"Constructing Content" Exhibit Artists Explore Glass as Sculptural Medium

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Erin Antognoli mixes together steel, glass and imagery in her evocative sculptures.

Constructing Content brings together three artists from the Washington, DC area that explore the ways in which ideas are translated and transformed as artists move from one medium to another. Arriving at kiln-glass from diverse backgrounds, these crossover artists bring new concerns and techniques to the medium. Working at the Washington Glass School, Erin Antognoli, Sean Hennessey and Erwin Timmers are kindred spirits, and their 3 person show opens this weekend at the Delaplaine Arts Center in Maryland.

Sean Hennessey creates narrative cast glass panels.

“We are not in pursuit of the perfect object, or even, necessarily, beautiful objects.” explains painter and sculptor Sean Hennessey, “We are all driven by the narratives that we bring to our work. Our content drives and informs the imagery and the form. We treat glass like another artistic media, using it as an exploration of ideas” 

Erin Antognoli, “Heading West To Find a Bridge”, detail.

“I made the switch to glass and steel sculpture after nearly two decades as a photographer,” explains photographer and sculptor Erin Antognoli, “doing anything by hand seems to have become a lost art. Therefore, as a challenge to the age of digitization, it seemed fitting to me to hand-work the physical sculpture by grinding the glass circles, welding the steel frames, and showcasing handwritten letters.”

Erwin Timmers explores ecological implications in his recycled glass sculpture.

Other artists, through kiln-glass, find a reinforcement of their artistic beliefs. “There is a directness, freedom, and honesty I feel working in glass,” says Washington Glass School co-founder, Erwin Timmers. “I’m not sure I felt quite the same way in my years of sculpting metal.” Erwin works with recycled glass, and environmental integrity informs his work. He feels that material and content are intertwined. “I believe there are no neutral materials,” explains Erwin, “I try to use materials for their intrinsic and philosophical content.”

Sean Hennessey, “Promise Locks” detail.

These artists, with work as diverse as their backgrounds, are brought together because their unique visions have helped build a new direction for glass sculpture.

Erin Antognoli, “The Optimist”

Constructing Content

Historic Gallery of Glass @ Washington Craft Show 2012

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Maurine Littleton Gallery Exhibit at Washington Convention Center.

The Washington Craft Show was just held this past weekend. The juried event brings nearly 200 Contemporary Craft Artists (glass; furniture; ceramics; silver, bronze, and copper; mixed media; decorative and wearable textiles; jewelry; paper; and wood) to the Washington Convention Center, with an emphasis on quality and originality. 

The Washington Craft Show 2012 included a special 50th Anniversary glass exhibit.

This year, Washington, DC’s celebrated glass gallery – the Maurine Littleton Gallery held a special exhibit that was dedicated to the 50th Anniversary of the American Studio Glass Movement. 

Dale Chihuly glass artwork next to a Thermon Statom ladder.

As a show-within-the-show, the center of the Convention center featured seminal works by the man considered to be the father of the studio glass movement,  Harvey Littleton. The show included works from the famed 1962 Toledo Workshop, where artists were invited to look at glass as a viable sculpture medium. 

Michael Janis examines one of the 1962 Harvey Littleton original blown glass pieces from the Toledo Museum workshop – shown in period photo (inset). 

Some pix from the show: 

William Morris glass artwork foreground.
Visitors gather around Joan Falconer Byrd, author of the new book “Harvey K Littleton: A Life in Glass“. Ms Byrd was one of the show’s speakers at the event. She was one of the first students in the Toledo workshops and was Professor of Art at Western Carolina University.
Contemporary works by the artists of the Washington Glass School were included in the Maurine Littleton exhibit. L-R in above photo, works by Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers & Allegra Marquart.

Alison Sigethy’s glass sculpture.

The show also had some favorite DC craft based media artists exhibiting, like Ani Kasten showing her great ceramics, or Alison Sigethy’s recycled glass sculptures. 

Ani Kasten’s ceramic works.

Click HERE to jump to a photo gallery of artwork seen at the 2012 Washington Craft Show. 

The Process: Setting Up A Show

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Set-up and takedown of a big art fair is a daunting task – and not all glitterati, paparazzi and Illuminati. Although visitors to the large shows only experience the special exhibitions and lectures, a lot goes on before and after the show. SOFA CHICAGOreturned to Chicago’s Navy Pier in early November, 2012, and the WGS artists participating in the exhibit (Tim Tate, Michael Janis and Allegra Marquart) uploaded photos of the process. Much of the process shown below is centered around the Maurine Littleton Gallery space.

Driving the work for Washington’ DC’s Maurine Littleton Gallery to Chicagois artist Drew Graham. Besides being a mixed media artist, Drew works for the gallery, and is one of its featured artists.

 Navy Pier – jutting out into Lake Michigan has the central exhibition space ready for the exhibitors to set-up. The gallery team arrives early in the morning to begin the set-up.

Drew Graham pulls up the truck inside the event hall, and prepares to start unloading.

Glass artists John Littleton and Kate Vogel are already in the hall and begin to transport the artwork down to the booth space.

Gallery owner Maurine Littleton reviews the booth space and the layout of the walls and electrical. The design of the space and the location of each work was planned weeks previous to arrival in Chicago, with lighting and electrical planned in advance. Some artwork was already delivered to the space. It turned out that some of the walls needed to be re-positioned, and artwork installation worked around those areas. Items such as pedestals, tools, chairs, special lighting, storage shelving, printer, artwork brochures/info, signage, etc and all the necessary components had been packed onto the truck and now must be unpacked and sorted.

John Littleton at work uncrating artwork and preparing the display of many of the works in the booth.

Other galleries are installing artwork – here, Heller Gallery installs Norman Mooney’s cast glass stars. 

Each glass artwork piece is unboxed and carefully installed.

The set-up time is a great time to catch up with other artist friends – Laura Donefer and Tim Tate share a hug.

The Littleton Gallery space is shaping up, pedestals are placed for the Harvey Littleton sculptures.

 The main aisle is busy with galleries preparing their booths.

SOFA Chicago is an international show, here Craft Scotland sets up their display.

The lighting is adjusted on the works, and the packing cleared. Kate Vogel checks for items that need adjustment before the fair opens. Time to shower and change into opening night attire.

Navy Pier just before the opening night gala, the quiet before the storm.

The Opening Night Premier begins with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Lino Tagliapietra is one of the glass greats that cut the opening ceremony ribbon.

The opening night is one to see and be seen. Very posh.

With the opening night premier over, the art expo is open to the public, who fill the hall.

The lectures and demos begin. Corning Museum has a mobile hot-shop that has a number of artists showing.

The art expo offers a great mix of art in all forms of media. For a Flickr gallery of SOFA glass works – click HERE.  For a link to local PBS television video segment on the art at the show – click HERE 

Christina Bothwell mixed media work at Habatat Galleries.

Miriam Di Fiore’s beautiful landscape sculpture.

John Littleton and Kate Vogel’s incredibly detailed cast sculptures.


The SOFA Art Fair ended on the Sunday night at 6:00 pm. With the announcement on the p.a. system that SOFA 2012 has ended, the lights go up and the public leaves the space. The reverse process of de-installation begins. Out come the boxes and crates.


Drew Graham takes a break from packing.

Martin Janecky’s blown glass sculptures in repose.

The unglamourous side of an art expo takes place when one has the least amount of energy. Coffee and energy drinks are needed.

The art expo provides the final meal for the show – Connie’s pizza.


With the show back in the truck and on its way back to Washington, DC, planning for the opening of the Washington Craft Show moves up the list of tasks to be completed. And after, shows at Art Miami/Art Basel. 

Special Glass Exhibit at 25th Washington Craft Show

>A highlight every fall, the 25th Annual Washington Craft Show comes to Washington, D.C.‘s Convention Center November 16-18.

Washington DC Convention Center

This premier showcase of contemporary craft in Americais nationally recognized for presenting masterful work, designed and made in artists’ studios across America. If you’re an avid collector, or you simply appreciate quality and beauty, this is your chance to view and purchase the latest works by nearly 200 of the nation’s top contemporary craft artists. Come meet the people who create the art and hear their stories of inspiration. All weekend there will be additional happenings to enjoy; special exhibitions, artist’s talks and fashion shows. Included with admission to the show:


SPECIAL GLASS EXHIBIT

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of studio art glass, the Washington Craft Show has provided the Maurine Littleton Gallery with an 800 square-foot space to illustrate the history of glass. The exhibit will feature work from Harvey K. Littleton, the founder of the American glass movement, and next generation artists Dale Chihuly, Fritz Dreisbach, Michael Janis, Allegra Marquart, Joel Myers, Ginny Ruffner, Therman Statom, Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers, Sean Hennessey and more. Maurine Littleton is the daughter of Harvey K. Littleton.

“A Life In Glass”

MEET THE AUTHOR

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16 5PM- 8PM & SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17 NOON-3PM

Book signings by art professor and author Joan Falconer Byrd: Harvey K. Littleton: A Life in Glass (Rizzoli, 2012). A member of Harvey Littleton’s first glassblowing class at the University of Wisconsin in 1962, Byrd is the author of numerous essays and articles on glass and ceramics.

On Saturday, Professor Byrd will sign copies of her book following a joint lecture with Maurine Littleton (start time 11a.m.). Book signings both days will take place in the Maurine Littleton Special Exhibit space.

DAILY SCREENINGS OF “A NOT SO STILL LIFE” THE GINNY RUFFNER STORY

Recipient of Golden Space Needle as the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary, Seattle International Film Festival. Seattle artist Ginny Ruffner is best known for a pair of remarkable accomplishments: her well-regarded body of “lampworking” glass art and her miraculous, self-willed recovery from a near-fatal car crash that rendered her unable to walk or talk. These stories and dozens of others are illuminated from the inside in Karen Stanton’s moving and inspiring documentary.

FRIDAY, NOV. 16 – 5PM • SATURDAY, NOV.17 – 5PM • SUNDAY, NOV. 18 – 10 AM

“There’s more to Ruffner’s story than art, glorious as it is: “A Not So Still Life” is also an inspiring tale of rehabilitation and recovery.” ~ Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times. Run time 84 minutes.

WEEKEND LECTURE SERIES

Our Weekend Lecture Series provides unique opportunities for show visitors to hear from leaders in the field of Fine Craft. The lectures are educational, informative and interactive. This year’s lineup includes a gallery owner, author, museum curator, and an artist.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 11 AM

“Contemporary Textile Art – Past, Present, and Future”

Rebecca A.T. Stevens, Consulting Curator, Contemporary Textiles, The Textile Museum

Katy Clune, Communications Manager, The Textile Museum

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 11 AM

“The Life and Work of Harvey K. Littleton”

Maureen Littleton and Joan Falconer Byrd: Moderator: Elizabeth Blair, senior producer NPR (Morning Edition, All Things Considered)

Sean Hennessey “That Worlds Unseen Surround the World We Know

IF YOU GO

Friday, November 16 • 10am-8pm

Saturday, November 17 • 10am-6pm

Sunday, November 18 • 11am-5pm (note: Screening of “A Not So Still Life” will begin at 10am in a room adjacent to the show floor. See box office attendant.)

Tickets $15 / seniors $14 / under 12 free with paid adult

Group discounts for 10 or more: $10 ea.

Friday after 6pm: $6


Washington Convention Center

801 Mt. Vernon Place NW

Washington, DC 20001

Harvey K Littleton Exhibit at Richmond’s VisArts

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In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the historic glass workshops that brought glass out of the factory and into the artist’s studio, Richmond, VA’s Visual Arts Centerwill host an exhibition of work spanning the career of Harvey Littleton, the renowned glass artist widely acknowledged as the father of the American studio glass movement. Littleton began experimenting with hot glass in 1959 and later established the first Studio Glass curriculum at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Prior to Littleton’s 1962 workshops, glass was solely a factory material used to make functional, utilitarian objects. Littleton’s experimental and innovative use of blown glass as a sculptural material transformed glass-making into a viable medium for artistic expression.

Harvey Littleton: A Legacy in Glass is organized in conjunction with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ exhibition of work by Dale Chilhuly, Harvey Littleton’s former student.

This exhibition is presented with support from the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass and the Danwell Foundation.

Visual Arts Center of Richmond
1812 West Main Street, Richmond, VA
Harvey K. Littleton: A Legacy In Glass
November 9, 2012 – January 13, 2013

Come for the Renwick Symposium, Stay For The Glass!

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The Smithsonian Renwick Gallery hosts a symposium held in conjunction with the exhibition 40 under 40: Craft Futures. November 8 and 9, 2012.
This free symposium is open to the public, and no registration is required.This symposium will examine craft’s increasingly urgent role within contemporary American culture.
Coinciding with the fortieth anniversary of the Renwick Gallery as the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s branch museum for contemporary craft and decorative arts, this program seeks to broaden the dialogue surrounding craft’s recent histories, and to articulate rapid changes to the field since the beginning of the current century. Research presented by both senior and emerging scholars will complicate our understanding of modern craft as a response to mass culture, and probe the evolution of the field beyond the studio movement. Themes include: the politics of craft within the museum, new directions in technology and education, craft at war, converging practices in craft and contemporary art, changing aesthetics, craft’s role in industry, and the burgeoning DIY movement. For more information on the symposium – click HERE to jump to the Smithsonian website.

Symposium: Nation Building: Craft and Contemporary American Culture McEvoy Auditorium, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington,DC. – November 8 and 9, 2012 Hey Folks…. If you are coming to DC to participate in the Renwick Craft Symposium with Nicholas Bell on the 8th and 9th of November, we’d love to meet you! Many of you are staying over the weekend, so please join us for donuts and coffee at a Meet and Greet at the Washington Glass School. This is the studio where Tim Tate, Michael Janis and Erwin Timmers and other studio artists work from and is ground zero for the Glass Secessionism movement. We are a 15 minute drive from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Let us know if you need a ride. We can pick folks up and drop them back. There is also tons of parking right in front of the glass studio. We would love to see you there!
What: Meet and Greet for Symposium attendees and friends.
Where: The Washington Glass School 3700 Otis St. Mt. Rainier, Md. 20817 202-744-8222 When: Saturday, November 10th from 10am to 12 noon.

Area Artists Exhibit at SOFA Chicago 2012

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Gateway artists and their work will be amongst crowds at the international  art show SOFA CHICAGO, the annual arts expo devoted to Sculpture Objects and Functional Art (SOFA). Celebrating its 19th year, SOFA CHICAGO is one of the world's foremost contemporary art fairs, featuring nearly 70 art galleries and dealers from 10 countries along with special exhibits by renowned museums, universities and arts organizations, and an extensive lecture series.

Gateway Arts Featured at the SOFA include:

"Unhemmed" Ani Kasten, ceramic, reclaimed wood,  plaster, photo by anythingphoto.net

Ceramic artist Ani Kasten will have her work at Massachusetts’ Lacoste Gallery space (#508). Ani’s ceramic and mixed media work takes their influence from nature as well as the nature of change. 

"Skyline", Ani Kasten, ceramic, reclaimed wood, plaster, photo by anythingphoto.net

Infused with a modern, minimal aesthetic, her - amazingly structured and unstructured at the same time - work references the built world as well as reminding one of a natural or ancient object exposed to the rigors of time.

Glass Artists Allegra Marquart and Michael Janis are both featured at Georgetown’s Maurine Littleton Gallery space (#408).

"Gecko Gets Told" Allegra Marquart, sandcarved fused glass and enamel, photo by anythingphoto.net

Allegra Marquarts’ colorful artwork delights in storytelling and mines fables and fairy tale for both content and imagery. Allegra sandcarves the panels of glass she fuses at the Washington Glass School, working on both sides of the glass slabs, playing with the translucent quality of the medium.

3 separate works - "Flying in Place", "Lessons Learned and Unlearned", "The Optimism of Language", Michael Janis, fused glass imagery, silver and steel, photo by anythingphoto.net

Michael Janis’ glass sculpture works are also at Maurine Littleton Gallery space His new works show how perceptions are based on perspective, where the mirrored glass cylinders refigure the distorted glass frit images into new shapes. 

"Flying in Place" Michael Janis, photo by anythingphoto.net

Both Allegra and Michael work from the Washington Glass School, located in Mount Rainier, MD. 

"21st Century Dadaism", Tim Tate, cast glass, video, electronics, photo by anythingphoto.net
detail "21st Century Dadaism", Tim Tate

Another Washington Glass School artist – Tim Tate – is featured at Michigan’s Habatat Galleries space (#1100). Tim’s incredible mixed media works exploit the beauty of glass and invests it with a narrative that takes the work to a new level. One work – “21st Century Dadaism” incorporates video projection onto cast glass components, with the effect of producing a disembodied human face, created from the disjointed. If Dadaism had occurred today, it might have resembled this. 

"Vegetable Peddler And Her Son", Tim Tate, cast and blown glass, photo by anythingphoto.net

His other sculpture works, from a series he calls his “Cabinet of Curiosities”, incorporate cast glass elements made from the “lost wax” process are a delight in creating surreal worlds. This is a breakout year for Tim, whose work is currently on exhibit at Mesa, Arizona’s Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum.

Tim Tate in front of Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, Mesa, AZ.

SOFA Chicago 2012 - Friday, Nov. 2 through Sunday, Nov. 4; Preview Thursday, Nov 1.

For more info - visit the SOFA Chicago website

SOFA Chicago at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL

Portland Comes to DC

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L-R Audrey Wilson, Amy Ferber, Erwin Timmers, Sean Hennessey

Bullseye Glass Company representative, Amy Ferber pops into the Washington Glass School to check up on what’s happening on the other coast.

Amy approves the clothing choice.

Amy was in town giving demos and talking with many of the Mid Atlantic glass schools and studios. It is always great fun to see her and bring her up to date on what the WGS artists are doing with glass as a sculptural medium.

Amy tries on the glass school gladiator mascot outfit.
Amy likes what she sees.

She gives the big thumbs up approval!