Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Workshop with Glenn Grishkoff

I'm just back from an intense and constructive workshop organized by Outskirts Gallery owner Kally Thurman of master brushmaker and potter, Glenn Grishkoff.
Glenn appears like one of the dwarfs out of the Hobbit but is better described as a dark haired Russian wearing a buddhist's apron sitting behind a potter's wheel pictured with one of his handmade brushes made of exotic hair from an arctic cariboo set in a handle of bamoo inscribing a tea bowl held in his other hand.
A gracious and sensitive soul, Glenn is one of the few people I have had the honor to know that has become his art. He is so focused on his work and his work has so much to do with his daily life that "he is what he eats."
Glenn studied in Japan for a couple of years emmersing himself in the culture and learning the art of brushmaking and calligraphy. "Japan is the land of opposites. We take rocks out of the garden, they put rocks in the garden. Japan is like going to Mars, says Glenn." He suggests visiting Japan is something every artist would be good to do if only to break out of a myopic view of their world. Like Dave Alexander, Glenn is another teacher that has encouraged me to SEE differently. I am grateful for the opportunity to have attended these workshops, I am happy to see that I am still capable of learning from others.
Although Glen is not a pleinair artist he has appreciation for all art and is happy to see others take from him to use his knowledge in their own work. "All artists borrow from each other but it is important to develop your own vocabulary. Anybody can copy, be original" I was pleased to hear Glenn echo a thought I share. I have always felt part of what I have accomplished is a visual vocabulary. Each time you draw or paint the image becomes part of your memory. Even if the image is made up or an abstraction, once it is deliberately established, the image takes on life of its own and can be replicated.
"Part of being an artist is problem solving." I never gave much thought to my tools other than the fact that a round or a flat or a sable or a bristle accomplished what I needed in my work. Glenn is "Bridging what is functional and non-functional." Glenn will build a brush that is a sculpture in its own right, use it to make a mark on cloth and then hang that brush with the work as if the image on cloth is the voice of the brush then elevates the whole process by hanging it together as an artifact of the event. This is an oversimplification of the many levels of concept I haven't expanded on in his work but what is so beautiful is that he can do it in front of you allowing you to see and experience FINE art being made allowing you to take away with you both the pragmatic skills needed to expand your own vocabulary but also inspiring you to take your own work to a new level. Thankyou Glenn and Thankyou Kally for the opportunity. Namaste'.