Pam Glover (1924-2010) has become a legend. Considered one of the foremost plein air painters in California, she was one of the founders of the painting group The Outsiders. Her richly hued landscapes, with their bold brushstrokes and pops of rectangular color, are instantly recognizable.
Her works have appeared in hundreds of private and public collections from the Kaiser and IRS buildings in Oakland, California; “Plein Air Artist California”
The Bank of America tower in San Francisco; and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. They have been shown in galleries from San Francisco to Carmel. Pam’s work has also garnered many prestigious awards, among them ones from the California State Fair in Sacrament, the Alameda County Fair, the Marin Art Association in Ross and the Lodi Fair.
This retrospective draws upon her earliest artworks and follows the arc of her creativity to the end of her life. Through these fine works in many media we are able to watch Pam’s style and characteristic use of color evolve. “Plein Air Painter Northern California”.
Pam Glover was born Pamela Mavis Scott, on April 8, 1924 in Wuhan Hankou, China, by English parents. When she was 15 years old she began formal art lessons with Russian painter and teacher, Olga Popoff Mueller, a former student of Rodin’s, in Shanghai. Some of these early works still exist and run the gamut from still life paintigs to simple line drawings of small Chinese canal boats.
When World War II broke out Pam’s parents evacuated with her to Australia where she took up studying at the Polytechnic of Art in Sydney. During this period, Pam also worked as a fashion artist at the Hamilton Art Studio in Sydney. She drew and painted apparel and accessory illustrations for newspapers showcasing the latest fashions at department stores such as Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her sketches and ads show elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen, and pleasingly plump romper-clad toddlers. Already, the curve of a calf, or the lines of a skirt hint at the trees she would later paint. Perhaps her ability to distill movement was no accident as fellow artist, Catherine Fasciato, remembers Pam saying, “Paint tress as if they were ballerinas…dancing.” Plein Air Artist Northern California.
She also met her future husband, George Glover, in Sydney. When the war ended, Pam moved to England and took a job teaching art and crafts at Kinglsey High School in Warwickshire. George soon followed and they were married in England in 1949. In 1951 the couple moved to the United States and settled in the Bay Area. Pam enrolled in the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland in 1954, where she studied with George Post, Jade Fon and others.
At the time Pam studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts however, abstract painting dominated the curriculum. Several of Pam’s works are representative of her shift in focus to mixed media, sand paintings and abstract art. Her finishes had a signature crackled, aged technique and she guarded the secret of her mixing method, used to achieve the sands and the ochre red soils, closely.
She was a friend of both Lundy and Louis Siegriest, the latter a member of the Society of Six, who, despite the tonalists and picturesque paintings popular in the early 1920s, took colorism, fauvism,and plein air painting as its first commandment. Pam was a student of Lundy’s when he taught at the Walnut Creek Civic Arts Education. In the 1970s, after Louis suffered a stroke and his doctor recommended that he return to painting to aid his recovery, she accompanied Louis and Lundy on one of their plein air painting expeditions. Pam later reminisced that the thought came to her, “I know how to draw. Why am I doing all these abstractions.”
Her artwork’s shift to oil on canvas show these first works as startlingly fresh and bold with their vivid strokes of color. Viewing these early works, we are reminded that when Pam started painting with Louis and Lundy Siegriest, far from being an untutored talent, she was already an accomplished artist.
In fact, Pam’s painting career took a trajectory that encompasses and distills several art movements. Early on, it is almost as if she was trying on styles to see which one fit best. Her early mixed media works clearly favor the forms of the Abstract Expressionists. Think Hans Hofmann, Franz Cline and Jackson Pollock. She then moves, as the art movement did, towards Figurative art with blocks of color. Her early plein air paintings are more reminiscent of Richard Diebenkorn with their references to lanscape imagery and nature. Like the abstract artists, she directed the viewer’s eye through shapes and color. Notice the red in her paintings: a tile red roof, manzanita-red tree trunks, ochre red grape stakes. It directs your eye to see the big picture but also notice the small details.
Her influences also included the Fauvists, a movement in French painting that is credited with revolutionizing the concept of color in modern art. The Fauvists earned their name (“les fauves”-wild beasts) by shocking exhibit visitors with their bold use of color in their first public show in 1905. And though the influence of the French Impressionists can be seen in Pam’s work, she rejected the neo impressionist’s use of pure color applied to the canvas in small strokes. Her style, more Society of Six, is full of violent color and bold brushstrokes and distortions. “Plein Air Painter Northern California”
By contrast, Pam’s Swiss paintings, done while visiting her daughter, Anne Marie, who lived in the picturesque Einsiedeln region in Switzerland from 1977 to 2002, show the unique effect the California climate had on her choice of not only subject matter but style and hue. On these two-to-three week visits, Anne Marie would take a break from working, and mother and daughter would go out plein air painting every day. Here, as a reflection of the more softly lit landscape around her, California-bright colors were replaced by more muted, atmospheric tones. Red is till used to draw the eye, but it is a softened almost pink-red. “Plein Air Painter California”
A second wave of plein air painting took hold when Pam joined forces with Ray Jackson, William Rushton, Judy Molyneux, Warren Dreher, Jerrold Turner, and Basch-Davis to form the Outsiders in 1997. A few years later, Randall Sexton became a member of the group. Unlike many of their fellow contemporary artists, the Outsiders eschewed paintings pretty pictures, instead painting what is in front of them be it dilapidated piers or neatly, laid-out vineyard. The group also nursed a shared ambition of painting a canvas in one sitting in the out of doors.
Pam’s personality, equal parts shy, stiff-upper lip and eccentric, a summation of her English and Chinese background, also inspired the group. “She was always doing the unexpected. She was clinically eccentric,” says Basch-Davis. “She started her paintings on a blue background so she wouldn’t have to paint the sky,” a trick Basch-Davis remembers Pam saying she learned from Lundy Siegriest.
Like the Society of Six, the Outsiders often painted together for companionship and critiquing, while enjoying the fresh and open sky, and capturing it in landscapes and street scenes around the Bay Area. They arranged fund raisers to help preserve those wide-open spaces and sweeping vistas of the SanFrancisco Bay area that they so dearly loved to portray through paint and brush strokes. They also promoted plein air painting through their group shows. We had so much fun with her,”says fellow Outsider, Jerrold Turner.
Colleen Hoffman, Pam’s former dealer at Maxwell galleries in San Francisco, speaks of Pam’s vision and artistic license. “She had no problem making a tree purple or a house lavender, and result is so joyous.” “Plein Air Artist California”
Pam Glover is arguably one of the most familiar of the artists included in the Outsiders. Her brightly-colored works captured not only the Bay Area’s diverse landscape but sparked the imaginations of both the buyers of her art and her many students, taught during her 25 year tenure as an instructor at the Orinda Community Center.
She even inspired an outdoor landscape-painting group, made up of former students, who have dubbed themselves the “Glover Group” and continue her plein air painting tradition today. No doubt they can still hear her signature parting quip to her fellow artist, “Let’s go painting, soon.” “Plein Air Painter Northern California”
Valerie Fahey is a free-lance writer living in the Bay Area
Used by permission Valerie Fahey