THE JUNG CENTER of Houston's exhibit of several radiant paintings by 79-year-old retired architect Joel Hamilton McGlasson, on view through October 30, is a delightful surprise, a celebration of abstraction in all of its guises, and a testament to how, in our golden years, we each can enjoy our own personal, creative renaissance.
Although his childhood talent and passion for making art would lead him to pursue a master's degree at the San Francisco Art Institute, McGlasson put down his brushes in 1974 to become an architect and look after the financial demands of raising a family. But his creative fire never fully extinguished.
After retiring in 2011, McGlasson used his architectural skills to design and build a studio in the Montrose home he grew up in, and immediately began painting upon its completion. In Pete Gershon's excellent notes for the exhibit's catalog, McGlasson explains, "I promised myself when I retired, I would go back to being an artist."
The Jung Center of Houston exhibit is McGlasson's first solo show in 50 years, and includes early works, as well as a suite of recent paintings titled "The Engagement Series." McGlasson created the hundreds upon hundreds of colored dots in these paintings by dipping his fingertips into paint like a kid, and methodically composing familiar and not-so-familiar shapes that seem to materialize in real time before your eyes. Take an even closer look, and you'll discover what appears to be an entirely different, fully-realized painting behind these showers of dots.
In other works, McGlasson lets a various colors of acrylic paint drip downward from the top edge of the canvas, using sticks and other implements to scrape and cross-hatch the results. "I am possessed by the need to make art that is a mystery," states McGlasson on his website, "something to be searched for, but constantly changing its form."
After several decades of searching, McGlasson seems to have found his true calling.