IN THE STUDIO WITH GLEN BALDRIDGE
A Warm Welcome to His Maine Home Unravels A Tale of Cowboys, 90s Music, Forests & Wonder
I am not cool enough to know Glen Baldridge on my own. In fact, I had to be introduced to him by his sanguine wife Louise Sheldon, who went to the same boarding school (Pomfret) as me. In his career as an artist, Glen has successfully started a fine art print publishing company in Brooklyn, called Forth Estate, as well as has been collected by key art institutions including The Met, MoMA, and The Whitney. Today he continues to push his career forward from his home and studio, just north of Portland, Maine, and is regularly featured in solo shows in New York, The Hamptons, and soon Litchfield County.
Luckily I am close with Louise. I am close in that boarding school way where months enclosed in dorm rooms and high-school drama bonds you for life. We may not see each for a year or two at a time, but we always instantly reconnect from where we left off. And I am grateful she has kept me in her life. From dinner parties at her and Glen's former home in Bed-Stuy, to meeting their baby son Gibby at only 6 months old, to spending early summer days together with my partner and photographer, Theo Coulombe, and our dog, Otis, at their new home in Maine.
I suppose that closeness is why Glen and Louise have asked my help in communicating the news of his latest solo show, Wigwag, at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery in Tribeca, New York. Featuring stylized images of owls, branches, colorfully ambiguous figures and acorns, each work is meticulously hand painted with accumulated multicolor brushstrokes done in “wigwag” patterns. Through pouring over past essays, accompanying my partner Theo on a photoshoot to Glen's studio, and asking my typical type of questions, I now see that along with cool there are layers of western wilderness, 90s pop-culture, subtle humor, and a child's wonder about the forest.
No Way, 2022
gouache on paper
38 3/8 × 27 1/2 inches (97.47 × 69.85 cm)
41 1/2 × 30 1/2 inches (105.41 × 77.47 cm) (framed)
Growing up in Great Falls Montana, what is your first memory of art?
My first exposure was definitely to Western art. Charles M Russell, “The Cowboy Artist,” lived and worked in Great Falls and was also the namesake of my high school. I grew up going to his museum and preserved studio building and to the equivalent of a Western art fair at the hotel in my neighborhood.
This influence was mixed with the early 90’s alternative music’s prints, posters, and zines which really served as a lifeline to artistic things happening outside of the state.
gouache on paper
58 × 39 inches (147.32 × 99.06 cm)
61 1/4 × 42 1/2 inches (155.58 × 107.95 cm) (framed)
When did you know you wanted to pursue a career as an artist?
It was after finding out that art school existed and realizing I could do that. I worked part time at the front desk of a local art museum, Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art , during high-school and was lucky to be mentored by the museum director there. `She helped me put together a portfolio and we had a lot of talks about ‘being an artist’ while fly-fishing together.
Tell us about your time at RISD. Why did you focus on printmaking, which artists were inspiring you at the time, and how would you describe the art you are making?
I always liked the collaborative atmosphere of the printshop and continual problem solving involved with all the print processes. It was a great time to be in Providence and be surrounded by so many talented people. I was most directly influenced by the art, music, and posters coming from the artists at Fort Thunder. I was very much still figuring out my artistic voice, but it felt like a time of endless possibilities. I have really continued on with my love for printmaking; incorporating it into my practice and learning so much from collaborating with other artists and printmakers through contract work and publishing prints myself.
Guys, What?, 2022
gouache on paper
58 × 38 1/2 inches (147.32 × 97.79 cm)
59 3/4 × 42 1/4 inches (151.77 × 107.32 cm) (framed)
What are some of your biggest challenges while building your career in Brooklyn?
I had a million jobs and sometimes all at once. I remember installing a show for an artist I fabricated for and running two print fair booths (for my company Forth Estate and CRG Gallery, where I ran the print program) all in the same weekend. I always feel like I’m still figuring it out as I go. Shifting gears from one thing to another was always a crazy juggle.
How has marriage, fatherhood, and a move to rural Maine influenced your outlook on life, and how have they inspired your newest work?
My wife, Louise Sheldon, is also an artist. We really support each other’s studio practice to try and live a creative life while parenting. Rolling with all the changes, both deliberate and by chance, that come along with that. Parenting provides a real perspectival shift, where you start to see the world through a child’s eyes and rethink all your own experiences and question everything.
We have our new studios in a renovated barn in woods attached to our house. I used to explore the woods more through surveillance style photography with hunting cameras while living in the city. I’m now in that actual space and exploring the hidden things that happen in the corner of your eye or completely in your imagination. All these acrid colors that seem out of place in nature is a starting point for the new work.
gouache on paper
58 × 80 inches (147.32 × 203.20 cm)
60 3/4 × 84 1/2 inches (154.31 × 214.63 cm) (framed)
What piece or pieces are you most excited about in your new show, Wigwag, at Klaus Gallery in Tribeca, New York?
I’m pretty excited about the large diptych called “Nuts”. It was the last work I finished in the studio for the show. It depicts a white space with multi colored acorns raining down in a sort of hallucinatory way.
The acorns developed from painting owl eyes, which came from repeatedly painting the letter forms “N-O” in my no way paintings for years. It’s interesting to look at how these things appear seemingly out of nowhere, but then start to make sense in one way or another.
Last but not least, any tips for artist parents who work from home?
I think it’s different for everyone. My studio practice has become a lot looser and more open. The days don’t always go as planned, but don’t be too hard on yourself. I get a lot out of creative play and all the books and music that my son is into. The work all gets done one way or another.
Double No Way, 2022
gouache on paper
40 × 60 inches (101.60 × 152.40 cm)
42 1/2 × 61 1/2 inches (107.95 × 156.21 cm) (framed)
January 6 - February 11, 2023
Opening Reception : January 6, 2023 6-8 pm
Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery
87 Franklin Street, Ground Floor, New York, NY 10013
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11AM-6PM