Asheville native Cyrus Glance, who works in pen-and-ink, pastels, and gouache, decided early on that he didn’t want to be an artist. “When I was in daycare the teacher saw me drawing and asked me if I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I remember saying, ‘No, they don’t make enough money.’” After earning a graphic-design degree at Western Carolina University in 1989, Glance did work for a while as an illustrator. But for the past 14 years, his “day job” has been a night job — working at a long-term-care facility as a CNA/Medication Aide on the night shift.
In between, Glance took a nearly decade-long hiatus from artwork, but has since made up for lost time. “I walk around with a small sketchbook and draw whatever catches my attention. People always tell me, ‘You’re so prolific!’ But I say if you like to draw, then why not draw?” He also rarely erases any marks he makes while creating a piece, because “They’re all part of its life.”
Tryon-based artist Margaret Curtis, a nationally renowned painter and the recipient of a prestigious Joan Mitchell Fellowship award, observes that “Cyrus is the most prolific art generator I know of — every single surface in his house is covered in drawings piled everywhere and stacked 10-deep in frames against the wall. It’s almost like he can’t contain himself — this bursting dam of energy coming out of him at all times.” She calls Glance “a highly skilled and underappreciated Expressionist who has such an incredible hand,” praising his pen-and-ink work by saying, “Some of it has the lyricism of a Rembrandt drawing.”
Curtis has been busy curating an exhibit of Glance’s work titled It Figures. The show will include dozens of Glance’s ink and gouache pieces, as well as some of his sketchbooks. “We want the show to reflect the obsessiveness of his practice; he’s always documenting these uncensored everyday moments and his drawings have a staggering number of marks, thousands of them. It is strong, intense work and so beautiful. What I love is how raw and immediate and powerful the emotional content is — simultaneously nightmarish and tender.
“Most people aren’t brave enough to address the issues Cyrus does, but he channels the psychological force of vulnerability and pathos and terror and does it beautifully,” says Curtis.
“Some of my drawings are kind of dark,” Glance acknowledges, “but I believe everything has an intrinsic aesthetic value, and I’ve never seen a reason why you should limit yourself in what you draw or how you draw.”
Three new art exhibits, including Cyrus Glance’s It Figures, will launch Saturday, March 18, with a 5pm opening reception at Upstairs Artspace, 49 South Trade St., Tryon, upstairsartspace.org. The other shows are The Pull of Place by Lori Heckelman (Western abstract landscapes) and Drawing and Paintings by Lynne Tanner and Caroline Young. The exhibits run through April 28. (See @cyrusglance on Instagram, email: firstname.lastname@example.org)