Laurel Library’s Grand Opening Features Public Art Sculpture by Washington Glass Studio

Washington Glass Studio sculpture at the new Laurel Library.

Washington Glass Studio sculpture at the new Laurel Library. Photo by Pete Duvall.

The Washington Glass Studio (WGS) has recently completed installation of a community based site specific public art commission for Prince George’s County Laurel Library. The new building was designed by Grimm + Parker Architects, with the grand opening of the new library scheduled for November 28, 2016. Features of the spectacular new library include an inset floor area in the children’s section where kids will get to peer at a replica velociraptor skeleton through the glass floor. Just a few miles away from the library site is Dinosaur Park, where scientists work to excavate fossils from the early Cretaceous period. Dinosaur imagery was also included as a theme running through the glass artwork panels.

WGS design proposal sketch

WGS design proposal sketch.

WGS was awarded the commission to make the outdoor sculpture at the front of the new library by Maryland’s Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council (PGAHC). The Art in Public Places Program RFQ sought out artwork that would provide world class artwork for Prince George’’s County residents and visitors. 

WGS proposal for the project was a 17′H internally illuminated glass and steel sculpture that incorporates glass panels made by the community,residents and stakeholders of the Laurel, MD community. The engineering of the steel framework involved detailed analysis of the structure and its components. WGS worked with structural engineer Holbert Apple to ensure the integrity of the design.

Detailed analysis of sculpture was part of the design development process.

Detailed analysis of sculpture was part of the design development process.

Over 100 glass inset panels were made during the series of workshops held at the Washington Glass School. The Baltimore Sun newspaper featured a story by reporter Lisa Philip about the process. 

A series of community glass quilting bees were held at the Washington Glass School for the library during the summer.

A series of community glass quilting bees were held at the Washington Glass School for the library during the summer. Photo by Lisa Philip/Baltimore Sun

 

 

The artwork’s title “Involve Me and I Learn”  is based on a phrase attributed to US Founding Father Benjamin Franklin (who also opened the first US public library). The name references the engagement of the community. The neighborhood and the Laurel Library supporters had joined in making the individual glass panels in workshops at the Washington Glass School.Laurel_Library.artists.washington_glass_school.studio.sculpture.public_art.project.american.great.commission.site_specific.fused.jpg

The resulting variations in each tile’s imagery and technique embody the artist’s concept in bringing the people from the diverse community together to create a cohesive and vibrant sculpture. 

 

 

The artwork inset kiln-formed glass panels express the personality and the  individuality of everyone involved in the project.

The artwork’s internally illuminated kiln-formed glass panels express the personality and the individuality of everyone involved in the project. Photo by Pete Duvall

Project  Information

Artist: Washington Glass Studio 

Design Team: Laurie Brown, Michael Janis, Tim Tate, Erwin Timmers, Audrey Wilson. With Josh Hershman and Pierre Browning.

Structural Engineer : Holbert Apple Assoc Inc 

WGS_Laurel Library.MD.aipp.washington_glass_studio.public_art.sculpture.site.specific.sustainable.design.usa.jpg

Photo by Pete Duvall

Laurel Library
507 7th Street, Laurel, MD 20707

Grand Opening / Dedication – 10:30 AM, Monday, November 28, 2016 – All are invited!

Tim Tate Talks About His Current Works

From glass and video sculptor Tim Tate:

Three Current Pieces That Discuss The Transition From Studio Glass To Glass Secessionism

I see my sculptures as self-contained installations. My current work chronicles the transition from the Era of Studio Glass to the new movement of Glass Secessionism.

Blending a traditional craft with new media technology gives me the framework in which I fit my artistic narrative; contemporary, yet with the aesthetic of Victorian techno-fetishism.

To see this chronology, I will discuss 3 of my recent artworks.


Tim Tate “Cowboy Luvin” blown and cast glass, LED lighting.

In Cowboy Luvin’ I reinterpret a millefiori lamp that belonged to my grandmother, though up date its narrative content and technology to LED’s. This was specifically made to show Secessionist roots in early glass.

Tim Tate “Smashing Blue” cast glass, video, electronics.

In the Smashing Blue piece, I use a time-based medium (video) to show a glass vase smashing, yet then reconfiguring again and again. This is intended to show that our definitions in the 20th century ebb and flow towards what is and isn’t glass based, and how we are constantly redefining the present dialog.

Tim Tate “The Next 50 Years Begins Now”, blown and cast glass, video, electronics, engraving

In The Next 50 Years Begins Now a video shows the smashing of a Chihuly-like glass piece, and then reconfiguring over and over. Inside the smaller dome are shards from the original piece. On top of that is a small man holding a large video screen, playing that video. The cast glass finial on top is a bust of Dale Chihuly. The surface of the outer dome has been etched with the history of Dale Chihuly, his importance to the Studio Glass and the artworld, and the text ends with his suing his former assistant for knocking him off.

This piece asks many questions:

Is this real?
   
> A fake?
The culmination of 30 years of work?
   
> Or just glass and 3 hours time?
The beginning of glass secessionism?
   
> Is glass secessionism the right term?
Does this mark the end of technique driven dominance?
   
> Or the beginning of ironic work?

Does breaking this piece add value to it? 
   
> Or does it destroy it?

If this was a cheap knock off, who would be wielding that hammer?
 

Does questioning authority equal disrespect?

Could this be an act of construction, not destruction…just as I intended it to be?


To me, these works are phylacteries of sorts, the transparent reliquaries in which bits of saints’ bones or hair — relics — are displayed. In many cultures and religions, relics are believed to have healing powers. My relics are temporal, sounds and moving images formally enshrined, encapsulating experiences like cultural specimens. And perhaps, to the contemporary soul, they are no less reliquaries than those containing the bones of a saint.
 
With technology rapidly changing the way we perceive art, the current day contemporary landscape closely mirrors Victorian times in the arts. We marvel at and invent bridges between past and present in an effort to define our time and make sense of this highly transitory moment in artistic history. 

Tim Tate

Glass Secessionism

Tim Tate writes about the tenets of “Glass Secessionism”. 

I write this article in an effort to change your thinking about contemporary glass art.  In the following pages, I compare and contrast the changes that 50 years of Studio Glass have produced. My beliefs come from my focus on the artist retreat models, such as Penland, Pilchuck, Corning, Haystack, Etc. This focus was a result of not being in academia. I did not have the resources that would allow me to pursue an MFA. My energies were thrust upon those institutions that catered to working artists. These art retreats were my training ground. 

The evidence supporting my claims comes mostly from my own experiences and observations as a practicing sculptural glass artist, including 10 years showing only in sculptural fine art settings and then crossing over to the glass gallery world. At this point, I straddle the line between these worlds. Half the galleries that represent my work are glass galleries, half are fineart galleries.  

 

My premise is that to succeed in glass in the 21stcentury, we have to secede from 20th Century founded Studio Glass. The Studio Glass model was firmly in place. It was time to integrate into the Fine Art World. What we needed was a bridge between these two worlds, to assist in this transition which was coming so very quickly.

“Glass Secessionism” is firmly rooted in the historical precedent of Photo Secession, and that movement provides a template for organizing our nascent movement. Like the Photo Secession, we are moving away from the technique-dominated culture of studio glass. We respect good technique, and understand its importance in creating great art from glass. However, we believe that great art should be driven primarily by artistic vision, and technique should facilitate the vision. For too long, technique has driven the majority of studio glass. As Secessionists we do not seek to isolate ourselves from other artists working in glass, but to enhance the field as a whole.

Glass Secessionism”, a Facebook page, was created to be an accessible venue for the showing, discussion and definition of secessionist works. Works that are based in mixed media and time base electronics for example. Its objective is to advance glass as applied to sculptural expression; to draw together those glass artists practicing or otherwise interested in the arts, and to discuss specific examples of the Glass-Secession or other narrative work.  

As I’ve said, this movement is modeled after Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secessionists and how they redefined photography.

Though they may seem incomparable, there are distinct similarities between Photo-secessionism and Glass Secessionism.  Both mediums emerged from the lab/factory with high technical barriers inherent in the materials. We applauded the genius required to make something from the chemistry/fire/darkrooms/furnaces/ environment, and some of the early pioneers had a vested interest in keeping secrets and making adaptation by artists difficult. Both mediums were born of science and industry, and both had similar paths of evolution as a result.

In 1902 Stieglitz announced the existence of a new organization called the Photo-Secession, a group dedicated to promoting photography as an art form. The name of the group suggested that it was designed to break away from stodgy and conventional ideas.

In many ways, I agree with Stieglitz’s deeply critical view of what he understood to be the rampant conventionality, conformity, and institutionalization of the photography field  in the early 20th century.  It was said that Steigletz wanted to secede from “artwork that had gone stale through the copying of Victorian, conventional styles, but more importantly from the dictatorship of the entrenched institutions, galleries, art schools and professional art organizations that enforced or at very least sanctioned copying or imitation.” In my perhaps isolated world this seemed to hold great similarity to what I saw happening in glass in the beginning of the 21stcentury. I saw it, but those artists still involved heavily in that aesthetic seemed not to.
 
The modern history of glass is unfolding before our eyes. Before glass became more accessible in this country, you usually had to work in a glass production factory to have contact with glass. Slowly, in the 60′s and 70′s, schools and individuals started to proliferate and glass began to emerge to a larger population to experiment with. In those early days, American glass artists seemed to have an insecurity regarding our place in the glass world, so there was a huge focus on Venetian blowing techniques. This focus was perhaps more in the artists retreats than MFA programs, which produced many exceptions. RISD seemed to lead the way in idea driven glass, but most people did not learn glass from the MFA programs. Glass Secessionism seems to be driven not just by MFA programs but from younger artists looking for a voice of their own, not connected to a distinct glass history. I believe most learned in small studios and artists retreats, just as I did. 
 
As more people got exposed to glass, things began to progress. By the 80′s and the early 90′s we not only became as good in technique as the Venetians, it seemed we frequently surpassed them. There were some amazing stand-out artists who had mastered technique, then took that technique and developed compelling narrative sculptural work. There were far more who focused on perfecting that technique in the Venetian tradition and focused primarily on vessels and the indirect narrative implied within the material. This is a viable and valuable path, if that was your interest and hot glass was readily available to you. The closest hot glass available outside of academia to me was Penland School of Crafts. Accordingly, during this same time period, schools like Pilchuck and Penland mostly focused on teaching hot glass classes and techniques, as it is much less concrete to teach ideas.
However, many began to push the reigning concepts and methods further.  In many MFA programs the insecurity of exploration was gone, replaced by a desire to take glass further—to not be the second best goblet maker, as so many had in the previous period of Venetian technical hegemony. 
 

Garth Clark at the 2008 lecture.

 
The person who made the most sense to me was Garth Clark. In his now infamous 2008 lecture at the Portland Museum of Contemporary Craft, he finally voiced what I had felt for sometime: that the arts and craft movement, having reigned for 150 years, died forever in the mid 1990′s. It died of “art envy.” No one wanted to be a craftsman anymore…everyone wanted to be an artist.Add to this the fact that in the 1990′s collectors and galleries remained tied to a type, price point, and aesthetic.

Catalog of “Compelled by Content” exhibition.

 
 By 2005, there was a small but intellectually and aesthetically exciting group of artists producing narrative work, many of it showcased in a show I curated entitled, “Compelled by Content.”  This conceptually derived focus seems to be a central part of what I term “Glass Secessionism.” I define this as ideas and concepts that exist autonomously from their own materiality. There were a few magnificent examples of newer artists using narrative. (narrative artists such as Christina Bothwell, Michael Rogers, Carmen Lozar, De La Torre Brothers, Susan Taylor Glasgow, etc). These were the types of artists I looked up to. Even within artist retreat venues, these artists were a minority and rare. But at least I felt there were others like me. 
 

Glass artists began to move out of their disciplinary confines and began draw from multiple media and disciplines.  One group that also seceded was the Hyperopia Projects. They summed this movement up by writing that, “…we do not fit comfortably into glass, sculpture or new media, but draw from allof them. Our interests and practices are between disciplines and media. We seek to support a longer view of where glass is headed—where the identity of glass may be intermingled with the larger world of contemporary art.Our efforts are also a direct call to action for our peers to continue paving this path—dissolving and redrawing our boundaries along the way”. Many artists around the country were coming to this same realization. There had certainly been other attempts to find a model out of Studio Glass.

By the 21st century, warm glass and kiln forming had found its following. Formerly frequently dismissed as the art form of non-serious hobbyists, many great narrative sculptors were emerging. 

These days in MFA programs around the country, you are  unlikely to find a technique driven glass artist…..if you can even find anyone who still calls themselves a glass artist. Mixed media, conceptual and performance dominate those artists, and also dominate many private schools such as ours….and certainly other private artists as well.

The problems began when I tried to exhibit work, and it wasn’t just glass galleries.
I would knock on doors of fine art galleries and museums at the time, to show them my work. They all said similar things. The work is great, but its glass. The Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum even had a curator that had a “no glass” policy. They would continually send me back to the glass galleries, who would sayYou can have the most spectacular work of glass ever made, but if you don’t have a reputation, my collectors won’t buy it.” (an actual quote).  I was caught in a difficult place, as many 21stglass sculptors were. Fine art galleries were frequently not showing glass; and glass galleries were frequently not showing emerging glass sculptors. 
 
What was an artist supposed to do? When I mentioned my frustration to Paul Parkman, a noted glass enthusiast and founder of many glass organizations, he said, “Well… if they are not noticing your work, do something they can’t ignore”. This became my mantra. As Bill T Jonesonce said; “Art is what is made when you push back.” The artists who originally founded Studio Glass pushed back in their time. Now it was my turn. I believed that for glass to be taken seriously in the broader fine art world, then we had to secede. Only by seceding would we succeed. If the glass world wasn’t going to recognize us, then what choice did we have?
 
There are a number of facets of the glass world I purposefully seceded from:
 
·        A technique driven glass world. A vessel-centric dialogue.
 
·        The dominance of 40 artists who began studio glass, but frequently stagnated into replication or were knocked off so frequently that it was hard to tell the knock off from the original. I was in awe of many of these magnificent artists, but also saw many great artists who received little or no recognition.
 
·        The continual tedious discussion of the faulty “art vs craft” binary. 
 
·        To yet another magazine cover of the same glass artists again and again. (not that they didn’t deserve them…I just felt that others did as well). The predictability of who I would see inside, who would curate, show, and applaud the art. To see yet another variation of a select few artists work and their view of the world.
 
·        From the way glass was discussed, thought about, collected, made, exhibited, and seen around the world.
 
·        From the absence of 21st century technologies, including  video, electronics, digital art and time based media and art forms .
        
One of the major reasons I seceded was to embrace, mentor, and nurture younger artists breaking new ground.  I understand this to be encouraging new directions of glass outside the traditional craft world.  To embrace what I saw beginning to happen with so many younger and perhaps unrecognized artists; that they were not taken as seriously as the established artists.
 
This has been taken as disrespect. Nothing could be further from the truth. I grew up as an artist in that glass world. I have nothing but respect and admiration for those amazing artists who founded the Studio Glass movement. We all stand upon their shoulders.
 
In this country, collectors seemed to drive the movement. When an artist came up with a form that some people liked, the collector consciousness wanted them. An artist was frequently in a position that if they wanted to economically succeed, he or she had to replicate a particular form with subtle variations over and over. Collectors and the institutions that controlled the studio glass movement unconsciously stifled artistic exploration and creativity while also encouraging other aspects. So different from the glass artists in other countries.
 
If the economics of Studio Glass had not taken over, I believe even the great founders would have experimented more themselves. Would Toots Zynsky have made variations of the same bowl form for so many decades? After seeing her RISD work from 40 years ago, I doubt it. I mean no disrespect towards Toots.  I love her work and am just using this as an example to make what I believe to be a salient point.  However, such a contention is often interpreted as disrespect.  Does daring to question the established base automatically imply disrespect? 

L-R: Toots Zynsky, 1990; Toots Zynsky 2010

 
It should be kept remembered that the founders of studio were certainly secessionists in their own times and in their own right.
 
Does this mean that we no longer value Studio Glass or Post Studio Glass (work that builds on the techniques and aesthetics of 20thcentury vessels)? Not at all. There will always be a place for these wondrous objects and their makers. I am suggesting that they will not figure as prominently in the 21st century as in the 20th century. I know this makes people very angry. That is certainly not my intent.  I am merely trying to map the landscape of shifts that characterize the contemporary post-modern glass world.  As more shifts occur, the less likely it will be that our current Studio Glass and Post-Studio Glass frames of reference will maintain the authority they still have in the current period. 
 
By the 2000’s the preponderance of work within those venues shifted, until there was now much more secessionist type work than vessel-related or technique-driven work.  This shift was perhaps led by the MFA programs, but embraced by younger artists in every setting.  There you would be hard pressed to find anyone working in vessel forms or willing to call themselves a glass artist. Perhaps this new type of self-identity was the cause. A new identity began to appear—or rather, the old identity of “glass artist”  began to erode.  The new identity took on an anti-identity facet—it refused to be pinned down by schools or mediums or forms.  I believe this is a part of the secessionist movement.
 
So, 
What are the boundaries of Glass Secessionism?

·        It is not studio glass, though there were many roots and seeds of this movement found in studio glass.

·        Glass tends to be only one component in a mixed media sculpture.

·        It is not in the form of a vessel.

·        Time-based media involving glass will become more and more important as technology continues to progress. Time based media such as sound, video, performance. As electronics improve and become readily available, including software development, this glass art form will flourish.

·        Large-scale conceptual installations.  These conceptual installations will also gain prominence in the museum world. The production of space—rather than the mere filling of it or accommodation to it—is a distinctive conceptual shift from the Glass Studio period.

·        It tends to start with an idea or concept rather than perfecting or exploring a technique.

·        Is not in the form of abstract expressionism.

·        Glass Secessionism reconfigures performance.

Performance art in the Studio Glass era was about the drama of the artist making work in the studio. Performance art in the  Secessionist era usually starts with an idea other than the making of an object. This will be one of the fastest growing areas of Glass Ssecessionism; mostly due to fact that advances in video technology and social media allows for almost instant records of performance to be shared, distributed and discussed. 

·       Glass Secessionism takes place within, and often actively supports, the increasing erosion of the ownership of art, according to William Warmus on this topic. Objects were made to be exhibited and collected in the studio glass era. In the Secessionist era, while there will still be a love of well made objects, some objects will be considered the property of the collective culture. They will be reproduced digitally, shared, float around, come together as an exhibition or collection, split apart. This will challenge the artist as to how to make a living, and museums will have to reconsider the idea of ownership. This is not just in the glass world, but in the art world as a whole. This will be particularly true of performance.

·        Architecture is increasingly an important component of secessionism.  However, the technical expertise and expert knowledge it requires will make collecting it, or even talking about it, will remain problematic and awkward. For example, most people do not know how to read floor plans.  In this way, secessionism has an internal contradiction: while it becomes increasingly accessible in many other ways, it also assumes sculptural and architectural elements which require certain types of technical knowledge and skill. Another point made by William Warmus.

·        It tends to include a focus on narrative.  I define narrative as ideas and concepts that exist autonomously from their own materiality.

Where are we going? Let me suggest museum and gallery shows that would fit squarely into the 21stCentury and embrace the aesthetics of Glass Secessionism.

Museum shows :

Figurative Glass Dialogs in the 21st Century:

Sybylle Perretti

Judith Schaechter

Daniel Arsham

Angela Palmer

Also,

Embracing Glass and New Media:

Tony Oursler

Wang Yuyang

Clark DeCapite Jr.

Gabe Barcia-Colombo

Wayne Garrett

Antony Gormley

In the next few years, a Secessionist gallery will emerge. Who will they carry? I am suggesting this stable of artists:

Mark Zirpel

Christina Bothwell

Michael Rogers

Rik Allen

Susan Taylor Glasgow

Michael Janis

Oben Albright

Ivan Puig

Jeff Ballard

Jeffrey Sarmiento

Carmen Lozar

Jeremy Lepisto

Charlotte Potter

Kohei Nawa

Andy Paiko

Micah Evans

Seth Fairweather

Christopher McElroy

Susan Silver Brown

Joshua Hershman

Jeff Zimmer

Jason Chakravarty

Right now secessionist sculptors are spread over many venues, galleries and fairs. So collectors seeking this type of work are just as scattered. When a gallery of this type opens, it will crystallize this collector base as well.  The gallery will become known for secessionist work and will be ground zero for collectors to check first.  Museums will begin having secession shows. Glass will also slowly be absorbed into the fine art fairs such as the Art Basel Miami sub fairs such as Art Miami and Miami Projects. The names above will be the stars of such a movement. There are so many others ….please forgive me if I had not gotten to you. I would love to hear of other examples of Secessionist shows.

With all of these thoughts in my head, I founded the Washington Glass School in 2001. The school is firmly based in the tenets of Glass Secessionism. One of the reasons so many glass artists who have graduated from this school feel that they have seceded from nothing is because I founded that school.  They did not have to secede from anything because I already had. I presented the school, classes and students to the way that I saw the glass world. They frequently knew no other way. 
 
Today very few folks will stand up as self-described secessionists, partly because we are still involved in the glass world.  At a deeper level, this dis-identification from any established identity is, in itself, a facet of secessionism.  For me, while I certainly seceded in the 90′s to show only in fine art galleries, I was called back to the glass world in the 2000’s. I did not expect this to happen.  A widely respected curator told a group of collectors that I represented the “future” of glass resulting in a prominent glass gallery owner asking to carry my work. I was completely star struck, having grown up in the glass world. To be a true secessionist I would have said “no” to both parties and stayed in my fine art world. However, I had become well placed to make the decision to become the “missing link”—to bridge both worlds simultaneously. I have done that ever since. 
 
Two significant factors in this decision were economics and ego, I freely admit.  Nonetheless, my work always differed from what I perceived as the dominance of technique-driven work. These were my perceptions, based on years of my own experiences. But what else can an artist react to? I would have been a much “purer” secessionist if I also rejected the glass gallery system as well. I did not. I was still in awe of it, as I am to this day. My rebellion came in the form of what I was making and working on and a conscious distancing away from the vessels that even I had made in the past.
Much of this paper was derived from comments made on the Glass Secessionism Facebook page – in particular from quotes or comments made by William Warmus, Patrick Blythe and Jennifer Scanlan.
 
Glass Secessionism does not mark the death of Studio Glass. It makes it stronger.  It enhances it as it takes prominence. It gives credit to those who went before.  Honoring the early founders and utilizing all that was learned from that is still the foundation of this movement. But honoring does not excuse an art form from getting hackneyed and complacent. The solution was to secede from just those forms that had become stale by repetition; that is the part of Studio Glass we are pulling away from. In many ways, Glass Secessionism is putting glass back on the path it should have followed. It encourages those areas of glass that had progressed over time and build heavily upon them. It reveres those artists who advance the medium, taking chances with new directions. In other words, we are not destroying the past, we are constructing a future.
 
Tim Tate

US/UK Collaborative Art Precedents : Glass 3 and Artomatic

As the arrangements for the UK artists are being finalized, the Washington Glass School blog takes a look back to the first two collaborative exhibitions and their outcome.

GLASS 3__________________________
In 2008, Artomatic organized an exhibit that showcased glass art, focusing on how three “glass” cities approach the medium. The collaborative show was titled “Glass 3″ referencing the invited glass centers of Washington, DC, Toledo, Ohio and Sunderland, England. 

  • Sunderland is home to the UK’s National Glass Centre at the University of Sunderland. The North East of England has a long tradition of glassmaking – since the 7th century as glassmakers from France were brought in to make the stained glass windows. The numerous glass factories of the 17th and 18th century have now closed, and in its place a number of studio glass artists working in smaller studios. 
  • Toledo, Ohio is known as “Glass City” – where in 1962, Harvey Littleton and Dominick Labino presented the seminal glass workshop with the Toledo Museum of Art. This workshop profoundly influenced the American Studio Glass Movement. 
  • Washington, DC glass artists work at using glass as an expressive component in a larger whole, mastering technique in order to express content. The “post-craft” artists strive to make works that transcend words and discrete disciplines – therein lies their beauty.
Design of the Glass 3 exhibit graphics and catalog by Jon Gann.

Artomatic had secured an exhibition space in the Georgetown Mall, and in February, artwork and artists from the UK and Ohio came into DC setting up the multi-level space. 

2008 “Glass 3″ Exhibit. Photo by Tracy Lee.
2008 “Glass 3″ Exhibit. Photo by Tracy Lee.
Artist Vanessa Cutler (R) talks about the UK artwork with Sunderland City Council’s Anne Tye (C) and DCist’s Heather Goss (L) on opening night.

DCist city blog writer Heather Goss wrote of the 2008 collaborative show “Glass 3″:
“But does all of this lovey-dovey, hands-around-the-world stuff translate into a good art show? In this case, definitely. Glass work has always faced a tough challenge being accepted as “fine art” and not “a bunch of bowls and vases you find at the craft fair.” And if anyone can make you change your mind, its the artists from Sunderland. Some of the artists are actually experts in glass theory with Ph.Ds and have developed techniques that not only create beautiful art, but have revolutionized architecture and other uses for the medium.”
Click HERE to jump to full DCist article.

A catalog of the works in the show was published, a copy is in the Corning Museum of Glass’ Rakow Library.

Click HERE to jump to the Glass 3 catalog pdf.
The Brits returned charged up with the success of the interaction with the Americans, and based on the Washington Glass School model, created a not-for-profit artist run studio facility in Sunderland; Creative Cohesion. The new organization is home to professional artists working in glass, ceramics, fine art and mixed media, with a gallery, arts workshops and a glass hot-shop.

UK’s Stephen Reveley’s fused glass forms at 2009 Artomatic.

Artomatic 2009__________________________ 
In 2009, Artomatic held the 10th anniversary of its unjuried art fair in DC’s Southeast, near the Navy Yard. 38 artists from the UK were able to participate in the event via Creative Cohesion joining with Artomatic in the planning of the exchange.  A number of the visiting artists were part of the University of Sunderland and the UK’s National Glass Centre and held workshops where they demonstrated their techniques.

UK glass casting workshop by Stephen Beardsell held at Washington Glass School, May 2009.
Sarah Blood’s neon artwork at Artomatic.

The Artomatic was a great success, and the visiting artists were able to connect to the US artscene. Glass artist Phil Vickery’s artwork was selected by the James Renwick Alliance to receive their Craft Award of Distinction.

Award winning glass by Phil Vickery.
2009 UK / US Artomatic artist reception

The connection between the sister city artists had been strengthened, and Professor Peter Fidler, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland was impressed with the artists at Washington Glass School, and sought out ways to continue the interaction.

Later, after Tim Tate and Michael Janis were successful Fulbright Scholar candidates, the connection to the University of Sunderland continued; in 2012, they both were Fulbright Scholars at the University and held workshops at Creative Cohesion. 

The Brits are back this year, and the exhibit has broadened to include ceramic artwork. To complement the artwork, International Glass and Clay 2013 will host panels at Pepco Edison Place Gallery all month long meant to inspire in depth conversation about cultural diplomacy, Fulbright exchanges and international artists residencies and the arts. The events will include representatives from cultural institutions in the nation’s capital, including embassies, government entities, think tanks and local arts organizations.

“This year, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities launched a program encouraging District artists and arts organizations to develop cultural partnerships with our sister cities, which we are proud to implement,” said Lionell Thomas, Executive Director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. “International Glass and Clay 2013 is an excellent example of how cities with differing cultures can approach diplomacy through their respective creative heritage.”

International Glass and Clay2013 will open from Friday, March 1 to Friday, March 22. It is free for the public to attend. At Pepco Edison Place Gallery, 702 Eighth Street (between G and H Street). Gallery hours are 12 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Tuesdays, and 12 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The gallery is closed on Sundays and Mondays. The Gallery Place Metro station servicing the green, red and yellow lines is within close walking distance to the gallery.

Has Tim Tate Gone MAD?!

>

Well, yes, but Tim’s feeling much better…Playing With Fire @ NY MAD Museum

Tim Tate, “I Want To Run Away and Join the Circus“, 2009, blown and cast glass, electronic components. Photo: Anything Photographic.

This year, New York’s Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) celebrates the 50th anniversary of the American Studio Glass movement with an exhibit titled “Playing with Fire: 50 Years of Contemporary Glass”  – which featured more than 100 works of glass from the MAD collection,  and additional contemporary works on loan.  Ever since 1962, when a legendary workshop led by renowned glass artist Harvey Littleton demonstrated the potential of glassblowing as a medium available to individual artists, artists and designers have continually pushed the material in new directions and used the complex, fragile, and highly versatile nature of the material to create an astonishing diversity of works.

“Playing with Fire” looks at the breadth of innovative processes and artistry in contemporary glass, from pieces by early adaptors such as Dale Chihuly to installations by Israeli designer Ayala Serfaty. The exhibit is organized by the Museum of Arts and Design and is curated by Jennifer Scanlan, Associate Curator. “As a sculptural material, glass has unique properties: its ability to hold, emit and reflect light renders color more brilliant and animates figures and forms,”says Jennifer Scanlan. “In ‘Playing With Fire,’ we wanted to show how artists and designers play with the properties of this fluid medium — often in extraordinary, and sometimes unexpected ways.”

The exhibition is made possible, in part, by the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass. 

Playing with Fire: 50 Years of Contemporary Glass.

November 6, 2012 thru April 7, 2013

Museum of Arts & Design

2 Columbus Circle 

New York, NY 10019

 

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. 

S.O.F.A. Chicago Art Fair 2012 Features Studio Glass

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SOFA CHICAGO From Technique to Artistic Expression

The critically acclaimed international art fair SOFACHICAGO returns to historic Navy Pier Friday, Nov 2 through Sunday, Nov 4, 2012, with an Opening Night Preview on Thursday, Nov 1.  The exhibition features masterworks of contemporary and modern arts and design, sculpture, functional art, and visionary art, plus related special exhibitions and lecture series. SOFA CHICAGO promises to be the world hot spot for international studio glass art. The American Studio Glass Movement is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year and the acclaimed art and design fair at Navy Pier will be center-stage. New this year, iPhone and iPad users can use the free SOFA FAIR App to browse the works on display at the show and identify works or contact galleries, simply by pointing their phone at artworks and adding them or instantly receiving information about that work. To download the SOFA FAIR App visit sofaexpo.com.

Harvey Littleton,
Yellow Crown II, 1984, glass

From the SOFA CHICAGO 2012 website: Art “dealer Maurine Littleton of Maurine LittletonGallery (Washington, D.C.), daughter of Harvey Littleton reports that half her booth space (#408) will feature “a selection of rarely seen (and first-time offered) pieces” by her father, including a “spectacular example” from his signature Arc series entitled Yellow Crown II (1984), direct from its exhibition at the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wis. Littleton says it is the only one of its type still available; similar works can be found at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery of the American Art Museum and in major national public and private art collections.”
Michael Janis, Eclipse, 2012, glass powder imagery

Works by Michael Janis and Allegra Marquart will be amongst the artists featured in the other half. 
Allegra Marquart, Monkey Girl, 2012, glass

Tim Tate will be featured in Habatat Galleries space (#1200) – which has expanded their SOFA booth to accommodate 18 solo exhibitions!

Tim Tate,
The Deconstruction Of George Melies,2012, Cast and Blown Glass, Video

Additionally, the Robert M. Minkoff Foundation will screen their new documentary, The Toledo Workshop Revisited, 1962-2012. In a March 2012 residency, three young artists at the Toledo Museum of Art rebuilt a small glass furnace modeled after the one Harvey Littleton and Dominick Labino designed 50 years earlier. 

The 1962 workshop launched the Studio Glass Movement, and made it possible for individual artists to work directly with glass. This new film documents the week-long residency that honors the past and celebrates the future of creative experimentation in glass. Screenings will be followed by Q&A with Robert Minkoff, Managing Trustee of the Robert M. Minkoff Foundation; Andrew Page, Director of the Robert M. Minkoff Foundation.

SOFA Chicago 2012
Nov 1 - 4, 2012
Festival Hall, Navy Pier

600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60611

Blue Spiral 1 Gallery Looks to Studio Glass’ Future

>North Carolina’s Asheville was named one of AmericanStyle magazine’s “Top 25 Arts Destinations” . This week, another of its top galleries – this time Blue Spiral 1 – opens a show that looks to honor the 50th Anniversary of the American Studio Glass Movement.

WGS is well represented in the list of artists!

Blue Spiral has curated the show with an eye to the future of glass with “compelling sculpture [that] speaks to conceptual and narrative directions the medium takes in the 21st Century”.


Artists include a number from the Washington Glass School extended family – Tim Tate, Sean Hennessey, Michael Janis, Marc Petrovic, Christina Bothwell and Susan Taylor Glasgow.


With Erwin Timmers’ work showing at nearby Bender Gallery – its like a Washington Glass School summer camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains!


Glass Secessionism
June 7 – July 26, 2012
Opening Reception, June 7, 5-8 pm
Blue Spiral 1 Gallery
38 Biltmore Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801

Kiln-formed Glass & The American Studio Glass Movement – A Parallel History

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Part 1 The Glass Pioneers

Frances Stewart Higgins

fused crushed glass and enamel vessel, 1958-1959.

2012 marks the 50th Anniversary of the American Studio Glass Movement, and its celebration will be marked with many events and exhibitions. The focus of the anniversary celebrations will mainly be on hot-glass and taking glass making from the factory to the artist’s studio, using the 1962 Toledo glass workshop as the birth date.


Toledo glass workshop in the spring of 1962

As the Washington Glass School features kiln-formed glass, we wanted to join the celebration by outlining the parallel and often co-dependent history of the kiln-formed glass section of the movement (aka warm glass, or fused glass). This series of postings – often based directly on writings by glass artists Richard LaLonde, Boyce Lundstrom, Dan Schwoerer, Bert Weiss and Corning Museum of Glass’ history information online. It also strongly references Martha Drexler Lynn’s seminal study “American Studio Glass 1960-1990. Thanks also to Chip Montague and Betty Py for sourcing images and backgrounds on the featured artists.
Shifts in art practice after WW2 opened the door for materials not previously considered.The popular story about the origins of the American studio glass movement casts Harvey Littleton as its Prometheus. Littleton and his teaching had a significant effect on the evolution of studio glass. His work, and that of his students and their followers built a basis for the current glass art scene. While

Littleton’s passion for hot glass originally led him to define “studio glass” to that blown or worked in a hot-glass studio – his later works included kilnformed plate glass and printing on glass plates, a new concept that he called vitreography.

Horizontal/Vertical, 1974. Harvey Littleton. Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, Wisconsin

Early Fused Glass

While the precise origins of glass fusing techniques are not known with certainty, there is archeological evidence that the Egyptians were familiar with basic techniques. Some historians argue that the earliest fusing techniques were first developed by the Romans, who were much more prolific glassworkers. Fusing was the primary method of making small glass objects for approximately 2,000 years, until the development of the glass blowpipe largely replaced fusing due to its greater efficiency and utility.


Vase, 1923.François Emile Décorchemont. pâte de verre

Two government actions helped to propel crafts to greater acceptance in the 1930s and 1940s, the Works Projects Administration Federal Arts Project (later WPA) created employment for the approximately five thousand artists and craftsmen. Another consequence of the war that contributed to the emergence of studio glass was that as returning veterans’ formed new families, they required housing and furnishings. This fostered a trend toward mass-produced anonymous objects. Handcrafted items, in contrast, were refreshing and capable of expressing individuality. Crafts were seen as an antidote to the suburban Levittown and as a means to creating a sense of individuality in the new American suburban tract house.

Sept/Oct 1959 issue of Craft Horizons Magazine. The cover shows images from the 1959 Corning International Contemporary Glass Exhibition. The magazine changed its name in 1979 to American Craft.

In the late 1940’s and 50’s glass pioneers set up studios to experiment, and made functional household objects like plates, bowls, jewelry and the occasional art object or hanging mobile. Their success often came from the transfer of ceramic and other craft techniques to glass. These artists fused enamels that were created for metal enameling on and in between pieces of window glass in electric brick kilns used for ceramics.

Glass Artists of the Post War Era – an outline of a few of the pioneers:

Maurice Heaton, a designer of stained glass, became adept at slumping flat sheets of hot glass into or over a mold to form vessel shapes. Born in London, he was the son of an Arts and Crafts cloisonné enameller and the grandson of a stained-glass maker. He moved to New York in 1914. His work is characterized by detailed, linear patterns created by fusing crushed, brightly colored enamels onto the surface of the glass.

Africa, 1948. Maurice Heaton

Kilnformed glass, powdered glass, enamel.Corning Museum of Glass

Fish Platter, 1940′s. Maurice Heaton

Kilnformed glass, powdered glass, enamel.
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Michael and Francis Higgins in the 1950′s

Michael and Francis Higgins’ were a husband-and-wife team who produced commercial tableware for Dearborn Glass.Both studied at the Chicago Institute of Design. The couple individually created unique hinged boxes, mobiles, flat panels and vessel forms that were distinguished by bold geometric patterns and innovative techniques that retain their freshness with their delicate designs.

Vessel, 1958-1959 Frances Stewart Higginsfused crushed glass and enamel. Corning Museum of Glass

plate, 1960′s Michael & Frances Higginskiln-formed glass
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Edris Eckhardt, a well known Cleveland School artist, is recognized for her virtuosity in ceramics, enamels, and glass work, invented her own glass formulas to create her sculpture. She may have been the first American studio glass artist to formulate her own batch instead of simply melting cullet. Eckhardt changed her first name to Edris, after a genderless angel, after being declined for an art school scholarship based solely on her gender.


Archangel, 1956. Erdis Eckhardt
cast glass. Corning Museum of Glass


Uriel, 1968. Erdis Eckhardt
cast glass. Corning Museum of Glass

This year, the Museum of American Glass at WheatonArts has the above artists featured in an exhibit titled “Pioneers of American Studio Glass“, now thru 12/30/2012.

Early Writing About Studio Glass
For the glass practitioner, collector or scholar, there were few published information sources were available, beyond meeting the artist in person. Teaching about glassmaking – or “glass technology” would, at best be taught in a school’s manual arts curriculum or as a hobby. First published in 1942, the craft magazine Craft Horizons provided limited information about glass techniques, but typical of the focus on the arts, it had three times more information about other craft media as on glass. The magazine later became American Craft in 1979 and was redesigned with an expanded awareness of studio glass.


1944 Craft Horizons and 2012 American Craft Magazine


Early books about glass offered technical advice, a general history of glass, or the occasional survey of contemporary work. Information about glass was available only in industrial manuals, amongst them “The Art of Glassmaking” (1947) by Sydney Waugh, a designer for Corning Glass. Waugh’s book included declarations that glass could only be made in large factories.
California artist Kay Kinney studied glazes and ceramics and later experimented with glass in the early 1960′s. Kinney’s book “Glass Craft: Designing, Forming, Decoration” (1962) was written long before the “fusing-compatible” era. Her book has information about mold-making, fusing and slumping projects utilizing window glass, bottles, and other types of glass.


Kinney’s book was written for glass novices, with simple, straightforward instructions on cutting and fusing.

The Toledo Workshops were indeed a watershed. After the workshops, glassmaking programs entered the college, university and fine arts programs. Other venues for glass study began opening up, and established regional craft centers like Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Penland School of Craft had more intensive learning opportunities. By 1973, glass programs had penetrated the university and craft world to the extent that Glass Art Magazine listed seventy educational programs. This expansion had a profound effect on the establishment of the critical mass of artists devoted to learning about, producing, and promoting studio made glass. Additionally, the G.I. Bill, started in the 1940′s, had a strong effect on the lives if the returning veterans. That bill, (as did the later, similar Veterans Acts under the Johnson, Nixon and the Ford Administrations) through the mid 1970′s – offered veterans a college scholarship to any college of their choice. As it turned out, art school was very attractive and glass blowing extremely attractive. There were glass programs across the country. By the time the GI Bill was gone, so were the glass programs.

Click HERE to jump to Part 2 Exploring Technique and Content – the ’60′s, ’70′s & ’80′s