long to be permanent: the dreams of our youth. In this sense, Jerry Glaser integrates different methods of 19thand 20thcentury art as an artist and art historian.
No one does better what Jerry Glaser does, and his achievement is best understood when his life’s work in his version of mixed-media and conceptual art are seen all together (a personal MoMA) – for then it’s clear that he has a comprehensive sense of the history of our time.
His work is unique. His paint brush is his signature – his Alfred Hitchcock appearance in his “made” objects, his “Kilroy was here!”
Dr. Howard R. Wolf
Emeritus Professor of English (UB)