PAINTING THE TOWN
Valencia County has its own budding Walt Disney in Jerry Glaser, a Los Lunas artist who grew up in Los Chavez.
Glaser is an illustrator with a natural flair for cartoon and comic book characters. He uses this talent to paint holiday and other festive scenes on commercial building windows. You may have seen some of his work without realizing it, because he has decorated windows for several local businesses and schools over the years.
Everywhere Glaser has been employed, he has painted the company’s windows for the holidays, and everywhere he goes, he carries his satchel full of colored pencils and sketch pads.
One year, Albuquerque Public Schools hired him to paint the large windows at the main office on Uptown Boulevard. It was a 10-window commission, each window about 15-feet by 15-feet that he had to use a ladder to reach.
“That was huge — that was an all-day job,” Glaser said. “I think it was for Back to School after spring break. They had me draw apple trees and big bushels of apples, spring flowers, grass.”
As a youngster, Glaser never thought of himself as an artist, but given a piece of paper and a pencil, he always loved to doodle and sketch. Then, while he attended Belen High School, he took an art class taught by Candace Sapier.
“That’s when I really started taking it seriously,” said Glaser.
Sapier taught him several techniques that he continues to use to this day. For example, in order to paint large pictures in correct proportions, Glaser draws a small picture and uses grid to transpose an enlarged duplicate.
“She taught us how to use our right brain,” he said. “She trained us to be Xerox machines basically, and there are all these different techniques she taught us to trigger or switch on your right brain … your left brain is the side that does stick figures and little cartoonish type characters. When you use your right brain, it’s more drawing what you see.”
Glaser works for the state at the Children Youth and Families Department in Los Lunas, and he’s been painting the office windows for each holiday.
Previously, when he worked for the Sandhill Child Development Center in Tomé, not only did he paint the windows for the holidays, he also created coloring books for the children.
“Every holiday I’d get together with a couple of kids and we would put together an Easter coloring book or whatever holiday it was,” he said.
For birthdays, he would make his own cards rather than purchase commercial cards.
“I wish I had taken pictures of some of them,” he said.
Building a portfolio of his work is something he has only recently begun.
Glaser also taught art classes at Sandhill, and believes art has a great therapeutic value.
“For me, it’s like a mediation,” Glaser said. “When I get in my right brain, it’s almost like you’re in this trance where no one can bug you. That’s what I want the kids to learn — to use it like an intervention.
“If I can at least get them to figure out that they don’t need to use violence, or liquor, or drugs to de-stress — to recognize that art can actually do that.”
Over the years in his career, he has read about neuroscience research that shows art therapy can actually help re-build healthy brain cell connections and build healthier neuro-network patterns.
“Drawing is actually an intervention that can make your brain healthier,” he said. “especially children, like the kids I work with who have something called, Reactive Attachment Disorder.
“It starts at birth from some type of trauma during the birth. A lot of people think they are just bratty little kids, but it’s something wrong with their brain.”
Glaser plans to continue working for the state and go to school to become a case worker and art therapist.
His window-painting business can help him pay for tuition.
During the winter months, he can only work on the weekends because it’s dark by the time he gets out of work. Next year, he plans to take some vacation time before Christmas so he can take on more holiday painting jobs.
“This year, I was so busy, I had to turn down some of the jobs,” he said.
Sometimes his daughter, Contessa, accompanies him on a job. She wants to learn the craft.
Glaser has two children, Allen, 14, and Contessa, 9, with his wife, Melanie.
“I’m trying to teach Contessa how to paint stars,” Glaser said. “She wants to go with me on my jobs … stars she can do pretty good.
“Taking my kids with me and showing them, passing by and showing my family and friends â€• that I think motivates me,” he said.
Batman, Poison Ivy, Superman, He-Man — superheroes are one of his favorite subjects. He would love to paint a mural “mash-up” of all his favorite childhood cartoon characters, such as Charlie Brown, Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, mixed with superheroes, he said.
Glaser has painted windows at Gil Sanchez Elementary School, Phil’s Glass in Tomé, Allsups, the city of Belen water building, Burritos Alinstante and regularly paints at CYFD, including this Valentine’s Day.
Creating a coloring book with local themes and history is a project he is interested in pursuing, and hopes to publish with Rio Grande Publishing Press.
To hire Jerry Glaser to paint windows or signs, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 363-0624.
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