Mr. G. in 3 Dimensions

G. Kellum is an artist, painter, sculptor, and full-blown Bok legend. We sat down with him last month in his quiet, sunny studio, a space full of graphic and multi-dimensional creations. G., in his signature paint-splattered overalls, talks to us about his mission as an artist, his first tour of Bok, and the woman who motivated him to pursue his passion.

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We are excited to introduce an exciting new series called #TenantTalks. Every week, we will be featuring one of our tenants and having them answer the questions you posed a few weeks back. Get ready to get schooled about all our amazing tenants! 

Can you describe what you do in a sentence or two?

I want to manifest things materially that I see within myself based on things going on around me. I like to project these things that I find most exciting. 

How would you describe these manifestations? 

I think that every serious artist sees themselves as a time traveller. And we have a message. What I try to manifest are physical messages that people can look at and perhaps see something within my work that speaks to them about their experience, about their ancestors experience, about their future experience. I try to do that in all of my projects, all of my adventures. Whether that is vertical sculptures, wall sculptures, two-dimensional paintings. 

How did you become a full-time artist?

This is gonna be real simple: I met a lady. When we met, we were just young and in love and she saw my potential. There were a lot of things that influenced me, but it took a while to really find my stride, my voice, where I wanted to go. She was like a shortcut. She kicked my behind, she challenged me. She was the very person that was responsible for my going to art school, University of the Arts.

“It’s a continuum, it’s a flow of energy, a combination of ego and my ego moving aside to some degree to let something bigger motivate me and work through me and then manifest itself three dimensionally.”

How did you find Bok?

I didn’t find it, my sister found it for me. She said, “Glenn, you need to come down here. I think you would find this interesting.” I read about this “Bok” experiment. It grasped my curiosity. 

Within a week, I came down and met Lily Goodspeed. The building was dark and dingy and stanked a little bit, like maybe a cat lived in the hallway for a while. But if you have a vision, you can see things. The building just excited me. Not only that, I was really curious about what it was like inside, being that I hadn’t been in this building since 1960. I went to my brother’s graduation. I was just a little kid. I came here with my parents and went to the auditorium. 

What’s your experience with the community?

This community has been very, very supportive of me. I say this almost in a selfish way. I would need something and there are those here, within this building, under this roof, that have helped me out a great deal. Helping me build things in relationship to my work here, some of the furniture people have helped me out. The glass people downstairs, Remark, they are great people. Danielle and Becky and Mark, they have been phenomenally helpful in making me feel comfortable. And Scout, Scout was very instrumental in me feeling very comfortable here. 


What are you most proud to have created?

How can I compare it, in terms of feeling really great and excited? It’s a continuum, it’s a flow of energy, a combination of ego and my ego moving aside to some degree to let something bigger motivate me and work through me and then manifest itself three dimensionally. That’s actually an easy question, because there’s no singular thing that I feel is my greatest achievement, outside of the physical.

If you could only give one piece of advice to upcoming artists, what would it be?

I don’t want to sound cliche, but it is believe in your path, have faith in yourself. Trust yourself. The other side of the coin is to surround yourself with like-minded human beings, that you can encourage each other. 

Can you tell us about the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Yes, and I dropped the ball. 

We were all sitting in class, in college, and the professor’s name was Ronald Dwarfman. I can see him right now. If he walked in the door, I would recognize him. Ron Dwarfman sat us down and gave us the best advice as far as the arts are concerned. He said: Learn the business of art. You’re going to find yourself in a lot of situations, artist agreement contracts, you know, things of that nature, and if you’re not used to treading that territory, you get burnt a lot. 

It’s good to understand the business of art. I never forgot that. I dropped the ball, but I have friends that say “let’s help this poor soul along so he doesn’t hurt himself to some degree.” I’m a pretty good delegator. I find people that I trust who are good at this and good at that. I have people here in this building. Arsenal Mediaworks is building my Instagram. We work together. I’m learning from these people and making sure that I do my homework.

Visit glenn-kellum.squarespace.com to learn more about G.

Photos by Michael Persico