Interview by Donald Kolberg
DK: You have said it is your intention in your artwork to create a figurative, sensual and visual art form. How has the glass transfer method you use helped you create this?
Wren: I am not sure if I can answer this question. I do not work exclusively in acrylic glass transfer. I also work in oil and am a printmaker too. Like printmaking Glass Transfer is working backwards. You start with the foreground and add the background last. It is a very free way to express my artwork and I try and think the same with my drawings and oil paintings.
DK: Tell us why Jazz inspires so much of your work?
Wren: I have always been interested in jazz. I think jazz has been America’s greatest contribution to international culture. Perhaps it is the improvisational quality of jazz that I find so attractive.
DK: I know that you grew up in the 60’s and 70’s with conceptual art, but what visual artists do you feel influence you now?
Wren: I don’t think there is any one visual artist that has influenced me. When I see good work that definitely inspires me but that does not necessarily mean influence me. The work does not have to be hanging in a museum or even by someone famous.
DK: Your artwork employs a multipoint perspective and perspectives from different moments to give visual expression to the movement and connectedness of music. Tell us how you work this from your sketches.
Wren: I evolved to my current style of portraying the kinetic quality very slowly. Actually it all derived from a large pencil sketch I did many years ago that was much simpler than what I do today. My sketch books I use as a reference to how the musicians are interacting, how they hold their instruments. They are always moving and changing the scene.
DK: When did you take the step into being a professional artist?
Wren: I went to School of Visual Arts for one year in 1970 and practically gave up art all together. I went there to learn craft and in the 70’s they were not into teaching craft but rather teaching art speak. I married early and moved to St. Croix where I drew but also designed baby blankets and worked as a window decorator (the best lesson in composition I have ever had). When I came back to New York I became somehow unsatisfied, so I started to draw again and took a Lithography course at State University at Albany. I was about 30-35 and knew this was what I had to do, it felt good.
DK: What do you do for fun (besides painting)?
Wren: I love to hike and garden. Cooking and reading too. I am also very interested in film. I do not have a TV, it’s been over 47 years.
DK: Do you agree that modern art has taken a turn toward the figurative or do you see it heading in a different direction?
Wren: I wish I knew. If modern art would just take a turn toward good craftsmanship and good drawing I would be very happy about that. Actually I think modern art has lost its way and isn’t moving in any direction at all. It now belongs to the art critics and not the people.
DK: How have you handled the business side of being an artist?
Wren: I only know one or two artists who has mastered the business side of art. I have not handled the business side very well. You have to take time away from making artwork to do the business part.
DK: What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Wren: I would tell artists that Grad school is not necessary unless they want to teach. When you are in grad school you are paying people lots of money to be interested in your art. And when you get your degree and are no longer paying them they generally are no longer interested in your work. Making artwork is something you do alone in your studio. It can be very lonely. I would tell young artists that it is important to master your craft, because then you are free to do anything you want. I would also recommend studying art history, drawing from the model. I wouldn’t necessarily worry too much about finding your own voice in the beginning. That will come with time. The self is unavoidable.
DK: You seem to have found your voice or style in art. How does an artist starting out find theirs?
Wren: As I said you must have confidence that this will eventually come. As I said earlier your “self” is unavoidable, you can only be yourself. Make artwork to satisfy yourself and your style will eventually emerge.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. You can view Wren’s incredible work at WrenPanzella.com. Definitely worth the look!