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'Visual Mantras' makes the ordinary extraordinary

By Stacy Trevenon
Half Moon Bay Review
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Though his upcoming exhibit is titled "Visual Mantras," artist Werner Glinka, who lives on Kings Mountain near the elementary school, shies away from the concept of "meaning."

A regular exhibitor at the annual Kings Mountain Art Fair, Glinka says he doesn't want to assign "meaning" to someone else. Instead, his work, in which branches, twigs, sand or leaves strike an aesthetically pleasing balance with man-made materials like acrylic paint or bits of rusted metal, are open to interpretation.

"People use (my art) as vessels to explore something private to them, available and open (only) to them," he said.

The exhibit, with more than 20 pieces, will be shown at Enso, at 131 Kelly Ave. in Half Moon Bay from March 8 through 31. An artist's reception will be given from 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 8.

His works are for sale from $300 to $4,000.

Glinka's work focuses on ordinary objects and materials that express unexpected beauty in abstract collages and assemblages. The works, which range from roughly one to three feet square, juxtapose formal order with geometric design and straight lines, against the randomness of nature. This juxtaposition reveals layers of both structure and meaning.

His process is simple: He starts with found natural objects like leaves or thin branches or twigs. These he arranges on panels with sand, paint and other materials, presenting a melange of textures and color.

He doesn't plan the result. "I'd be lying if I said there was a grand plan," he said. "Very often, I'm surprised at the outcome.

"It's like life - you don't know what will result. The end result is different than what you intended."

The materials that go into his work are assembled with order but show the randomness of nature.

His own life is a similar mosaic. He was raised in the industrial city of Gelsenkirchen, Germany, where he was trained as an electrical engineer. He came to the United States in 1981, bringing his passion for soccer and his skills, which he applied to working in computer manufacturing.

His roots are now here. "My whole life is here," he said. "I'm American for all practical purposes.

"Except when Germany plays soccer against the U.S."