GUEST ESSAY BY FELIX ETIENNE-EDOUARD PFIELE
In 2010 I came to know Scott Colglazier when I chanced upon Easter Sunday services at First Congregational Church in Los Angeles. Colglazier was senior pastor and although it was the soaring neo-Gothic architecture and vastly magnificent pipe organ (one of the largest in the
world) that first attracted my attention, his manner and message resonated with me, more and more deeply. In short, it was a spiritual experience of my favorite kind, for spirituality is beauty and art, or the arts, are the buttresses of that experience, for me, at least.
Evidently Colglazier sees and experiences spirituality similarly, because at First Church he began curating thought-provoking exhibitions of art, parts of which might reference religion and others not, but they all had in common a deeply probing quality that was underscored by reverential awe and wonder, not unaware of the vicissitudes and despair in life, but quietly transcendent.
But the art wasn’t everything in the room—in some cases the fabulous Shatto Chapel at First Church—it was the dynamism of the artists as well, always an eclectic, erudite and kind array of persons. None pretended to be cool—they moved on other wave lengths entirely. Even if Los Angeles appeared in some of the artwork, one was removed leagues in spirit from its hipster
posturing in relief against strip malls and traffic / weather-obsessed conversations.
Those were Colglazier’s curated visions and now in southern Indiana, and with his first completed bodies of artwork, we see Colglazier’s own vision. It is a remarkable body of work on the first round, in what is hopefully a long journey for him, because we deserve to partake of it.
The works are entirely abstract and even if Colglazier never ventures into the figurative in the future, they make sense as a point of departure for him: it is as if they contain, in the abstract, his treasure of knowledge and understanding of human experience. The daubs, drips and pointillist marks upon the canvas “contain multitudes”, as Walt Whitman wrote, and as is quoted
on Colglazier’s website. Indeed, Colglazier contains those multitudes—layers of philosophy, theological and secular; layers of human complexity; layers of woe and delight; layers of darkness and light. Some paintings almost appear to be images of lava-like ceramic surfaces; others like constellations hinting at continuing space beyond.
Some may find them decorative—profuse 21 st century baroque explosions—but we may also see the words of Robert F. Kennedy: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
There is a tacit disdain in rarified circles of the art world for the generously open work of art—art that is whatever we want to make of it, but we’ll do that anyway. Though once a clergyman, Colglazier is anything but didactic. Here, we stand before the work of a cosmic thinker who happens to have a generous spirit—he’s a nice guy from Indiana, after all—and his canvases
are a pondering invitation open to everyone. I happen to look in his work for the dimension “beyond”, the suggestion of what the constellation might next reveal, the window toward another understanding or another vista. I suspect my sense of that is different from the reader’s, but it is there and I look forward to the continuing journey.