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  • Writer's pictureHeather Williams

Exploring the Musical Influence of Harmony & Jazz in the Art of Marcus Glenn

Marcus Glenn was born January 29, 1968, in Detroit Michigan. He discovered his calling at age 5, when his kindergarten teacher asked him to decorate a board in the classroom. His father, an autoworker, would unwind by listening to jazz after work. The music soared through the house as Marcus honed his artistic skill.

Music and art would be forever entwined in his life. The memory of this music and the artistic influences of Pablo Picasso, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Benny Andrews, Ernie Barnes, and Jackson Pollack reverberate in the canon of his work today. It is a mélange an homage to those that came before and to jazz.

In Rhythm of Mars, Glenn illustrates the back view of a man in a blue and white-striped shirt framed by an orange-red sky, capped by one of Mars’ two moons. He is seated on a red stool in front of a bright green piano that appears to float, sway, and contort along with piano keys that undulate like waves. They fall to the rocky-red ground of Mars as he plays.

Clad in blue jeans, the pianist sits in an impossible position. Topsy, turvy, his right leg stretches out unnaturally from the stool revealing a white sock. Finished with a black shoe, his toe points to somewhere out of view. Paint splatters of yellow, purple, blue, and black run freely across the canvas as if in motion.

Glenn claps back to the mannerist style of Picasso and the figurative styles of Lawrence and Andrews. This is most noticeable in the elongated articulation of the pianist’s leg. Glenn’s use of bright, saturated colors, and the energy he imparts to his work nod to Ernie Barnes. The splashes of yellow, purple, blue, and black paint are subtle nods to the work of Jackson Pollock.

In his, A Day with the Masters Series, Glenn is more direct. He includes paintings by Picasso and Tarkay in his own work within the series. A true Master himself, Glenn adds to the artistic discourse by enveloping his work with his own experience and perspective.

The jazz that formed the soundtrack of his life as a boy permeates his work. Instruments, such as a keyboard, horn, and bass are featured prominently in many of his pieces.

In Rhythm of Mars, the piano and keys are center stage. Their pride of place indicates music is the catalyst. Music causes everything to sway and contort. Music demands freedom and elicits the pianist’s unfettered motion.

Rhythm, improvised, extemporaneous, and free--that’s jazz. Jazz has transported the pianist to Mars. Jazz transcends all boundaries and unites everyone and everything in its rhythm. The music contains within it this universal power. And whether a fan or not, jazz can instantly transport listeners to another time like a musical time capsule.

In homage to those that have come before, Marcus Glenn unites the great artists that have influenced him with jazz on his canvases. He creates visual, musical time capsules. Unfettered and free, the jazz in the art of Marcus Glenn creates its own harmony.

Rhythm of Mars (2005) by Marcus Glenn (from:

Rhythm of Mars (2005) by Marcus Glenn
Rhythm of Mars by Marcus Glenn

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