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G. B. Tate 和儿子艺术

Emerson Everett Glass
(西 部美国印象主义者的风景油画,  1916年- 1987)

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"Scarred for life in the fire of an old southern plantation, and stumbling into the care of impressionist master, Birger Sandzen... this is the story of E. E. Glass. A story of resurrection and redemption, of the unconditional love of two women and a life's calling to unappreciated creativity"

Emerson Everett Glass was born in poverty and died in poverty, having never sold a painting.  Glass's father was a foreman on a cotton plantation in the deep south, near the town of Clinton, Louisiana.  At the age of seven, a fire destroyed the boy's home and his father and mother died in the blaze.  Emerson himself was badly burned and scarred for life on the left side of his face and upper body... leaving him scarred in more ways than one.

A plantation worker took the young boy in and cared for him till he left home at the age of 23.  "Mammi Jax" was a black woman, born and raised as a plantation slave and served as cook for the master of the plantation.  The deformed Emerson Glass was worth little more than an object of abuse in southern society, even for a white boy... but to Mammi Jax, he was the son she never had, and always spoke to the boy as if he was the Prince of Baton Rouge, destined for greatness.  To the rest of the world, a boy with no education, no social acceptance and no hope for the future... EE Glass was a castaway.

When Glass was 13, the great depression hit this country like those freight trains that roared through Clinton but never stopped.  Nonetheless, despite the lack of education, Emerson found ways to make his own colors... from red clays and roots and berries, to rocks and bits of cloth ground into pigments, Glass rubbed his rudimentary pigments together and stored them in jars, spreading them onto cardboard panels with twigs and branches.   He would get off by himself for days at a time, spreading his handmade colors on bits of cardboard and shirt stuffers he was given from grocery stores and laundry services.  He knew nothing of government help for artists during the years of FDR and the WPA.  He simply worked alone in fields, far from civilization and the pain of exposure to society.

Prior to the death of Mammi Jax, Glass had never seen a real painting, met an artist or been to a museum.  He was 23.  Yet in Montgomery, Alabama, Emerson Glass found his first exposure... a show of the great impressionists at the Museum of Fine Art.   He wept in delight at the sight of the great masters... Renoir, Monet, Pissarro and others of the early modernist movements.  Color just for the sake of color became a new source of passion for Glass.  He took jobs washing dishes and sweeping floors so he could buy colors he had never seen before.  Slowly but surely, he grew in skill and determination to paint.

Emerson Glass met Birger Sandzen in Lindsborg, Kansas during a brief stopover when he was around 30 years old.  By invitation, he stayed briefly to study with the artist before continuing west.  Glass did not attend Bethany College, but found a compassionate and understanding friend in the older artist.  Emerson always spoke of Sandzen in the most affectionate of terms, as he was one of the few people who ever treated him with dignity and respect.  Sandzen's influence on him went deep, far beyond the teaching of artistic techniques and methods.  This influence is quite evident in his work, despite the fact that Glass had a demanding eye for detail and was a careful draftsman.  From the day they met, Emerson Glass and Birger Sandzen were linked together in vision and purpose.

It is known that he met William H. Walker, presumably in Kansas City.  Walker described him as an "innovative post-runner of the American impressionists".  The influence of other artists can be found only by conjecture to associate with the work of EE Glass.  Because of his awkward appearance, he avoided public exposure and would not engage in social events so necessary for emerging artists of his day.  Without galleries or patrons, EE Glass was destined for obscurity for the rest of his life.

In 1954, Emerson met Nina Brandt.  The couple seemed like a perfect if not serendipitous match, for she was blind and he was deformed.  Under common law marriage, they lived together for the remainder of Emerson's life, when he died after a lingering respiratory illness at the age of 71 in a tiny apartment in a rural area south of Kansas City, Missouri.  What Nina did for Emerson was support his desire to see what she couldn't... the wide horizons of the great midwest, from the abundant wildlife and fields of grain to the majesty of the Rocky Mountains.  There is no evidence that they ever traveled east of the Mississippi River.

Nina was able to obtain government disability support, most of which was used for painting materials and travel expenses for she and her husband.  In return, Emerson taught her to read Braille... this despite the fact that he was a poor reader.  Yet in his own words, he could "feel the language with her", and they both learned from books without print.

Among his artworks, there was found a curious print from Birger Sandzen that Glass had colored in watercolor.  It was signed by both artists and carried a label from Old Estes, a gallery in Estes Park, Colorado.  There is no record of Emerson Glass ever exhibiting his work there and, as far as is known, he never sold a painting.  The fact that he and Nina lived in the barest of circumstances was never a hindrance to their happiness together, and their privacy and seclusion was just what they liked.

The bulk of E. E. Glass paintings extant were executed between 1965 and 1985, which was the most active period for the artist.  The very early works are essentially non-existent.  Works prior to 1940 were done with such poor materials and were of such relatively poor quality, that they have deteriorated beyond usefulness.  When Glass began to use better materials, his learning curve and progress as an artist was slower, and he didn't begin show his mature style until the mid 60's.  The finest work and the boldest color is found in the artist's paintings done between circa 1967 and 1978.  He kept no journal or records, so these dates are all approximate, taken from lengthy discussions with Nina Glass.

POST NOTE:  Nina Glass died in March, 2007.  Two years prior to her death, and having no children or other relatives, she entrusted the estate of her husband's work to her executors and G. B. Tate & Sons of Laramie, Wyoming.  Mrs. Glass was a grand lady who's quiet manner spoke of an elegance that belied her circumstances.  It was agreed not to offer or display her late husband's work until after her own death... for she could not stand the thought of any further rejection of her late husband or his work.  This was an absurd notion, seeing the exceptional quality of Emerson's work, and yet the agreement has been honored to the letter.

Emerson Everett Glass (American, 1916 - 1987)
Born near Clinton, Louisiana - Died near Kansas City, Missouri

Painter in oils - Impressionist landscapes Influenced by the European Impressionists
Had a continuing close relationship with Birger Sandzen
Worked in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and into California
Biographical information obtained from Nina Glass, artist's widow
Written by Gayle B. Tate, owner of G. B. Tate & Sons Fine Art, Laramie, Wyoming