by Debbie Tuma
Jonathan Nash Glynn has become known throughout the Hamptons for his charity,
“Wings Over Haiti,” ever since he flew his private plane there in 2010 to help with the devastation from the earthquake. As a pilot and champion of human rights, he raised money and brought together a team of builders to construct two schools for children in the poorest areas. Today, over 500 children have classes to attend, free lunches, uniforms and books, all made possible from his foundation. About 400 people attended his most recent benefit party, held at East Hampton Airport in June of 2021.
But many people may not know that Glynn, of Sag Harbor, is also an accomplished, long-time artist, who has exhibited his paintings at galleries throughout the Hamptons and several museums. He received a B.F.A. from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University and an M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Throughout his art career, he has gone through different phases and styles in his painting and sculpture. He started with realism, and parlayed into more abstract and geometric forms, before entering his present phase, of abstract expressionism.
Glynn is standing in his Sag Harbor studio, throwing, dripping and splashing brightly colored paints on a 6 X 9 foot canvas, stretched out across a long table. All around him are jars of paint, and other huge canvases stacked against the walls. He unabashedly admits that his newest style is influenced by Jackson Pollack, whose house and studio in Springs has become a world famous museum.
“It was inspiring to me that Pollack started using vibrant color in his abstract paintings,” said Glynn. “They have a joie de vivre and are optimistic. But I’m trying to get a greater depth of field in my paintings….as opposed to Pollack where he was concerned about the surface.”
Glynn explained that he uses many layers of paint, not just in one sitting but several, to build on top of each other. “It could take months to finish this layering process,” he said. “It’s meant to bring you in and experience it over time, to see more things in it.”
He also tries intentionally to have no figurative content in his work. “People may see things in it and that’s fine,” he said. “If I see something in it I change it, because I’m solely interested in an abstract experience. It’ s more about a feeling and energy, so I’m not weighed down by content.”
A good example of this is his recent painting, “Magnetic Series #3,” that is on exhibit now through January 30 at Colm Rowan Fine Art in East Hampton. In this “Winter Gallery Show,” Glynn has two large panels put together in a diptic format, making this 60 X 90-inch acrylic on canvas painting stand out with its bold splashes of orange, green, blue, black and silver. It takes up one back wall of the gallery.
Colm Rowan, owner of Colm Rowan Fine Art, said he selected this “monumental abstract painting” because it “raises the bar to the level of poetry.”
Glynn said he was trained as an artist to understand the formal aspects of a painting’s composition. “But I intentionally try to break those barriers. My new paintings are rebellious paintings—if they look too much like art I change them. I’m looking for a different language, and each painting should be pushed a little farther every time.”
Glynn explained that his new abstract paintings have all been created since Covid. “Since the lock down, I’ve been painting like crazy, confined to my studio within my house,” he said. “Most recently I’ve been experimenting with silver and gold leaf as well, adding other layers of paint. “It takes courage to put it down like you mean it,” he laughed, as he threw down some more layers.”
“Hundreds of dollars have gone into this paint,” he said. “Like Pollack, I want to break barriers, and I can’t wait to see how far I can go. I guess you could say I’m pushing Pollack to the limit.”
The “Winter Gallery Show” at Colm Rowan Fine Art, 55 Main Street in East Hampton, features 21 international, national and local artists. Besides Glynn, of Sag Harbor, there are five artists from East Hampton: Barry McCallion, Chris Kelly, Carl Scorza, Christine Matthai, and Ken Miller. Owner Colm Rowan decided to have a very diverse exhibit of completely different styles of art, from realism to abstract expressionism, to pop art, hard edge, and also sculpture. It all works magically together in this fascinating exhibit, running now through January 30. For information call 610-256-3256 or visit www.colmrowan.com