At the ripe young age of 65, Gary Glasheen found himself tired of watering the plants in his Japanese garden in San Diego, so he put down the hose, picked up a paintbrush, and began a celebrated career as an artist. After all, according to Glasheen, his brother had drawn a picture that he liked; and his other brother also did a picture that was “pretty good,” so Glasheen thought that maybe he also could paint. “I went to the Senior Citizens Adult Education Center in San Diego and that’s where I started painting; I’m still in touch with my teacher there.”
In 2001, Glasheen and his wife of 53 years, Bobbie, moved to Idyllwild full-time after decades of visits. “We’ve been coming to Idyllwild for over 50 years and we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary here,” Glasheen smiled. “Then we celebrated our 50th a couple of years ago so I figure we’ve been in and out of Idyllwild for over 50 years.” The couple met while both lived in San Diego and have three sons and a couple of grandchildren.
“People would ask why we left San Diego because it’s so beautiful, but Idyllwild is also pretty. We’re both from the eastern part of the country; I’m from New York and Bobbie is from Chicago. The seasons, that’s what we missed and we’re just very, very happy to be living here,” said Glasheen.
While taking a yoga class at an Idyllwild studio that doubled as a gallery, Glasheen was drawn to a spot in the room where several pictures hung. “I thought, ‘Gee, this is good, I like this, I like his colors.’ So like most people, they go to an area and they keep coming back to it, so in yoga everyone seems to go to the same spot where they feel comfortable. I looked at this guy’s paintings time after time and I thought, ‘This guy is good. I really liked it.”
As luck would have it, Glasheen discovered that the artist, Jim Robinson, was actually coming to Idyllwild to do a demonstration, which he attended. “I asked him if he made house calls [laughs]. He said he would be willing to come up and do some lessons for a group,” Glasheen said. Eventually, private lessons followed and Glasheen credits Robinson to this day for being the most influential person in his art career. “He was just wonderful and I learned a lot from him. I think maybe my colors reflect his work, his influence. That’s how it all started.”
At 80 years young, Glasheen is always hungry for more knowledge about his craft, having attended classes taught by Audrey Winkler, who specialized in abstracts and acrylics, and Betty Pilley, whose specialty is watercolors. Both are involved with the Hemet Valley Art Association. “I can see where if you don’t continue learning you can just slip away from it. Go to different people. That’s what I do,” offered Glasheen. “I’m starting back next week with my abstract teacher.”
Lea Deesing, predecessor to Gary Kuscher as president of the Art Alliance of Idyllwild, introduced Glasheen to AAI. “A group from Hemet came here and painted on our porch and [Deesing] came. From that occasion I joined AAI,” he said. “I think the last couple of years I have participated in everything [AAI has] had and entered my pictures.”
Glasheen’s studio, adjacent to the main house, is a combination work space and family art gallery. A paint-by-number of a wolf hangs alongside Glasheen’s original artwork from watercolors of birch trees, exotic fish and pumpkins, to abstracts with unique color combinations and textures. Pieces from niece Amy Brackenbury, a successful wildlife artist, also adorn the studio. The combination gives one a glimpse into the man and the variety of things that inspire him. Glasheen explains, “I do everything. I don’t do just houses or trees, I do everything. When I see something, I’m free to do it. I wanted to get away from doing one thing. Now I can mix the media.”
Winner of the AAI People’s Choice Award given on Dec. 22, 2013, in conjunction with the Winter Solstice Concert hosted by the Idyllwild Master Chorale, Glasheen’s “Walking Lake Fulmor” painting was inspired from a photograph. “My grandson took that picture of me walking at Lake Fulmor on a snowy day. When I developed the picture I decided, ‘Gee, I think I’ll paint that.’ I thought the picture was just good and people really, really like that,” said Glasheen.
Glasheen’s painting of mailboxes hanging in the Idyllwild Post Office has garnered him a lot of recognition. “I decided to give that picture to the postmaster. If I didn’t do anything else, that is my claim to fame,” he said, smiling. Currently, Glasheen’s work is on display at the Forest Furniture Gallery located in the Fort. He will also participate in the AAI-sponsored “Under $100” Art Show at Town Hall on Saturday, Feb. 8.
“This is one of the reasons we came here,” said Glasheen looking out his front window at the cloudy blue sky and statuesque pines. “It’s also the people. I think people come on a weekend and then they hurry up and move here and have no idea what it’s like to live in Idyllwild; there’s no mail, no garbage pick-up, and I think that helps keep you healthy; that you have to do something instead of having everything done for you. And as I say, it’s just the people.”
Category: On The Town