Artist Glen Clark on His Show up at the Penticton Art Gallery


Artist Glenn Clark looks over a portrait of his wife, Camille Clarke, in progress at his studio.

This Friday, the Penticton Art Gallery opens itself up for one of it’s own.

For more than 20 years, local artist Glenn Clark has worked at the gallery in a variety of capacities from art preparation, event coordinator, educator and curator. Over the same time, he has also built a strong reputation as an artist, but still, the offer of a retrospective show came as something as a surprise.

“Early on, I knew that I couldn’t really work there and have a show; it would be a conflict of interest,” said Clark. “But Paul (Crawford, gallery curator), he went and got approval from the board of trustees and then he went and got approval from the B.C. Arts Council. Then he asked me if I wanted to do a show.”

Glenn joked that he didn’t know whether to take Crawford seriously. But, he said, at one point it sank in that he wasn’t kidding around. He’s spent the months since getting ready for the show, which opens on Jan. 20.

“It’s all been something of a blur,” he said. “I’ve been gathering up works and doing some framing.”

Glenn Clark: First Person Narrative features more than 100 of Clark’s paintings, going back to his university days.

“I am curious as to whether I am old enough to qualify for a retrospective. At first I laughed: ‘What happened to mid-life? I’m supposed to have a mid-career show or something,” said Clark. “Maybe this is bit of both.”

A portion of the show concentrates on a group of paintings, comprising a life-long personal narrative that Clark began in university.

“It’s at that point that I started a series, almost like a diary. It started out as portraits of me and my friends, then I got a family and that was my focus for 15 years, painting my girls and painting my wife as she got prettier,” he said. “It’s a neat project … this is what I do when I have spare time. When I am not doing commission work or specific projects, I will get into one of these.”

The show also includes a series Clark did on the Penticton Vees as well as his landscapes. Many of the works will be on the large, wall-sized canvasses that are typical of his work.

“Scale is something that evolved. Back when I was a younger artist, a big painting was something like three by four feet,” said Clark. But in the late ‘80s Clark had his eyes opened to the possibilities of size at an exhibition of Attila Lukacs’ work. “He had a painting that was multiple panels, it must have been 20 feet high by 30 feet long.”

Clark was impressed by the ambitiousness of the paintings and decided that scale had no limit.

While the portrait series are finely detailed, Clark’s landscapes are anything but, the result of a conscious decision to try a different style.

“I wanted a new language with my paint, I wanted it to be looser, I wanted it to be fluid and I wanted to eliminate detail, because I know I can be a slave to it,” said Clark, who paints smaller canvasses in the field as sketches to make larger works from. “I find that the 8×10 inch scale that I work with out in the field is just perfect. I can capture a moment.”

Their will be an opening reception at 7 p.m. on Jan. 20 in the gallery for First Person Narrative and Caroline Anders: Chelmsford, which runs concurrently with Clark’s show.

On Jan. 21, Clark will be doing an artist’s talk at 2 p.m., immediately after Anders’ talk at 1 p.m. Both exhibitions continue through March 18.


By Steve Kidd – Penticton Western News

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