For this local artist, the key to success is staying between the lines

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 8/26/21

Scott Glaser, a multimedia artist and new resident of Bristol, has a style that’s hard to pin down. Over the years he’s created works from photorealism to pointillism to mosaic, using …

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For this local artist, the key to success is staying between the lines

Posted

Scott Glaser, a multimedia artist and new resident of Bristol, has a style that’s hard to pin down. Over the years he’s created works from photorealism to pointillism to mosaic, using materials from paint to pen, fabric, and — most recently — bandages. The result is an incredibly varied, eclectic, and appealing body of work that is anything but predictable. The one constant: with every work of art he makes, regardless of medium, he uses the grid system.

Popularized by Renaissance artist Albrecht Durer in the 1500’s, the technique involves dividing both the canvas or paper and the source material into a grid, which allows you to focus on one small part of the image at a time. “With everything I do I use a grid as a starting point,” said Mr. Glaser. “I like the way the grid lets you zero in. Each square becomes a tiny little abstract and you can think about light, dark, shapes and textures.” When he’s done, he leaves the grid in place. “I like people to see the process,” he said.

Adhering to this methodology has allowed Mr. Glaser to build an impressive portfolio including commissions for clients including Hyatt hotels, Kate Spade, China Merchants Bank, the city of Stamford (for which he created the largest mural ever commissioned by that city), Perkins Eastman Architects and others, as well as private collectors from New York, Boston, Palm Beach, Greenwich and Paradise Valley.

Away from his easel, life has not always been so predictable. In 1973, after completing his time at the then-3 year School of Visual Arts in New York, he discovered — from a newspaper headline spotted in Grand Central Station — that his March 6 birthday made him #1 for the draft. In a stroke of good fortune, his school was almost simultaneously accredited as a 4 year institution, and a letter from his dean netted him a temporary deferment; the draft was cancelled the following year.

He went into advertising right out of school, working for a number of firms over the years, in the greater Boston and New York areas, and also struck out both on his own and in partnership with his wife Cheryl, who is also an advertising professional. Together they built a new company in the San Jose, California area, about two months before the dot com bubble cratered.

“We didn’t make a dime,” he said. Pivoting again, they began a line of greeting cards based on his illustrations of their French Bulldog Zsa Zsa (“a complicated woman trapped in a dog’s body”). The line was purchased by a major greeting card company at a Javits Center trade show, and it was at that point that Mr. Glaser began to focus his energies full-time on his fine art, making his home and studio in Westport, Connecticut. “It’s a lot more fun than advertising,” he said.

The Glasers moved to Bristol last year, to a sunlit home with a view of the harbor and plenty of wall space for Mr. Glaser’s artwork and other pieces by several of his and Cheryl’s favorite artists. Unlike so many new East Bay residents, he didn’t flee the New York area due to COVID. A 3 year old granddaughter in the Boston area inspired that move; Cheryl’s brother is also a Bristol resident so they have strong family ties here. But Mr. Glaser admits COVID contributed to the decision.

“The pandemic made it easy to leave Westport,” he said. “The idea that I couldn’t go into the city to galleries and museums….that’s what I lived for.”

These days, Mr. Glaser is focusing on an unusual medium that he discovered serendipitously before one of his sons married a few years ago. He knew he wanted to create a piece of artwork as a gift, but he hadn’t quite hit on a plan. “I woke in middle of night and thought: bandaids,” he said. “My sons and I are all accident prone, so it made sense.”

Using different colored fabric bandaged clipped into mosaic squares, he created a portrait of the groom, which he unveiled at the wedding. “Everyone there thought it was cool so I thought maybe there’s some potential with this.” Mr. Glaser is currently building his portfolio, branching off the “accident prone line” mosaics, which he calls “bandaics.” In addition to portraits of his sons and himself, he’s done one of Vincent Van Gogh (“Ear Today, Gone Tomorrow”) and Aretha Franklin. He’s currently working on a portrait of Civil Rights hero John Lewis, with plans of Stacy Abrams next — the beginning of a series celebrating champions of Civil Rights.

In a new home, filled with new inspiration, Mr. Glaser is looking forward to becoming part of the local arts community, and he’s starting with Bristol Warren Art Night, this Thursday, Aug. 26 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. He will be set up in the tented courtyard on the Linden Place campus, adjacent to the Ballroom and the Bristol Art Museum, and looking forward to meeting local art enthusiasts.

“I’m ready to get the ball rolling again,” he said.

Scott Glaser

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