Artists Glen Hansen and Adam Straus have been painting happiness and laughter onto the North Fork art scene this year at the big red barn in Southold, where Hansen had been working until he moved into his late mother’s home in South Jamesport. Last weekend’s opening at the Glen Hansen Studio and Gallery at 1560 Youngs Avenue, featuring East End responses to the legendary television painter Bob Ross, is proof that art is only as serious as one makes it.
The Saturday, October 5, reception was filled with smiles from folks representing every corner of the twin forks’ artistic universe, cookies featuring the infamous brown afro of “The Joy of Painting’s” Ross, a mountain scene depicting Ross’s shouldered squirrel, a smiling sunflower, and an oversized Bob Ross bobblehead.
Hansen and Straus’s alter egos were also in evidence as works by Hans Gelb, Lucy Dewitt, and Anony Mous joined that of 14 others.
All this only two days after the pair were named “Excellence in the Arts” honorees at the East End Arts Gala for their work putting together the Riverhead nonprofit’s summer show, “Detour,” featuring some of the biggest names found on the East End. The Independent caught up with Hansen to find out more about him and the development of his unique studio and gallery space in Southold.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Wantagh in Nassau County, but I’ve been coming out to my mom’s house in South Jamesport since I was born. I’d lived in the city for 25 years and then I moved out to Nassau Point.
How did you meet Adam Straus?
Adam and I both lived in the city. I knew his art work and he knew mine — we used to go to each other’s openings — but we didn’t meet until Paton Miller did the show, “East End Collected 2,” in Southampton. We became friends after that. He’s a great artist and a super nice guy.
Your first show together was called ‘The Cheeseball Challenge.’ How did that happen?
I went to BJ’s and saw this big vat of Utz cheeseballs. I said, “Sh**, I’ve gotta buy this for Adam,” because I knew he would put it in one of his paintings since he’s an environmental artist. There is so much plastic on this thing that if you dug a hole and stuck it in there for 500 years, it would still be fresh when you pulled it out. I took it, put it on a piece of AstroTurf on top of my Prius, photographed it, and sent it to Adam.
Within a day, he had a Lucy DeWitt painting of it, I did a Hans Gleb painting of it, and we presented it to the Brewery Boys. Within seven days, we had 15 people who were like, “Let’s do a show.” My space was still my painting space at the time, but I cleaned it up to do the show there because it’s such a big space.
What are the Brewery Boys?
It’s a gathering at the Greenport Harbor Brewery in Peconic on Wednesdays between 5 and 7 PM. If you show up at the brewery at that time, you’re a brewery boy. It’s based on the black-and-white TV series, “The Bowery Boys.” Stephen Capozzoli — Frankie Neptune — came up with the name.
How did that get started?
I started it with Jack the Plumber, who has the space beneath me. He said, “Glen, there’s a lot of artists out here. You need to meet some of them.” We have some of the most legendary artists in the world living out here like Richard Serra, Lisa Yuskavage, John Currin, and Rachel Feinstein.
What was the response to the Cheeseball Challenge?
It was a big hit. [East End Arts President] John McClane bought my painting, his wife bought Adam’s painting, we sold over $8000 worth of work, and Charlie [Riley of the Nassau County Museum of Art] wrote a great review. We followed it up with the “Pseudonyms” show. That led into “Detour,” and now it’s “All About Bob.” This all happened in the past year.
What was the impetus for ‘All About Bob?’
I was at an art store up-island and I bought a bobblehead Bob Ross for Adam. He LOVES it. It’s like his pet G.I. Joe, and while we’re sitting in the studio barn, Adam’s wife, Nicole, says, “What are you guys going to do next after the cheeseball show, because it was such a success?” and we both go, in unison, “Let’s do ‘All About Bob!’”
It has all been very organic and while we came up with the concept four months ago, it took time to pick the artists, get the artists on board, and figure out the right pieces to fit the space. It’ll be open Saturday and Sundays through December 8 and next month we’ll hold a special Saturday showing from noon to 2 PM with drinks, food, and a panel discussion with myself, Adam, and a few other artists moderated by Franklin Hill Perrell.
What’s next at the Glen Hansen Studio and Gallery after ‘All About Bob’?
I think the next show will be a little more serious now that we’re organized.
If money were no object and you could own any piece of artwork, what would it be?
The Sistine Chapel? I mean, how deep of a fantasy world are we talking about here?