By Melissa Dunson
“Art when really understood is the province of every human being. It is simply a question of doing things, anything, well. It is not an outside, extra thing.”
— Robert Henri, “The Art Spirit” (1923)
CARTHAGE, Mo. — Larry Glaze, 67, is a happy man.
He is a husband, a father and a grandfather. He loves his country and his God. He is devoted to the nature around him — human, animal and plant. He wakes up early, works hard and sleeps like a man with a clear conscience.
Glaze is an artist.
He chooses not to express himself with watercolors or oil paints. His medium is neither clay nor marble. Glaze uses nature — the things around him — to show the beauty he sees as so evident in the world. His supplies are the antlers and horns from deer, elk, moose and big-horn sheep. The metal he uses is taken from old 1930s art deco lamps. He uses Osage Orange or Hedge wood and inlays it with bits of turquoise and copper.
He creates functional pieces in the form of tables, chandeliers and lamps that transcend furniture into the area of art.
Some of his pieces will weigh more than 1,000 pounds by the time he’s done piling antlers, wood and metal together. The one-of-a-kind creations sit in homes and offices from New York to New Mexico.
“A lot of people think that art has to be an oil painting,” Glaze said. “It’s made me realize that a lot of people didn’t know what art is.”
A happy man
Glaze is most famous for his eagles.
He fashioned his signature pieces after the American Indian carvings that formed the symbolic bird from a carved head and a single moose antler for the wing. Glaze took two antlers crossed them and attached a cast metal head. There are hundreds of those eagles currently sitting in homes across the world.
His work has been featured in Log Home Living, Mountain Living, Missouri Conservationist, Women in the Outdoor and Contemporary Western Designs-Style Furniture & Interiors. He’s won the People’s Choice Award multiple times at the annual Western Design Conference in Cody, Wyo., and the Artist Award for the Celebrity Hunt of Quail Unlimited.
Despite all his recent success, Glaze is still, at his core, just a happy man — someone fortunate enough to find the things that make him smile.
And those things are everywhere in his horse-barn turned studio. Almost every inch has Glaze’s fingerprints on it. He added a woodburning fireplace made of rock, and has several stuffed wild animals displayed on it. He’s built special glass bottles and antique doors from other parts of his life into the walls of the old barn.
Several of the walls are lined with the photos of and letters from some of the famous and everyday people he has met along his journey. Next to a photo of Glaze with Bass Pro Shop founder Johnny Morris is another photo of an average pre-teen boy with the first deer he ever shot. They both bring a smile to Glaze’s sharp blue eyes.
Those eyes still tear up when he talks about the young, terminally-ill boy he bonded with during a Catch a Dream camp, the outdoor version of the Make a Wish Foundation. Glaze fed him. He sat around a camp fire and sang songs with him. And finally, Glaze sent him back with a cooler full of deer meat.
“He called me and said, ‘Mr. Larry, I had the best time of my life, and I wanted to thank you,’” Glaze said. “And two days later, he was gone.”
It’s because of experiences like that, that make Glaze not take time with his loved ones for granted. He lives within driving distance of his younger brother, Morris Glaze, a Joplin city councilman. And his children and his grandchildren live on the same property where he and his wife of 45 years, Judy, built their house and where his studio sits.
‘I’ve been blessed’
Glaze said he can’t wait to get down to that studio each morning to go to work.
He rises as early as 2 a.m., has a cup of coffee with Judy, and walks across the field to his work station. He repeats that routine seven days a week. He proudly said he’s never been late on a project and could happily sand tables all day.
“I couldn’t ask for a better life,” he said. “God’s been good to me.”
Nature is a form of art to Glaze. In fact, everything done with passion that makes a human connection is art in Glaze’s eyes. He said a housewife raising her children can be art. The whole world, he said, can be art.
And he’s patient. If he doesn’t see the art at first, he gives it time. He waits for the forms to present themselves as he walks out to his “bone yard” of old hedge stumps and looks for the right piece.
“I look at it one day, and it’s not there,” he said. “But I come out the next day, and I see it.”
In a way, Glaze’s artistic process is a picture of his life. From his patriotic heart and large Missouri state flag flying over his shop, to his simple organizational system consisting of a yellow legal pad and a pen, rather than a computer, Glaze is a rough piece of wood, rubbed smooth by the hand of time.
If at first the intrinsic beauty in his way of life isn’t obvious, look again. He is a man with mistakes, but no regrets. He’s learned to be happy with and without. And embraced the cowboy inside that speaks his mind, opens doors for ladies and isn’t afraid to put in a hard day’s work.
“When you get older, your lifestyle changes — you realize you need things, but you don’t need things,” Glaze said. “I’ve been blessed, and I’m happy.”
By Melissa Dunson
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