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The Scarlet & Black

Sidney Glos ’21 opens “Friends and Strangers”

On September 26 from 3:30 to 5:00, Relish will open “Friends and Strangers,” an exhibition of paintings from Sidney Glos ’21. “Friends and Strangers” is a collection of paintings completed in the past year in Glos’ studio in Grinnell. The S&B’s co-editors-in-chief, Jackson Schulte and Tommy O’Donnell, both ’20, sat down with Glos to discuss how he put the show together.

The S&B: What went into getting a show put together at Relish?

Glos: I work at Relish, but I also rent a studio from Kamal, the owner. It’s sort of been in conversation for a few months with the idea that when I had enough paintings, we’d do a show.

The S&B: What drew you to painting figures?

Glos: What I’ve been doing in the last few years is trying to follow in the footsteps of artists that I like. I spend a lot of time looking at their paintings, so I’m trying to pay my debts. Painters like Lucian Freud, Henry Taylor, Noah Davis, Alice Neel and Frank Auerbach, to name a few. I’ve decided to postpone serious self-judgment until I’m at least thirty years old. Until then I’m excusing myself from any introspection.

The S&B: What draws you to those painters that you mentioned?

Glos: It’s ultimately that the distinction between figurative and abstract isn’t one I’m interested in. I mean there are certain painters I would never think about painting like in terms of mimicking style or technique. It’s more about the painter’s relationship with the paint.

The S&B: What, aside from other painters, has been informing your work? I mean, it’s mostly paintings of your friends.

Glos: I’d have to assume that everything is filtering in. At some point I wanted to stop painting from photographs. I don’t think there’s a right way to go about painting, but I’ve been focusing on paintings from life. From there it’s only natural that I’m painting people I have relationships with.

The S&B: When did you make these paintings?

Glos: There are nine paintings in the show. Six of them were made this past summer while I was in Grinnell doing a MAP with Todd Armstrong, [professor of Russian]. The other three were made last spring. I ended up taking the spring semester off in order to focus more on painting and I think ultimately it was a decision that paid off. It was very productive and I think the year has been good.

The S&B: You have paintings in the show of Keli Vitaioli ’19 and Sophia DeLeonibus ’19. What have you found valuable in working with friends?

Glos: They were good friends of mine who were here this summer. I can’t remember the amount of sittings it took, but they would come once or twice a week around 2:00. There’s always a chance of things being awkward when you’re painting people. But it was very natural. They’re both in Paris right now, working as au pairs.

The S&B: What about the title, “Friends and Strangers?” Who are the friends and who are the strangers?

Glos: When I was thinking of names for the show, it was suggested to me that they’re all your friends, so call it “Friends”… Well, the exception was the two people playing tennis, who were actually done from photos sent to me by Melissa Fandos ’17. I think she’s an absolutely amazing artist and photographer, and I had these kind of laying around for a while. But I ended up doing these, and a lot of the credit has to go to her for the composition and things. The tennis players are the obvious strangers of the show, as I have no idea who they are. There’s something to the point of how well you actually know people, too. There’s a painting of my grandfather on a horse, and I’m sure something could be said about the more ambiguous relationships we have with both friends and strangers.


The S&B: I see you keep a lot of plants around your apartment and studio. Why?

Glos: I find it very relaxing–my plant maintenance. They’re really the perfect roommates. They’re much cleaner than their human counterparts.

The S&B: Do you have a favorite?

Glos: I really like all my spider plants. They just make these little babies, and I think it’s pretty great. They’re cloning themselves. They make little versions of themselves and spread them around.

The S&B: Have there been meaningful moments to you during college that have informed your painting?

Glos: After my first year at Grinnell I went to the Art Institute of Chicago. I specifically remember stopping at a Philip Guston painting they have, I can’t think of the title. I had seen Guston before, but at this moment I was transfixed. I realized the economy of a single stroke and what that could accomplish on the canvas. I resolved to try to match that. Like I said earlier, I think I’m paying my debts to Guston and co.

The S&B: Your mom is a painter in Seattle. What did you learn from her growing up?

Glos: Obviously that’s had a big influence. I sort of grew up in the thick of it when it comes to the life of an artist. My first instinct as a child was to run as far from it as possible. I always liked drawing, as I assume most children do. But no, I thought I wanted to be a professional soccer player. It really wasn’t until I got away, to Grinnell, that I started taking it more seriously as something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Sidney Glos ’21 will be featuring his paintings in “Friends and Strangers” at Relish. Photo by Jackson Schulte.
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