I have known Glenn Gerber for at least 4 years and have painted with him weekly for the past 3 and 1/2 years. As the interview indicates, Gerber has always wanted a career in art. He received a BFA from Layton School of Art and an MA and Teaching Certification from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Gerber taught in the Racine, Wisconsin school system for 32 years and, at the same time, exhibited his work in regional and national shows, winning a number of awards. Gerber and his wife Marty, living in an art-filled house, reside in Door County.
Randy Rasmussen (RR): Did you have someone in your family that particularly encouraged you in your early art endeavors?
Glenn Gerber (GG): Yes, my parents’ approach to family planning was to say, “Oh no, not again.” I was sandwiched between a brother and twin sisters in the span of 3 and 1/2 years. Everyone encouraged me to quietly entertain myself. Drawing and reading fit nicely.
RR: What was the first medium you remember using and did you enjoy it?
GG: I always had the material do draw, but my first set of pastels was a true delight. I loved the colors.
RR: Was there one person prior to college who influenced you in your career choice?
GG: I was torn between the sciences and art. My high school art teacher was a much nicer person than my science teacher and art won.
RR: Glenn, you went to Layton School of Art after high school graduation. Did you consider a career in fine art?
GG: I enrolled in Layton to become a commercial artist, but soon decided that the fine arts were more to my liking.
RR: Marty, your wife is an accomplished artist. Did you ever compete against her in a show?
GG: We often entered the same shows, but worked in different mediums, so it was really a competition. No one ever got out of doing the dishes because they won a prize in a show.
RR: How did you and your wife decide to retire to Door County?
GG: We looked for an area that was beautiful to the eye, culturally active and self-renewing. Door County was our first choice and it hasn’t been a disappointment.
RR: Glenn, in your opinion, what are the reasons for the decline in interest in art shows and the increasing popularity of the plein air competitions?
GG: Overkill. Back in the ‘70s art fairs were a once a year event in an area. Attendance was high and sales were very good. That propagated more and more art fairs and less success for all of them. Plein air competitions have the same urgency of the old time art fairs. I hope they don’t suffer the same fate.
RR: Who are your two favorite working painters?
GG: That is a terribly confining question. I truly enjoy many artists. Nationally, I like Robert Genn who is a landscape artist and writes a great blog. Locally, I enjoy Shelby Keefe, a plein air artist with a delightful sense of color and composition.
RR: I know you and I have discussed this question many times. What do you think is the future of art?
GG: The art world is always in flux. Today there are so many directions for self-expression, you can just pick one that suits you and follow it. The younger generation may very well embrace digital or computer-generated pictures and ignore hand-crafted art works altogether.
RR: A final question. How has your work changed over the years?
GG: Over the past 50 years my work has zigzagged from realism to abstraction and back to representational art. I am essentially trying to capture and freeze that perfect moment or mood on the canvas. I am still trying to quietly entertain myself.