Show Preview | Glenn Dean

Culver City, CA
Maxwell Alexander Gallery, April 12-May 3

Glenn Dean, After the Storm, oil, 16 x 20

Glenn Dean, After the Storm, oil, 16 x 20

This story was featured in the April 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art April 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

“It’s why I live where I do. It’s classic California: rolling hills with oak trees, sycamores, and eucalyptus trees,” declares painter Glenn Dean, referring to the iconic landscape elements of his native state. Beyond that, however, California’s central coast is a perfect jumping-off place for the 37-year-old painter’s frequent plein-air excursions around the Southwest. From Utah’s striking landforms to the ancient cliff walls of Canyon de Chelly, the quintessential landscapes of the Southwest and California are the focus of Dean’s second annual solo exhibition at Maxwell Alexander Gallery in Culver City, CA. Landscapes of the American West opens with an artist’s reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on April 12 and runs through May 3. The show features some two dozen oil paintings in Dean’s distinctive style, which gallery owner Beau Alexander describes as “bold in composition and design, but retaining a sensitivity and passion that keep the viewer intrigued.”

Among the California locations to which the artist returns again and again are the Carmel Valley, the desert, and the gentle hills of a Morro Bay ranch not far from his home. On the coast, his timeless subjects include rocky seascapes and expansive Pacific views from high, windswept bluffs. Other southwestern scenes in this show include sun-struck mesas and an old church gate in a quiet, nocturnal mood. In each geographic region, Dean is especially inspired by massive forms in the landscape and by the ways that other visual elements, including atmosphere and light, interplay with these forms. This aesthetic approach reflects his longtime interest in the style of early western illustrators, as well as early 20th-century painters including Maynard Dixon and Edgar Payne. “Their work is very powerful from a distance and also up close,” he observes. “When I find artists whose work resonates with me, I feel a kinship with them because their work speaks to my own interests and aesthetic ambitions.”

Dean is especially known for capturing the essence of a landscape through his plein-air skills, conveying a clear sense of season, place, time of day, and light. Back in his Cambria, CA, studio, he refers to his extensive collection of oil sketches and on-location paintings to produce larger, more finished works. Yet finding the “landing spot” where a painting feels finished is always an intuitive experience, he notes. The artist’s most recent body of work, while returning with fresh eyes to familiar terrain, reflects his continuous refinement of the balance between saying enough and not saying too much—creating paintings that honor the subjects and feel complete, yet are not overworked. “It’s a matter of letting each piece speak,” he reflects. “A painting has a way of letting me know when it’s done.”

With rapidly growing collector interest in recent years, Dean earned the Golden Thunderbird Award for best of show at the 2013 Maynard Dixon Country exhibition. Also in 2013, his painting DESERT GIANT was acquired for the permanent collection of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Dean’s first annual solo show at Maxwell Alexander Gallery 
almost sold out. —Gussie Fauntleroy

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Featured in the April 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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