By Rose Klein
Greene Publishing, Inc.
James Glaser is an artist who lived in a log cabin in the “woods” of Minnesota. Wanda Violet is a Director of Product Development and Curriculum Writer for a company based out of Atlanta, and was living in Tallahassee. They are now husband and wife and live in Madison County off of Colin Kelly Highway, where Glaser has carved out his own private park and art studio, while Violet telecommutes to her job in Tallahassee.
Glaser and Violet have a modern love story; they met on an online dating site, married in Georgia in 2008 at a wedding and dinner attended by their adult children and by 2009, the couple had moved to Madison and now express how happy they are to be part of the Madison community.
After living in Tallahassee, Glaser began to miss his woods and the couple began searching for a new residence. They spoke to several realtors, but were unable to find their “holy grail,” until when out driving one day, they stumbled upon a Fifth Saturday Celebration in Madison. Violet says Glaser was “smitten” with the celebration, Mrs. Leslie’s 10-layer cakes and the town. Glaser and Violet found realtors, Lynette Sirmon and Ben Jones, who they described as sweet and very helpful, and the first agents who seemed intent on helping the couple find their dream home.
Their house search ended with the Cason home on Dusty Miller Avenue and after moving in, the extremely creative couple began making the house their own. While Violet concentrated on work, the inside of the home and planting flowers, Glaser began carving out the yard and creating wood structures all over the property’s landscape. He made paths through the acreage, tearing at vines and shrubs until the property more resembles a park as opposed to the wooded lot that previously accompanied the home. With the help of new friends such as TC Hudson, Dwayne Mitchell and Randy Funk, he built a two-story tree house, a potting shed for his gardening habit and a large shop where he can wile away the hours creating his art.
One of the discoveries Glaser made while developing his backyard park, along with a fig tree and Tung Oil tree, was a sculpture made from rebar that was bent and twisted to resemble what we agreed looked like an insect, a grasshopper or praying mantis maybe. Both Glaser and Violet would like to meet the artist and be able to place a plaque beside the fun piece bearing the creator’s name, but need help from the community in order to identify this person.
When Glaser is not working in the yard, he is working in his shop, creating beautiful works of art with wood. It is said that in times of great catastrophe or impending doom, ones eyes tend to open up and suddenly see and appreciate the small details of life around them; this is exactly how James Glaser’s passion for creating art from wood began. While sitting in a bunker during a rocket attack in Dung Ha, South Vietnam, the young marine, while waiting for the rockets to find their target, noticed someone had taken the time to carefully construct the wooden joint and crafted two, 2-inch square pegs and pounded them into round holes, serving to hold the bunker together securely. This
appreciation of craftsmanship started Glaser thinking about building with wood and after returning to the states, he attended a fine arts program at a university where he was allowed to use their woodworking shop at will. From there, he moved to Northern Minnesota and continued to work with wood, refining and honing his skills.
Since 1972, James Glaser has shown his work through exhibits in Minnesota, Arizona, Chicago, Ontario, Washington D.C., California and recently Tallahassee. After moving to Madison, he now limits his shows to Invitational Art Shows, allowing him to focus less time on showing and more time on creating. He built his studio according to his needs, with good lighting and ventilation and large windows, which allows him a great view of the environment around him; his park, the woods and the occasional passing wildlife. Glaser can now take a break and walk to his garden where he can weed and water or walk to the house and visit with Violet.
Glaser also makes beautiful cutting boards for the kitchen and those can be seen in town at The Country Store on Range Street, at Tupelo’s in Monticello or LeMoyne Art Center in Tallahassee. To learn more about James Glaser, or to see his art, you can go to his website at www.jamesglaserstudios.com or call (850) 973-8813 to make an appointment. And if you go to see Glaser-Violet Park or Glaser’s studio, don’t forget to check out and cast your opinion on the mystery sculpture.