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The Midnight Fog

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Date Minted:  August 5, 2020

Artist Description: Behind each lit window there is a life story, each unique and yet similar. Silhouettes strolling or running, sometimes rocking or resting. The bit of imagination and curiosity is needed to see it, but it's there. About the art: I love young adult and children't fantasy stories, because of the mystery and creativity. I tried to capture the "night-time stories" feeling in this artwork. I used strong color contrast to catch the attention and to create focus on the windows. First I drew the building silhouettes with gradating blue shades. Then I added the window shapes and silhouettes. The final lights are on a separate layer set to color dodge layer on low opacity. The smog is another layer set to screen adjustment and then I masked some areas to blend it better into the scene.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Yes, in KristyGlas’ works, there are figures and fantastical elements, Cthulus and dragons and skulls and strange potions in crystalline containers. There are wonders from faraway worlds, pulled from the artist’s imagination, but all of that is window dressing to Glas’ greatest coup: her environments. Because it’s not about what populates Glas’ worlds, but the worlds themselves, incredibly creative and colorful and rich depictive tapestries of moments in time in places beyond the pale of mere fantasy. There are places great and bizarre, and others intimately personal, though we can’t quite figure out why. The Midnight Fog is one of the latter examples, a bit of a London-esque cityscape cloaked in every hue of blue, purple, and indigo. “Behind each lit window there is a life story, each unique and yet similar. Silhouettes strolling or running, sometimes rocking or resting,” the artist writes in her accompanying Description, describing the goings-ons behind all of the orange-lit windows which give this piece life, which give it movement, which propel it forward on the back of narrative despite the arguably-complete lack of human figures present. The Midnight Fog tricks you with associations, sending you back through your own mind for similar cityscapes and recognized fog. It populates itself with the characters from your own life, the sounds they made and the situations they were in that one night all those years ago, in that strange city somewhere…else. 

Not to get too stylistic with the writing, but doesn’t a piece like this deserve it? Doesn’t it just feel literary? I’m reminded of British literature around the first decades of the 20th century. All concern a place I obviously never saw or visited but which I’ve felt come alive in the works of Graham Greene and D.H. Lawrence: the kerosene lamps on the street corners, men in sweeping cloaks, and shadowy figures in alleyways. Those British novelists had a way of evoking color and mood in a way Glas seems adept at. The Midnight Fog itself is a mood: the swirling, flat and half-frightening night time settling into a cityscape. And all the things the glowing moon can’t quite illuminate. And our view as observers of this piece, as if standing on the top of some cobblestone hill, seeing into all the warm homes through all their glowing windows, but knowing their warmth is not for us, that we must continue on exposed to the elements. Glas’ city is all black and blue and bathed in shadow, these church-like apartments and boarding-houses characterized by their grated, circular windows, by their pointed roofs and complete domination of the skyline. Though we can see into many windows, all we can see behind them are abstract shapes. Not a single definitive human figure (or animalian one, for that matter, though one can imagine this place crawling with cats) to be found. It’s interesting, this landscape upon which a human presence (electric or gas lighting) is so carefully and powerfully conveyed, and yet the human source is totally absent. Up in the sky —itself a blended set of turquoise and whites, dark and royal and baby blues— a full moon glowers down at the ground, partially blocked by a wayward cloud. And then, of course, the fog itself, a slight and spectral set of wispy lines that clearly exist only in places. Most of the piece is inflected by a suggestion of the fog more than the actual fog itself. 

The collected effect of all this realism is a sense of movement, place, and plot. Even without a title as elucidating as The Midnight Fog, we naturally seek out stories, and Glas’ composition is full of them. But they’re all secrets, you see? They’re tucked into the alleyways and lantern-lit windows. And this is where our own experiences begin filling in the physical gaps that Glas left open for us. What memories does this composition conjure? Those things will begin to appear in The Midnight Fog’s many subliminal spaces. Names, physical archetypes, accents. A bit of a Dr. Who episode here, and maybe one weird, foggy Boston night where we couldn’t see our hands in front of our faces as we walked across the Mass. Ave Bridge. So Glas didn’t need to place humans in the windows. She didn’t need to draw a cat on a fencepost or a swarm of bats flying past the moon. We do this all for her. Such is the suggestive power of her composition. 

Still, there is naturally a lack of resolution that emerges from this characteristic. Because we can’t find a figure to latch onto. Or a situation. Or anything more concrete than the landscape itself. And our memories/associations will ultimately prove as ephemeral as the shapes within the piece. Though that, in itself, is a kind of genius. Perhaps you’ve had this experience, or perhaps not, of looking out at a city through some tall window, possessed of an incredible view, and though you gaze out with great alacrity, taking notice of so many individual things, they all eventually fade, and you’re left not with a concrete memory of the city itself, but only with a dreamy association, everything swirled together.

The Midnight Fog is like that. It’s like a memory. The Midnight Fog is a place that doesn’t actually exist. We’ve dreamed it. KristyGlas has dreamed a dream for us. 

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