‘Giants’ exhibit focuses on James Dean’s last film
Glynn’s works honors movie’s characters
Although mixed-media visual artist Miles Glynn says he’s not a movie buff, James Dean’s last film, “Giant,” inspired him to create his new exhibit that will open Feb. 12 at the Prospect Gallery.
The film, which premiered a year after Dean was killed in a car accident in 1955, is deemed by the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” While Glynn wasn’t familiar with the movie, he was introduced to it during a trip to Texas last summer.
While delivering art to a gallery in San Antonio, Glynn heard of a little West Texas town called Marfa, where George Stevens filmed the epic tale about a rancher, played by Dean, and his family.
“I just heard that the town was a kind of interesting, quirky and highly ‘Instagram-able’ place, so I decided to go out of my way to see what it was all about,” he said. When I got there, I saw this large-scale outdoor installation artwork by John Cerney on the side of the road in the desert.”
The pieces were building-sized cut-out images of the film’s stars, James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson, as well as other elements of the movie, according to Glynn.
“I really appreciated these works, and since I didn’t know much about the movie, decided to do some research,” he said. “After I finally watched the movie, the imagery coincided with artworks that I was doing that had been segueing into contemporary Western figures.”
Glynn then began creating an array of singles and diptychs based on the film’s characters.
“The more I learned about the movie, the more I wanted to do something with the images of these actors in Western garb,” he said.
The town also inspired Glynn’s work.
“Marfa is an interesting juxtaposition of being a dusty cow town and an uber-modern hipster town,” he said. “It still has a population of 1,800, and the closest major airport is three hours away. But you may see someone like Matthew McConaughey at one of the diners.”
The Prospect Gallery exhibit will feature at least 17 works that range in size from 48 inches by 48 inches to 96 inches by 60 inches, according to Glynn.
“I may sneak one more in if I get it done,” he said.
“Giants” is the latest visual endeavor of Glynn’s career that doesn’t include a formal or extensive background in art.
“I do, however, lend a lot of my creativity to my upbringing,” he said. “My dad was a photojournalist in the Army, and from as early as I can remember I tagged along on some of his assignments or worked with him in the darkroom.”
Seeing his father’s images appear in old-school developing trays showed Glynn the power of a photograph.
“In hindsight, I wish I would have paid attention to a whole lot more of what he did, but hanging around in the creative environment helped me see how these photos could convey a story,” he said.
Glynn reflected on that lesson when he moved to Montana a decade ago.
“I was inspired by the natural landscape and the wildlife, and I began doing more photography on my own,” he said.
Those photos led Glynn to the next step of his creative evolution, his first bona fide art series called “Wallflowers.”
“I combined animal photographs with antique wallpaper to create mixed-media pieces,” he said.
The art attracted Prospect Gallery owner Colby Larsen, who eventually began to represent Glynn.
“I kept following those ideas, and have since gravitated further away from photography,” Glynn said.
These days, the artist creates a substantial amount of traditional silk screen printing in his works, which include the “Giants” series.
“Like with these pieces, I continue to look at things while trying to find ways to put them into a work,” he said. “I’m always ready to be receptive to things that stand out to me, but also keep in mind that the images are still the core of telling stories.”
When: Opens Friday, Feb. 12
Where: The Prospect Gallery, 573 Main St.
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