Oceanside Museum of Art (OMA)

Oceanside Museum of Art (OMA)
OMA occupies the venerable 1934 former City of Oceanside City Hall designed by pioneering San Diego architect Irving Gill and the Frederick Fisher designed Central Pavillion opened in 2008.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Interview with William Glen Crooks

Geary and Leavenworkth

Interview with William Glen Crooks

This interview with artist William Glen Crooks (WGC) by Regina Wilson (RW) volunteer/intern under Danielle Deery, Director of Exhibits and Communications at Oceanside Museum of Art, takes place about 6 weeks after the opening of Crook’s exhibition, The Point of View: William Glen Crooks.  The exhibition opened on December 11,2011 with a preview reception on Saturday December 10,2011.  Join us on February 11,2012 at 2 p.m. for a Walk And Talk with William Glen Crooks and Guest Curator Scott White.  The luminous landscapes and nostalgic urban scenes of William Glen Crooks function as interpretive windows of daily life across the western United States.   Marking the first museum exhibition of his work, The Point of View is a retrospective that features over 40 works in oil, watercolor and pencil.

RW:  How did you start out as an artist?
WGC: When I was in the second grade I saw a picture of Fred Flintstone in TV Guide and learned to draw it from memory. I followed that with other characters from that series as well as from "The Jetsons".
As I grew older I graduated to Marvel Comic Super Heroes and began to learn to draw the figure. I learned a lot from Jack Kirby who drew many of the Marvel characters.

RW:  When did you start painting?
WGC: My first painting was around my sixth grade year, and it was from a TV Guide cover as well. It was of Marlo Thomas, who was in a TV show called "That Girl." I don't recall what medium that painting was in, but shortly thereafter my aunts gave me a Jon Nagy "Learn to Draw kit" and also a kit for painting. I remember painting a seascape with the painting kit but I used up all the white on the waves, so I finished them with toothpaste. 

RW:  What was/were the influencers on you?
WGC: I first became aware of "Art" when my parents bought a record album of Liberace's favorite classical music. It was a selection of famous orchestral and piano music. It had fine art reproductions slipped into the two record sleeves. There were a number of reproductions of artists such as Monet, Vermeer, Frans Hals and Da Vinci. I stared at them a lot. My favorites of the group were Rembrandt and Homer. I also listened to the records and became a classical music fan.

RW:  What teachers had an influence on you?
WGC: The person who has had the most influence on me was a teacher at San Diego State University. His name was Prof. Bill Bowne. It was the early seventies, and although I was not enrolled in the university I showed up and asked to be taught. Good man that he was, he took me in like I was an orphan in a storm. I already knew how to draw and paint, but I was missing something. He had a vast knowledge of not only drawing and painting but an extensive command of world art and cultural history. I showed up at his class at 6:00 am, five days a week. I drew, painted and learned then left at 6:00 pm. I did this for four or five years. In 1976, he organized a group tour of Europe and got an associate of his to pay my way. He introduced me to the history of art from Cave Painters to current modernism and showed me the possibilities they held for my work. I use what he taught me to this day. I owe Bill Bowne a great deal.

RW:  Can you talk about your landscapes?
WGC: Landscape was my next great teacher. Years ago my friend and fellow painter Malcolm Nichols asked me to go plein air painting with him. Painting a painting outdoors seemed simple matter to me, having never done one. I held landscape painting and plein air landscape in particular in low regard, so I said with a touch of vanity "Yeah, sure."  We went out to paint and I could not do it. I could not tell what color anything was. I had been using simple color mixtures in the studio but outside they were meaningless. There were no clearly mixable colors outside in daylight only tints of this and half shades of that. I did not know how to mix them. I was lost and the painting was a disaster. I could not stand the defeat. Day after day for years I went out to the Tijuana River valley and Otay Mesa that are near my house and painted plein air. Slowly, I learned how to mix what I was seeing and with that skill came a growing awareness of light. I did many plein airs. As time went on I wanted to paint bigger paintings of the scene I was seeing but it could not be done plein air. So I took photos and painted them on big canvases in my studio using my new knowledge. In the studio, I found that all I had learned about modernism from Bill Bowne now had relevance especially to Rothko. Things he did in his paintings I now stole for my own use. Most of my landscape work since then has been in the studio, and I have branched out to painting the suburbs, cityscapes and figures. I guess light has become my central subject.

RW:  Are you trying to tell the viewer anything?
WGC:   I get something from my paintings that are important to me. What that is can't be said in words only in paint. What other people see in my work should be their own without me spoiling it for them with my opinion. I thank them for looking.

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