While he’s an artist, not a cowboy, Glenn Dean greatly relates to the solitude of the cowboy way of life. He says lone figures on horseback—as well as any solitary figure in nature—resonate with him on a spiritual level and appeal to his personal aesthetic, as an atmosphere of quietude is one he empathizes with and enjoys.
“It speaks to me on a tangible level of lifestyle, as much of my time as an artist, whether in the field or in the studio, is spent alone,” says Dean, “not alone in a lonely sense, but in a place separate from distractions. It’s a necessary isolation in order to be able to observe and feel, to process and think—and to work.”
Dean’s exhibition of more than 10 paintings at Maxwell Alexander Gallery in Culver City, California, is titled The American West, featuring shots of cattlemen and explorers in the open range, often inspired by subjects he considers friends. In his current town of Cambria, California, Dean is surrounded by large, working cattle ranches, finding people to paint through friends and working with them throughout the past year to capture their essence.
In his oil No Sign of His Cattle, viewers see the back of a cowboy on horseback, with Dean focusing on the strong shape the horse and rider make together on a relatively featureless landscape. The oil Twilight Moon highlights the rider’s relationship between the rising moon and the rocky hillside, with Dean saying he was attracted to the idea of the circular flow in the piece.
Besides drawing inspiration from his real- life neighbors, Dean also travels to Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nevada to gather ideas for landscapes. He has only been prominently featuring figures in his works for the past two years, says Maxwell Alexander Gallery director/owner Beau Alexander, so this exhibition shows collectors a fresh side to the artist.
“This new direction hasn’t strayed from his greatest attributes: composition, color, sophisticated simplification and strong emotion in his work,” Alexander says. “Longtime collectors, as well as new fans, are on a waiting list to get a glimpse at this new body of work he has been finely crafting in his California studio. It is always such an exciting time to unpack Glenn’s new paintings and get the first look at his genius work.”
One of Dean’s longtime collectors, Hoffman Art Institute founder Peter Hoffman, owns six of Dean’s works and says the painter is able to richly capture emotion in his work, his subtle use of color adding a deep psychological aspect to his paintings.
“Wonderfully, Glenn’s paintings reflect his understanding of the interconnectedness of all things,” Hoffman says. “There is an aliveness, regardless of the terrain, and his sense of atmosphere is remarkable. Glenn is a technically accomplished artist, and these skills help him create a subtle temperature effect without having to knock you down in order to communicate his message. He gently invites you to thoroughly explore a scene and experience the feelings associated with the setting at that given moment, and I find that very compelling. Understated power and deep psychological understanding makes for quite a combination.”
Dean is hesitant to name specific locations in his pieces, as he hopes to capture the overall experience of a place, which could reflect an entire region, or an entire culture, which he hopes translates to his audiences.
“I hope viewers feel just a bit of what I see in this subject,” Dean says. “I see a beauty in the connection between horse, rider and landscape, that I hope translates to my work.”