Exhibition Reviews | Visual Arts

Picking Favorites Among Josanne Glass’ Abstract Works at Phillips

Josanne Glass, “Tierra y Cielo,” acrylic on paper,
22 1/2 x 23 in.

If you have ever been to an exhibit of (even slightly) heterogeneous works and found yourself wishing the artist had leaned more into one direction rather than another, you know the feeling. It’s a presumptuous one, the desire to tell an artist what direction she should follow, but we all succumb to it from time to time. 

In Josanne Glass’ current exhibit at Phillips Gallery I would have welcomed a half dozen or more works along the lines of “Tierra y Cielo.” Maybe it’s the visual resonance with cairns in the stacked forms. Or the way Glass takes the idea of contained expression, explored in other works, and pushes it just a bit further. The colors are nice as well.

Glass’ exhibit, which is showing concurrently with Steve Dayton’s works on the gallery’s main floor, comprises more than a dozen medium sized works on paper in addition to several smaller works. They are minimal in composition, largely oriented on a horizontal axis, the palette of each reduced to one or two dominate hues. Nothing ever gets too out of hand. The reference to the landscape is visually implied in most works, and made explicit in the titles — all in Spanish, to honor the artist’s mother, “a native Spanish speaker, who recently mostly stopped speaking.”  Texture is important, enlivening the reduced compositions. In some of it, you may see the influence of weaving, the first art form the artist took up after leaving the corporate world for art. 

Josanne Glass, “El Mar,” acrylic on paper, 22.5 x 23 in.

Her works have matured, both in and vision and execution, since we first profiled Glass back in 2014. There’s a command of expression and delicacy of touch. Several of the paintings are broadly expressionistic works, all centralized brush work; others nod towards minimalism, with a reduction in composition, palette and form. But maybe I won’t be alone in leaning towards works like “La Playa al Anochecer, una Variación” (an unframed work) where variations in textural expression are contained in bands that play off one another. 

Which leads us to “Tierra y Cielo” (“Earth and Sky”), where the corners are cut, objects delineated and fore and ground become explicit. It’s a simple shift, but one that changes everything. If I were a cigar-smoking music exec, this is the one I would pick for the hit single.

Josanne Glass, “La Playa al Anochecer, una Variación,” 18.5 x 18.75 in.

Josanne Glass, Phillips Gallery, Salt Lake City, through Mar. 11

1 reply »

  1. Thank you Shawn! A lot of life, and paint, since 2014!

    And probably more than you need, or want, to know – most of the pieces were very loosely based on Tampico, Mexico where my mother was born and raised.
    Tampico is on a major river and 6 miles from the Gulf of Mexico hence all the water (even the vertical line piece, El Chairel, is loosely based on a reed filled lagoon where I used to row with my grandfather).. There are fields of sorghum and sugarcane grown nearby.

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