Marcus Glenn was born in 1968 in Detroit, Michigan. His first introduction to art was at the age of 5 when his kindergarten teacher asked him to illustrate a board that was in the classroom. Finding his passion, he decided to go to art school, attending the Center for Creative Studies (now College for Creative Studies) in Detroit. Glenn credits his artistic skills as God-given ability and to studying artists like Picasso, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Benny Andrews and Ernie Barnes.
Glenn is one of the most exciting young artists to emerge in recent years. His work deals with issues that continue to fascinate him, like the creative process of making art, the solitary experience of the artist, the dialog between art and the viewer, and music (mostly Jazz). Marcus will often pay homage to other artists by incorporating their work into his imagery in his series, “A Day at the Gallery.” Many viewers enjoy stepping into his realm of colorful and unique imagery, inspired by the rhythm and blues within his compositions.
His works are often peppered with symbolism, most apparent in his colorful floorboards. Marcus paints with “the palette of God,” something that kept him grounded when his career began to spike. His floorboards jut at different angles – a spectrum of colors – and provide a “foundation of love” for humankind. His figures are animated and mannerist in approach, often stretching and twisting into impossible positions. Glenn says that he elongates his figures, breathing life into their instruments as they become one through the element of jazz.
Glenn’s works are heavily jazz-infused, he’s not actually a musician himself. When he was growing up, his father was an avid jazz collector. Glenn remembers listening to the records, capturing that moment in time. When he began painting from these memories, he liberated the vision of the characters and instruments like the creativity within the jazz.
The way each character moves comes from a deep interest in anatomy and figure study. The way a person walks, holds a glass, and moves in general defines a kind of beauty for the artist that is universal and amazing.
As an artist, Glenn is known for his use of bright colors and his expressive use of paper and fabric, creating a masterful textured collage effect. While he gets a good amount of his supplies from local art stores, the fabrics he uses are often passed through his family, while others have a much higher price point. He combines painting and sculpture in a bas-relief effect, calling his style “Flat Life,” which he has developed for more than a decade. Marcus is always trying to further hone this style, enhancing his technique and taking his collages to the next level.
Glenn likes to paint straight on to board, rather than canvas, tearing paper and fabrics to build his collage. When creating his instruments and characters, he uses illustration board, sketching them first before they’re cut out, painted, and added to the work. Once it’s finished, he needs to live with it for two to three days, adjusting it later if necessary.
When he’s in his studio, Glenn goes into a near trance, forgetting the world around him. He’ll work for 14 hours without eating or leaving, unaware until his wife calls him to attention. For the artist, though, painting is incredibly liberating, removing all of his stress. Without painting, Marcus says his life would be boring and unfulfilled.
In 1988, at the age of 20, Glenn participated in his first public art exhibition hosted by Gerald Marant Gallery and former Detroit Pistons player, John Salley. The group exhibition featured nationally known artists Annie Lee, Carl Owens, and Gilbert Young.
Also working as a freelance cartoonist, he became the first African American and the youngest cartoonist in the Detroit News. His comic strip, “Double Trouble”, was published daily in The Detroit News and ran for three years. The strip was based on his twin daughters, 6 years old at the time, telling stories about the exciting and hilarious moments he encountered as they grew up. His career as a cartoonist only enhanced his painting, giving him the tools to tell his stories through other media.
In 1998, Glenn was commissioned by Daimler-Chrysler to paint a mural. Later that year, he was commissioned by renowned restaurateur, Patrick Coleman, for a mural. And In 1999, he was featured in a group exhibition hosted by Daimler-Chrysler.
In August of 2005, Glenn’s work was featured in his first museum exhibition held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. The museum now hosts one of his paintings in their permanent collection. The artist spends much of his time with Park West at Sea, sharing his artwork.
To learn more about the Marcus Glenn Collection at Park West Gallery, please visit www.parkwest-glenn.com.