Okay, Glenn. Here you go. From my heart to yours. Be well. Looking forward to hearing your story…
GB: Thanks, Byron. Answering your questions is part of my healing process, for it involves the heart and mind. Thank you for this opportunity.
Glenn, I’ve seen your work for a few years now. We’ve connected through the internet and I honestly forget how. I have respected your artwork for years.
GB: The feeling is mutual, Byron. I may not have been responding to your art and poetry that much but, quite often, I take time to read them and fuse your poetry with your accompanying visuals. There’s purity of expression, intention and purpose in both your poetry and visuals. I think, I think, I initiated our meeting when I got impressed with your poetry and visuals, then slowly started learning about your art and life.
Some of your work reminds me of a series I did and some works of friend and well other artists.
GB: Perhaps, we are cosmic brothers, having similar aesthetics, taste, interest and preoccupation.
It seems to have a biomorphic theme. Beauty of nature. There seems to be a reference to sacred geometry and the golden ratio which artist have been using since the beginning of art making. Are you aware of this in your work?
GB: Well, one’s exposure to things external, abstract or literal somehow influences a person when he starts to create, particularly in the visual arts. In my case, my background in the arts and sciences, advertising, photography, cinematography and architecture, perhaps, has a subconscious effect when I go through any creative process in art making.
If not, what do you see my reference to sacred geometry in your work to be?
GB: Somehow, because of education, I know a bit about this. But, it’s like the preference of one to experience emotion; and the other, defining emotion. If one defines emotion, it no longer is emotion. If one tries to define what is beautiful about a thing, then its beauty goes away. Take the ‘rule of thirds’, for example. Its application can be very technical, but its application does not stop one from applying the same in so many different ways. I always get amazed when my son David, takes on a tool, any tool, any job his own way; he just stretches, exhausts and satisfies the whole range of possibilities, rather effortlessly. I learn a lot from him, even the very short time that we have interacted with each other in music, art making and the digital process. In reality, our ‘interactions’ felt short, but we have been ‘interacting’ since he was a baby, even ‘til now, that he is turning 26 come Nov 14. And so, I guess, after exploring the possibilities and actually deciding to create with certainty after experimentation, and having come up with the product, that is the only time we can define or describe the technical aspects behind the product and its intangible effects on humans.
The more I learned about you the more impressed I have become. Nothing more than pure respect. Like someone who looks up to an elder or a mystic.
GB: Reading this from one I myself admire and respect, makes me really feel good, and feel good about myself too. It’s like the cycle from creation to appreciation has been completed. I think you know what I mean.
Your studio alone is a work of art. (Can you pick two or three photos for me to use here) When I view it I see your artwork in it. Your paintings come to life. How long did it take to make the plan and build the structure?
GB: The left menu from this active title –> Glenn’Studio offers a lot of images. I think, you can be the best judge to choose images you would like to feature for your purpose:
I initiated a very simple design, simpler than any artist or architect can depart from for my art studio. It was just a box house without interior walls, ceiling, or fence. The roof was the ceiling. The drawers and shelves were the walls. The posts were the cabinets and shelves too, all disguised as sculptural pieces but really have simple, structural function. I had that house surrounded with fruit plants, fruit trees, vines, etc., merely reacting from needs without much planning. Yes, it’s good I mentioned, ‘reacting from needs, because that was how simple I wanted things to be. And this was the reason why, like a grasshopper, I had always lived in farm lands that have eventually been urbanized, that made me move again to the next, less developed provincial areas where I could befriend farmers. It gets a bit more knotty because of a wife and a kid. Ex: I can live without electricity which I did for two years, until relationships with others require otherwise. Without electricity, one becomes more visually sensitive to his surroundings, much more to the stars.
You mention in your description of the studio that it can withstand storms. I see it being like a tree in its development. I wish I could see it in person. How did you test its strength?
GB: Sometimes ‘common sense’ or just ‘pure intuition’ is better than any technical approach to most things. From my end, I merely find art and my art studio as an extension of myself, my body (skeletal & muscular) and my thinking, of how I really am, consciously, more so, unconsciously. Many times, we know, we just know, right? However, after having initiated several ‘prototypes’ of how I wanted to develop my habitat, I employed a young structural engineer and an architect to interpret my design to a plan. I still wish to be able do this in a bigger scale. Most of the architecture expressed in a similar fashion, I find them too stiff, too technical, lacking spontaneity. I know a way to achieve this – – designing a simple, sculptural edifice.
When did you get into art?
GB: In grade school; church DVBS (Daily Vacation Bible School); visual requirements from church staff and from my own father who was a Methodist minister; in high school where I was asked to do the murals for plays; Halloween parties and other school activities. I was also doing calligraphy for high school and college diplomas.
You have been making art for decades, which I respect so much, when did you realize you could make a living as an artist?
GB: Being able to live on my art is purely incidental. I just go about doing and pursuing what I think my calling is. Everything else follows because of focus, passion and perseverance.
What was the process of becoming the artist that you are?
GB: It has been, and will always be an emptying process – – ‘my cup runneth over’, as the Bible says. Yes, it will always be like that with me, because the more I empty, the fuller I get. Also, when I self-empty, I can better absorb and understand most things around me.
Did you have support from your family and community?
GB: Like most Filipino families that have very close ties, each member of the family, in his/her own way, rather unselfishly, cares for the other, even those who have nothing to give. This I have known to be true since I was in my knee pants up to the present time. The community, likewise, behaves the same. We call it, “bayanihan”: & – – > Bautista Family Reunion:
What do you see the role of the artist in today’s society, the culture we live in now and the one to come?
GB: To unceasingly find and express the good in one’s self, to eventually share both his tangible and intangible realizations with those around him, especially to those whom he thinks need them.
In your surroundings you see sustainability being a priority of artists today? Should it be if not?
GB: I always refer to what Jesus once said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)
Easier said and read than done, I know. But I believe, practice and live this verse and I can’t help notice that my cup, indeed, always overflows. Overflows, not so much materially, but of what is more meaningful and needed than any material thing can offer. And this applies to the rest of my siblings (3 boys, 4 girls-1 deceased), my folks, and those close to my father’s church.
Artists are in the clouds. We are story tellers. We are designers and architects of a message.
GB: True and it is a great responsibility for us to shoulder in delivering a truthful message. And the only way to express a truth, or the Truth, is to stay connected to our Maker, the source of it all. So, I always tell myself, “His Will, not mine”. So God holds the steering wheel in my life, not me. I only follow Him.
Do you feel that artists have a connection with the divine?
GB: Having touched on this already, I can only add that, as a Christian, one can only, truly be connected to our Maker, if one connects with, and believes in Jesus Christ, including all his claims.
If there is not a God, what do you feel the connection that many artists have comes from?
GB: There can only be two connections, or sources: good and evil, although it really is not ‘duality’. For ‘evil’ is not equal with ‘good’, for evil comes from good – – like milk, turning sour, or spoiling. But, like spoiled milk transformed to be good again like cheese, etc., humans likewise can transform to be good again. But, a baby born is still essentially not good in nature, according to the scriptures, for a baby still has his own self in Adam. This is where Jesus Christ, the second Adam, comes in. The transformation of one’s old self in Adam to one’s new self in Christ is where it all matters. I panic when this is not realized by a member of my family. This is the reason why I try my very best to express, not in the usual evangelistic way, the truth of Jesus Christ. I was the last member of the family to believe in my father’s Christian religion. I had tried transcendental meditation where I had a Brahmin guru from the Himalayas who lived with the wild animals for 3 years. He was picking garbage in front of my friend’s house. He was seeking asylum in the Philippines for political reason. (this is a long story) This led to my art exhibit, “In Search of the Divine”:
I’m agnostic and have my doubts but I also want to believe.
GB: One has to dive into the water to find out, for he will always rely on himself which is far from being trustworthy. I was incomplete without Christ. I found my true self in Christ: Byron, may I share with you this cell phone video by my son, David. (Glenn w/ son, David, niece, Dindin & nephew, Kiko – the early part is in ‘Tagalog’ (Filipino dialect), but somehow, I shifted to English when I explained to them about my father and mother’s mission): David, w/ Kiko & Dindin – interview Glenn
I know you are Christian and that your belief has gotten you through a lot of recent hard times with your cancer and treatment. Have you ever had any sort of divine message come to you through prayer?
GB: Although I pray a lot, divine messages to me come in the form of realizations, dreams and once, in a visual experience with my son, David. Many times, even as I question the untoward incidents coming my way, I continue to persevere and stay steadfast in my faith. Here is one visual experience I had with my son, David: “Out of God’s Grace”
I ask, because I know you have been so close to the other side that you might have a closer connection than I do to the other world, if there is one.
GB: Definitely, there is one. God, through Christ, has this eternal longing to be close to us, his creation. We only have to accept God, through his son. God became man and lived with men for a while – – the only way to bring us back to our Creator after Adam and Eve sinned. Sin separates us from God, and the wages of sin is death (death of the spirit).
You and I are artists, we create, and we like or dislike it. When we don’t like it, we trash it. God can do that likewise. But, he tries not to, but comes up with a solution to bring us back to his fold. He is like the diver who dives into the depths of the sea to find a treasure. The treasure is us. That’s how much he loves us. He gave us the ‘free will’ to choose him or death, eternal life or eternal punishment. That’s why Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the father except through me.” Either we accept that, or not. He can make us “automatons” so we have no choice than to follow Him, but He doesn’t want that. He freely gives and freely receives.
If you could look back over all the years of your artwork and describe your work with a few lines, what would it be?
GB: My life is my art, my art is my life, and I side with the good to later on view everything from the Christian standpoint – a final awakening, a final realization, a final decision that leads to inner peace and joy. This is so infectious that all members of my family share the same peace and joy across the oceans and the mountains.
What have your goals been as an artist? (For instance, I seek to fight apathy through learning empathy for all of creation)
GB: ‘Empathy’ is what great people have for others. In essence, you are a Christian, if you truly practice empathy. It means that they feel with, feel for, and they are willing to risk anything leading to completion and fulfillment for others. People who practice ‘empathy’, though not Christians will make God happy and He will continue to strengthen and bless them. Christ looks at one’s heart, not what he does, or make himself appear to be. I learned more about empathy because of my ailment. Remember the story of Christ’s disciples plucking, eating corn, or wheat on a Sabbath day? Christ scolded the Pharisees by saying, you hypocrites, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. – Mark 2:27
What projects are you working on now?
GB: My ailment led to a lot of activities. I have been invited to speak; to share my experience with other cancer patients; to re-unite with friends and family in California / Philippines; preparing to resume online blogging; pursue my art with a bit more focus and passion; play golf with old and new friends. From my recent pastels, I feel that I am slowly shifting to another approach to art making, which I will find out, soon. At present, I am merely reciprocating the support, care and appreciation that old and new friends have extended me through this art series: Digi-Ana Pastel Portraits – 1978-2013
What type of cancer do you have? When and how did you realize you had it? What types of treatments have you had so far?
GB: I had colon cancer, more specifically on my sigmoid colon that obstructed the passage leading to four-day constipation. My surgeon informed me that the CT scan and x-rays revealed a smaller than a golf ball size was an obstruction in my sigmoid colon causing my constipation. After my surgery (a month stay at San Jacinto hospital) necessary for healing through therapy, painkillers, bp, sugar and oxygen monitoring, IV (no solid food) medications: iron, B complex, tamsulosin and finasteride for my prostate, etc., my surgeon further advised me to consult with some oncologists at LBJ hospital and Smith Clinic (both in Houston, TX) about any possible needed treatment.
When you decided to discontinue chemo and go the natural route, what guides did you use for that? How has your cancer reacted since you went off chemo? What type of diet are you following?
GB: I felt relieved. All the side effects of chemo disappeared: weakening, losing weight, sensitive to sun (little exposure got me sunburned), darkening of hands and feet, soreness of face and chapping/cracking of lips, pins and needles disallowing me to walk.
I felt normal again and got stronger each day that passes, much more when I started to learn about the proper diet for a cancer patient that strengthened my natural killer cells (NKs) – 50% plant protein, 25% good fruits and 25% good & low glycemic carbs; I also learned much from other cancer survivors who helped me learn about supplements to take to address cancer cells, like: DXN Lingzhi mushroom black coffee, DXN Reishi-Gano & Ganocelium, Xango (mangoosteen skin extract), Magnascent Iodine, Graviola tea, IP-6 & Inositol Plus Maitake & Cat’s Claw, Turmeric (natural or capsules), cinnamon & ashitaba (sugar metabolism). I used to take these supplements religiously and in their proper order, noting if they should be taken before, during or after meals. Preparing one’s tummy is also essential. Alkalizing with just lemon and water, yoghurt then yoghurt+goji berries, then fruit-veggie smoothie before any meal.
Recently, I have only been taking the least of this regimen. I try to get the necessary nutrients from real food, and take the least medications if food can better address a condition like my hypertension. I hardly take any medication because of a proper diet.
I used to go regularly to the gym, but I learned that a regular, short and fast workout is a lot better for healing. Also, any form of good oxygen through our veins will hasten healing, for invaders in our system will not survive if we satisfy our body’s need of 75% oxygen. Most people beyond 35 yrs. only have 10-20% oxygen in their body. I still meditate regularly, warm up and stretching, shadow and real-time chipping, pitching, putting, etc.
You have such a large collection of work, have you thought of what will happen when your story has been told?
GB: My ‘300+ Personal art collection’ are quite secure, presently exhibited at my own art gallery/studio in the Philippines (Glenn’Studio/Gallery) My elder sister, Loida and her two daughters, Bes and Doris and five shih-tzus, who live there, continue to take care of my works and my place. This place is also their design studio: Designworkers
I have around 130pcs – 18”x24” pastels, 15 big oils and 10 collages with me now, here in Houston, TX. I have not had the interest yet in finding a venue to properly exhibit them: Glenn’s works in TX
Being a cancer survivor myself, I often think about what would happen to my work, if anything, when I’m gone.
GB: You can slowly prepare for this. Even I, having my works at my place, am thinking of finding a sponsor who would be interested in housing all my works permanently, exhibiting them for public viewing. In return, the sponsor may somehow help sustain my family for some length of time.
I hope to help inspire my wife and children, with a legacy of work that they can hold onto to remember me by.
GB: I’m sure, they would love that. So, either exhibit your works at your own place, or find a sponsor for your works.
Have you found your cancer bring you closer to your family and loved ones?
GB: Yes, ever closer. They will do anything to express their love and care for me: Family & Friends photos
Have you found it bring you closer to your work?
GB: Yes, and with more meaning.
I have found it to give me a sort of mystical connection to life and what is important?
GB: I can understand that, and experienced the same. I experienced this type of connection in 1976 when I was into transcendental meditation in Europe (student days-’72) but, looking back, I have realized that meditation (Pantheism) and Christianity are not the same. It is a ‘watershed’ issue. They seem to look the same, in essence, but when the snow melts, they go their separate ways.
Btw, here’s a letter I wrote to you some months (around Nov 2012) back while we were still living in Baytown, TX:
– – – –
Our common experience (surgery) makes us realize that there is someone there who cares for us, for we have a common source and destiny if we stay connected to the Source.
Although I am still processing Edgar Cayce’s readings, (Story of Jesus) I already consider him as my cosmic brother, to some extent. Perhaps, he has gone too far in believing in reincarnation. But manifestations of this were only perceived when he was asleep. He could hardly remember any when awake. Reading his book somehow reactivated my parietal lobes, especially the right.
I grew up as a PK (pastor’s kid), my father being a Methodist minister in the Philippines. But, I did not stay a Methodist but had tried others when I traveled US, Europe and the Philippines. In 1976, I was much into meditation after several “satsangs” from a Brahmin picking up garbage in the streets of Manila. Manila’s “cream of the crop” gave importance to him who, soon, became our guru for several months. I became “clairvoyant” and could predict the future, one of which was the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship. Nobody believed me before he fell. I could drink half the bottle of Johnny Walker whisky and not get drunk. I seemed to have powers I could not explain myself. I quietly condescended on anybody who did not have the same perception I had, and that included my family and their religion.
I still operate on this level, although I have established the demarcation line between pantheism and Christianity. I am also thankful that I had gone through meditation. I still meditate, but in a Christian way – – without using my ‘mantra’.
By now, I only account to my creator and myself. I do not expect anything from others. I always do my best to help and love others much like how Christ expressed his love for his own. My wife and I are not religious, but we accept the claims of Christ who until now has not let us down. He is the reason why there is genuine love between Lorna and myself and our son, David, despite our physical separation from him. David is now 24 years old and now working with PHILEC in Batangas, Philippines. He plays the drums for the company during worship.
Thank you, Byron.
– – – –
BK: I don’t see career, money, or material wealth desirable to me. I dream of a small cabin near a fresh water source, where we can home school our children. I dream of a simpler time that many have already experienced. I would like to subtract 100 years from humanity.
GB: That’s easily achievable if you live like Thoreau, or with the Amish community. I lived in a similar one, as I mentioned before, where we could drink from the brook or spring and survive from what nature could offer. However, as my wife and son pursue their own respective dreams that would require a lot of adjustments, and physical changes where you live. I lived without television, electricity and computer for a while until I found myself no longer single. My art studio itself started simple, but the elements made me change the design for protection against the elements. The heat made me come up with lower and upper vents to maintain healthy air, but designed it such that rain and insects won’t get in. There’s no space between the roof and ceiling for the roof is also the ceiling, so as rats, cats, birds cannot make the space their home, creating problems for us, later on, etc. Bikes and tricycles and thieves had gone inside our compound, so I had to build a strong concrete fence with metal railings to protect us.
I would avail of present technology and conveniences if these would help protect, enhance and simplify the life and needs of my family.
What do you think about the story of humanity?
GB: To me, the bigger whole and the smallest are the same; wars are going on between ‘good and bad’, outside and inside our body. The occupants can do something about it by staying vigilant.
Byron, I wrote this knowing that one day I would be crossing over to the other side:
I treasure the privilege and the blessing of my physical existence on this part of the universe called Mother Earth – to have the rare opportunity to feel, sense, touch and taste what this physical life can offer. Yet, these physical sensations are nothing to compare with the majestic splendor of what our loving Creator has prepared for us. I thank God with all my heart for the total life experiences I have been blessed with and for the assurance of an everlasting life with Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I am resting on His great promise when He said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would not have told you”. (John 14:2)
If you could tell the story, where do you see it ending?
GB: From what I now know, life is unending. Even physical death does not end it all. There is the ‘life after’ and ‘eternal death after’, meaning – punishment that never ends, according to the scriptures. We suffer the consequences of our actions on another level. The scriptures are very clear on this. ‘Fire and brimstone’, or God’s wrath will apply to those who refuse to listen and believe. A day will also come that people will beg for God’s words and saving grace, but will no longer be available.
Do you feel we will survive another 100 years?
GB: From the scriptures and from my point of view, nothing ends. This earth is going but will be replaced according to the ‘revelations’ of Saint John. My guess is it will be the same earth but a transformed one. My spirit too, will live forever. God will decide what form it will take. Only He can do that, a kind of incarnation, perhaps . . I can catch myself thinking and behaving like Leonardo da Vinci, or Michelangelo. We don’t really know. My ‘Heaven & Earth’ oils, deal with this theme.
When it is over, when life comes to an end, what do you think will be at the end of the tunnel of light?
As I said, it will not end, much like when a baby that comes out from his mother’s womb, we also will come out from earth to another space and time.
Thank you my friend. I appreciate your time, life and honesty.
GB: Thanks, too, Byron – – this interview contributed to my healing. ‘Agape’ love to Dana and your two lovely daughters.
G l e n n B a u t i s t a , A r t i s t