Monday, September 10, 2018

Wyeth - Glenn Holsten Interview

Photo Content from Glenn Holsten

Glenn Holsten is a documentary storyteller who creates human-driven films, from the arts to the sciences.

Long-form documentary directing credits include Flowing Water (6abc); The Barefoot Artist (Netflix); OC87: The Obsessive-Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie, (theatrical release, 2012, Netflix); Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958-1968, (OVATION, 2010); and Saint of 9/11, (Tribeca Film Festival, IFC theatrical release, 2006, Netflix).

Glenn has been honored with sixteen Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards. A collection of his work was exhibited in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s 20th Century Video Gallery. Glenn has directed films in China, Portugal, Kenya, Rwanda, Northern Ireland, Poland, Bosnia and the Republic of Georgia.


In your new movie; WYETH can you tell my readers a little about it?
WYETH is a documentary about the life and work of painter Andrew Wyeth – who, at one time, was one of America’s most popular artists. Through interviews with family members, art historians and archival interviews with Andrew Wyeth himself, we learn about his life and his work. He was trained by his father, famed illustrator N.C. Wyeth; had meteoric success as a young man – critical acclaim and sold out shows in NYC galleries; financially successful painter who lost favor with the art establishment when abstract expressionism became the definition of modern art in the 1950s and 60s; he retreated to his two worlds – Chadds Ford, PA and Cushing, ME; and continued to paint his world, despite the crushing critical backlash to his work. All the while, he remained incredibly popular and financial successful. Today, he emerges as a painter of depth and meaning. A different way to be modern.

What was the most difficult scene in the movie to shoot?
Andrew Wyeth was a huge fan of winter and snow, and we waited for a great big snowstorm to hit the Chadds Ford, PA neighborhood in which he walked and worked. On that day we traveled there to early to beat the storm, and then filmed mid storm. Wind and snow are not really friends of expensive cameras and drones – however, with the help of many creative umbrella configurations and fingers crossed, we made some beautiful pictures.

In this production, we were lucky enough to have access to many of the places that had meaning to the painter. Filming in his studio, and his father (N.C. Wyeth’s studio) in Chadds Ford and the Olson House in Maine were exciting, but challenging because they are historic in nature and we had to tiptoe around many of the artifacts.

What do you hope for people to be thinking when they watch the WYETH?
I would love for people to suspend their preconceptions about Andrew Wyeth and watch the show with new eyes. His work is really glorious, however it’s also dark and mysterious, and full of drama. Not words usually associated with the painter. 

  • 1. You’ll learn the story behind the famous painting “Christina’s World” and meet Christina Olson, the inspiration for the figure in the painting.
  • 2. You’ll meet Helga Testorff, Andrew Wyeth’s muse and model and subject of the controversial and secret “Helga” paintings that caused a media frenzy when they were released. 
  • 3. You’ll experience over 500 works by the artist – sketches, watercolors, and egg tempera paintings. It will really expand your thinking about what Andrew Wyeth painted.
  • 4. You’ll find out about the people who were most influential in his life, including famous illustrator N.C. Wyeth, and Betsy Wyeth, his wife and (self-taught) business manager.
  • 5. You’ll see many cool home movies of the Wyeth family having fun, fooling around and mugging for the camera.
  • 6. You’ll have an insider peek into the private spaces where some of the artist’s most remarkable work was made – his studio in Chadds Ford and the Olson house in Maine.
  • 7. You’ll see stunning footage of Maine and Chadds Ford, PA that will have you planning your next road trip to these locations, visiting these sites that were important to his life, that are now open to the public, thanks to the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, PA and the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine.
  • 8. You’ll learn about Andrew Wyeth’s “war memory.”
  • 9. You’ll meet his sons, Jamie and Nathaniel Wyeth, and hear their reflections on how their parents worked as an art team.
  • 10. You’ll not only be inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s work and his art-making methods, you’ll be inspired by thoughts and observations in fantastic archival interviews (ie.“ When you know something and feel it and have a love for it, my God, do it. Don't let it go!”).
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in directing?
Make sure you really love the story you want to tell. Most films – especially independent films -- take years to make. (In truth, that’s not always a bad thing – I’ve found that time allows you to bond with your subjects on a deeper level than any short term video project would allow). You’ve got to be sure that you have enough passion for your story to help carry you through the years it takes to complete the film. Tap into the creativity of your teammates – whoever is helping you make your film.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
In addition to art stories (which I love), I do a lot of work in the mental health field (which I also love). I’m particularly happy to do a series of short documentaries for a website called OC87 Recovery Diaries
( – a website that was an outgrowth of a feature documentary that I directed many years ago ( about a man living with multiple mental health challenges.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another movie, who would it be and why?
I work in documentary, so I think I’d like to have a great dinner party with Father Mychal Judge (Saint of 9/11), Jim Wheeler (Jim in Bold), Rachel “Hollywood” Carr (Hollywood Beauty Salon), Bud Clayman (OC87) and Lily Yeh (The Barefoot Artist). I know they’d all be interested in meeting and learning from each other. I’d invite Andrew Wyeth to paint their portraits.

If you could live in any period in history, where would it be and why?
Right here, right now.

As a storyteller, I think the tools we have access to are pushing me further as a filmmaker, and my projects have never been more interesting.

If I wasn’t a filmmaker, though, I’d choose to be a lead singer in a 1940s swing band.

WYETH tells the story of one of America’s most popular, but least understood, artists – Andrew Wyeth. Son of the famous illustrator N.C. Wyeth, Andrew had his first exhibition at age 20, and his painting “Christina’s World” was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 1948. While Wyeth’s exhibitions routinely broke attendance records, art world critics continually assaulted his work. Detailing the stunning drawings and powerful portraits he created in Chadds Ford, Pa. and on the coast of Cushing, Maine, WYETH explores his inspirations, including neighbor Christina Olsen and his hidden muse, the German model Helga Testorf, who he painted secretly for 15 years. Through unprecedented access to Wyeth’s family members, including sons Jamie and Nicholas Wyeth, and never-before-seen archival materials from the family’s personal collection and hundreds of Wyeth’s studies, drawings and paintings,American Masters presents the most complete portrait of the artist yet — bearing witness to a legacy just at the moment it is evolving.


American Masters, THIRTEEN’s award-winning biography series, celebrates our arts and culture. Launched in 1986 on PBS, the series has produced an exceptional library, illuminating the lives of our most enduring writers, musicians, visual and performing artists, dramatists, filmmakers, activists, scientists and those who have left an indelible impression on our cultural landscape.American Mastershas earned 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 13 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. To further explore the lives and works of masters past and present,American Mastersoffers streaming video of select films, outtakes, filmmaker interviews, the American Masters Podcast, educational resources and more at The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET and also seen on the WORLD channel.

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you GLENN HOLSTEN for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a $20.00 Gift Card (from a Cinema of your choice). 
jbnpastinterviews, jbnfilms, jbnmediainterviews


  1. "What did you think of the trailer?" Excellent trailer! I like art documentaries!

  2. Thank you for including the trailer. It sold me on looking into the next airing of the film.