Friday Fry Up: William Glaser — My Father, The Cowboy Actor


Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? Putting lying on the same moral continuum as violence. What is it that interests you about photography? That it can lie and tell the truth. What is the worst thing about city life? Sights and smells. What part of the planet would you like to explore? The Islands of Japan…Specifically, the island of Shikoku. It’s the smallest of Japan’s main islands but has an incredible degree of variety in terms of topography. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Quantum Physics. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. Overnight security guard for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. I don’t think I have a “most important photo”, but I’ve been obsessing over this photograph by Magnum photographer Matt Black for the past few months. It’s been the source of constant discussion with my partner, but in essence, I can’t remember the last time I felt as if the camera wasn’t present (similar to a Jeff Wall piece). I’ve been fascinated with the idea of a photograph ‘breaking’ the mechanics of a camera…as if the act wasn’t a matter of “capturing” a moment, but living through it. At the risk of sounding especially exaggerative as I project my own interpretation of the work, I truly don’t know who authored this photograph. The act of covering your eyes when looking at the blinding sun over a barrel dry landscape is one that spans the length of our time on earth. The sheep, while amazingly framed, don’t need to (necessarily) be there. They’re a time stamp to inform us that we’re in a period where humans cultivate the land for agricultural and animal use. To me, this is the most “primal” photograph I’ve ever seen. How often do you take other people’s advice? Not often, but enough. Describe a personal hell. I go blind. Which living person do you most admire? Tom Sachs and Kerry James Marshall. On what occasion do you lie? Only for Photography. What is the best way to educate yourself? Read and go to the Library. The Internet is too big for me (sometimes). What is the next book you want to read? The Autobiography of Malcolm X. What object do you want? A (free) apartment overlooking Central Park on the Upper West Side. What object do you need? Eames Chair. How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? If you can imagine it, you can find it. Pick an historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. The French Revolution so I can be the first one to say “I’m just the Photographer!” Are impulses more important than consequences? Sometimes. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? Walk my dogs, read, listen to music, book a few flights, think about photography, and photograph.

On December 19th, my Father made a surprise visit to my apartment in New York City. He got in late the night before from Flagstaff, Arizona and stayed the night at an old friend’s apartment in the Upper West Side. When he called me, I wasn’t sure what to expect or what to say since I hadn’t seen him in several years. When he came to my apartment, I made a portrait of him, and subsequently followed him around while he showed me what stood in place of his favorite bars, restaurants, and stores he used to peruse when he lived in New York City. After a week of being with my Father again, I realized I had to follow him back to his home in rural Arizona to photograph him and live with my Father for the first time.

For the first twenty-three years of my life, I never had a stable nor strong relationship with my Father. He was a distant member of our family that paid for our expenses, demanded time to see us on the weekend but was pushed away due to family dynamics and my preferred affiliation for my Mother. His career as an actor in New York City lasted twenty-five years, and upon the release of his children to higher education in places far from our hometown, he promptly left to become a cowboy just outside Flagstaff, Arizona. It’s only now that I’m beginning to comprehend the broken connection I have with my Father that I never cared to fix or understand. The man, my Father, Charles Glaser, is an enigmatic character and I attempt to comprehend his being and our relationship through Photography and Dialogue. By revisiting Charles’s old letters, documents and living with my Father in the desert, I attempt to trace my Father’s psychological journey while photographing his current self and the high desert that surrounds him.

William’s photograph’s celebrate regional-specific individuals and objects while exploring possible narratives. He is also a Writer for Aint-Bad Magazine, a publisher of new photographic art. William currently resides in Minneapolis, MN. To see more of his work visit: