From nude to naked

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A suggestion from his girlfriend to paint the marlin's spear-tip flesh color meets with Doran's approval. He finds the idea in keeping with the sexual tone of the arrangement.

Sound bizarre? It is. But Doran loves to shock--and to watch your expression while he's doing it. "I don't want my work to be easily defined. But I'm very interested in what occurs in your head when you look at it and what that says about popular culture."

While Doran is direct and uninhibited, studiomate Gleckler, 45, speaks uncomfortably about himself and his paintings. He admits that he's been reluctant to bring dates to visit the studio, lest his work embarrass them.

Gleckler's nudes, while less graphic, derive their eroticism from the hedonistic poses of his models, as well as his skill in rendering a certain moody sensuality.

He has always drawn, even while pursuing other endeavors. He studied education at St. John's University and the University of Arizona, and before arriving in Dallas in 1990, he captained his own charter boat around the Caribbean. "Even though I'd always done things besides art, my desire to draw was something I couldn't ignore," he says. "Whenever I could, I found somebody who could teach me something."

For a couple of years he studied glass-blowing in New York City. When he got time away from his charter boat business, he worked with a pastel artist in Fort Myers, Florida.

Although he grew up in East Hampton, a short distance from the studio of renowned abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning--and even used to truck de Kooning's finished paintings from his studio to the local frame shop--Gleckler never developed an interest in abstract art. "Figurative drawing is the greatest challenge to me. I like to capture the mood conveyed by a face or a pose."

After selling his boat business, Gleckler came to Dallas to visit a friend. He had some money in his pocket, and an ardent desire to fine-tune his talent. He met Doran at the Creative Arts Center, a non-profit arts facility in East Dallas which offers classes in wood, stone, and metal sculpture, as well as studio space for local artists.

Doran took him on as an apprentice. A year later, they purchased their current studio, 5,000 square feet off Industrial Boulevard. They've worked there for two years, among work tables and plaster casts, discarded cigarette butts, and fashion photos clipped from glossy magazines.

Gleckler prefers to work in charcoal or pastels, explaining that his charcoals are more frequently commissioned because they are less expensive. "I may do a portrait for someone that results in several additional commissions. Sometimes a person will see one of my nudes and they want themselves painted so that they can point and say, 'See! This is what I looked like when I was 21!' That kind of work has provided me with a nice income for the last couple of years."

He is surprised that some people find his work shocking. After all, "they're just nudes.

"I was at a gallery where my work was being shown and I actually saw a woman lift her hand to shield her face from this painting," he recalls, indicating a work in charcoal.

The model in the work, titled "Torso," a nude, blonde bombshell with face turned away from the viewer, arches forward with her hips lifted in blatant invitation.

Just a passive rendering of the female form? Not exactly. Says Doran: "The work is done so finely that it's hard to dismiss."

Henry Hermetet, manager of the Milam Gallery, agrees. "My first impression of [Gleckler's] work was that it was wonderfully detailed. We wanted his charcoals to be affordable for our patrons, so he agreed to price them at around $850. They were very well received."

The two artists would like some day to do a show together, featuring some of their more controversial works. "I'd even like to call it 'The Power of Pussy,' and have people deal with that," says Doran. "The show would really be about the culture, but that would be the hook."

Gleckler and Doran both showed their work this summer in the Milam Gallery's annual 20th Century Erotic Art Show.

Justine Yeager, the gallery's owner, maintains two criteria for entry into the juried show. She admits no displays of unconsenting violence and no erotic displays of children. "If you look at some of the paintings of the old masters which hang in museums, you'll find that a lot of them violate these two criteria," she says. "They wouldn't make it into my show."

About 300 visual arts pieces were included, from about 90 regional artists. "This is a hard market for contemporary artists who want to display nudes. In most Dallasites' minds, if someone is painted nude, then they're obviously up to no good. I've said this before, but if Michelangelo's 'David' were in Dallas, he'd have to be wearing a suit and tie in order to be acceptable."

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Denise Spellman Getson