Depicting the mystery of glaciers through art at the Lemon Grove Branch Library

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WEBEllen Glasgow stands by an oil on linen she painted of a glacier in Alaska..jpg

The Lemon Grove Library held the first of its series of Art Talks last week, featuring  Kentucky-based artist Ellen Glasgow. Her exhibit of abstract-quality monotypes and oil paintings depicts the nuances of light and color in the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska’s Inside Passage.

Glasgow, 77, began her work when she was stationed with her Coast Guard husband on Annette Island, a tiny remote island off the western shore of Alaska. The remote location is where Glasgow began her lifelong love of painting.

The Lemon Grove Library held the first of its series of Art Talks last week, featuring  Kentucky-based artist Ellen Glasgow. Her exhibit of abstract-quality monotypes and oil paintings depicts the nuances of light and color in the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska’s Inside Passage.

Glasgow, 77, began her work when she was stationed with her Coast Guard husband on Annette Island, a tiny remote island off the western shore of Alaska. The remote location is where Glasgow began her lifelong love of painting.

The isolation of the island where she and her husband were stationed 51 years ago was so drastic that there were no modern conveniences, not even a grocery store or a doctor. Airplanes landed and lifted off the island dropping off supplies.

“There wasn’t a lot to do except fish and enjoy the outdoors. It was a beautiful place of forests, mountains and glaciers. So I started painting,” Glasgow said.

After she and her husband moved from place to place, eventually ending up in Kentucky, Glasgow continued to paint. For her 50th wedding anniversary, Glasgow and her husband went on a cruise through all the inland passages in Alaska. 

“I wanted to go back to see if it was still as isolated and beautiful. And yes, it is,” said Glasgow. 

Glasgow also enjoyed an once-in-a-lifetime close-up look at the Hubbard Glacier that towers as high as 600 feet. Located in eastern Alaska, the ice on the bottom is about 400 years old. The newer sheets of ice on top of the older ones constantly move and change.  

“The noise of the glacier was incredible. It sounded like a rifle shot when pieces broke off. It moaned and crackled, and when the pieces fell into the ocean, the splash was so big that it rocked the ship,” she said.

Changes in light and color within the glacier appeared almost ghostly at times, something that impressed Glasgow. When she returned from the trip to her Kentucky home, she set to work making a series of monotypes, a method of making prints by painting a plate with ink and transferring the image. That means that each of the prints is one-of-a-kind.

“It’s faster than oil painting because it dries almost instantly. Between each layer of color, you can clean the plate or not depending on what effect you want. It’s a great opportunity to try different colors,” Glasgow said.

This technique of making prints is a powerful way to depict the way that ice changes in appearance. 

“Ice can get beautiful colors,” Glasgow said.

Lemon Grove resident Pat Bryan has seen glaciers herself.

“She’s got it right with the idea that the way ice moves around and changes,” Bryan said.

Owner and director of the Capital Gallery of Contemporary Art in Frankfort, Kentucky, Glasgow has traveled around the world, with a keen eye out for nature’s rugged and simple lines in seascapes, rivers, and mountains. Over the past decade, Glasgow has led painting workshops to the Outer Banks of North Carolina as well as Europe.

She has made good friends all over the world in her travels, including Sharon Moore, the deputy director of San Diego County Library. The two met when Moore worked in a library in Louisville, Kentucky where Glasgow was living.

“I’m very excited about this exhibit and the fact that I get to bring art from my old home-state Kentucky. Personally, I happen to love monotype prints like Glasgow has done here,” Moore said.

Moore said that it is the mission of the County Library system to get educate more people in a variety of subjects, including art. More Art Talks will take place at the Lemon Grove Library. For more information, contact the Lemon Grove Library at (619) 463-9810 or visit www.sdcl.org.

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