Chihuly’s "Red Reeds" Acquired by VMFA

“Red Reeds” by Chihuly. The work is the first site-specific outdoor installation by the artist to be acquired by an art museum.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) board of trustees has voted to acquire the work Red Reeds, by Dale Chihuly which was created for the museum’s Anne Cobb Gottwald reflecting pool. The artist created more than 100 red glass reeds as part of the Chihuly at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts exhibition, October 20, 2012- February 10, 2013. Since that time, Red Reeds has been on loan to VMFA.
This dynamic, site-specific work by Dale Chihuly was an instant success at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,” said Alex Nyerges, director.”It is beautiful in every season, and is a wonderful addition to the Lora Robins Sculpture Garden. I am especially pleased that this is the first site-specific outdoor installation by Chihuly to be acquired by an art museum.”
Red Reeds was purchased with private funds from the Arthur and Margaret Glasgow fund. Private funds are always used for art acquisition, but upon purchase the work becomes the property of the Commonwealth of Virginia for its ongoing care.
The reeds were blown by team Chihuly at the Nuutäjarvi Glass Factory in Nuutäjarvi, Finland because of the excellent clarity of glass there and to take advantage of their annealing ovens, the largest in the world. The annealing process facilitates the curing of these large-scaled elements, which are as much as 10 feet in height. Also, the red glass in Finland has a particularly brilliant quality, due to the ruby red pigment and the added chemical element neodymium.

About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts VMFA’s permanent collection encompasses more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. Its collections of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, English silver, Fabergé, and the art of South Asia are among the finest in the nation. VMFA’s Statewide Partnership program includes traveling exhibitions, artist and teacher workshops, and lectures across the Commonwealth. VMFA is open 365 days a year and general admission is always free. For additional information, visit www.vmfa.museum.

In Memoriam: Harvey K Littleton

We mourn the passing of the “Father” of the American Studio Glass Movement, without whom none of us glass artists would be where we are now.

Harvey K. Littleton (1922-2013) was the seminal glass artist whose work ranged from functional vessels to sculptural forms. His father was a physicist at Corning Glass Works providing him early exposure to glass in the factories. Trained as a ceramicist, he began experimenting with hot glass in his studio in the 1950′s. Through two landmark workshops and by establishing the first Studio Glass curriculum at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he helped to bring glass out of the factory and into the artists’ studio. Harvey died on December 13, 2013, at his home in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, at the age of 91. A letter circulated by his family states that his death came “after a long decline.” A private celebration of his life, and that of his wife, Bess, who died in October 2009, will be held by the family on January 11th.

He attended Brighton School of Art in England, received his Bachelors of Design at the University of Michigan, and received his M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy of Art.


Harvey Littleton, left, with student Dale Chihuly, right, in 1974. Photo courtesy of Chihuly Inc.

In his role as an educator, Harvey was an “…outspoken and eloquent advocate of university education in the arts.”  He organized the first hot glass program at an American university (the University of Wisconsin–Madison) and promoted the idea of glass as a course of study in university art departments in the Midwest and northeastern United States. Several of Harvey Littleton’s students went on to disseminate the study of glass art throughout the U.S., including Marvin Lipofsky, who started a glass program at the University of California at Berkeley and Dale Chihuly, who developed the glass program at the Rhode Island School of Design and later was a founder of Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington.

Harvey retired from teaching in 1976 to focus on his own art. Exploring the inherent qualities of the medium, he worked in series with simple forms to draw attention to the complex interplay of transparent glass with multiple overlays of thin color.

Harvey  was married to Bess Tamura Littleton in 1947. She died on October 8, 2009.The couple had four children: Carol L. Shay, Thomas Littleton, Maurine Littleton and John Littleton. All work in the field of glass art. Carol L. Shay is the curator at Littleton Studios; Tom Littleton owns and manages Spruce Pine Batch Company, which supplies batch (the dry ingredients of which glass is made) to artists and art departments around the U.S.; Maurine Littleton is the owner and director of Maurine Littleton Gallery which specializes in glass art, in Washington, DC. With his wife and collaborative partner, Kate Vogel, John Littleton is a glass artist in Bakersville, NC.

Harvey’s work can be found in the collection of the High Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, the Victoria & Albert Museum in England, amongst others.

From our friends at the Corning Museum of Glass: Donations in Harvey Littleton’s name can be made to The Hospice and Palliative Care Center of Mitchell County that provided invaluable support to his family in the care for Harvey, and/or to the Penland School of Crafts “Harvey and Bess Littleton Scholarship Fund” that provides one full scholarship for a two-week summer session in hot glass.

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 and the Studio Glass Movement

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In 1962, two groundbreaking workshops led by artist Harvey K. Littleton and glass scientist Dominick Labino introduced artists to the material of glass as a medium for artistic expression. Littleton and Labino presented their development of a small, portable furnace and low temperature melting-point glass, providing artists access to glass and glassblowing techniques for the first time. These workshops kickstarted the Studio Glass movement, which emphasized the artist as designer and maker, with a focus on making one-of-a-kind objects.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the American Studio Glass movement, in 2012, a number of museums will be mounting exhibitions on the history and origins of the movement.

The Corning Museum of Glass has two exhibitions that opened November 17, 2011 and will run through January 6, 2013.

In the Spring 2012: Chazen Museum of Art (University of Wisconsin, Madison) has an exhibition planned, and there is an exhibition planned for November 2, 2012 thru December 21, 2012 at the: Visual Arts Center of Richmond (Richmond, Virginia)


The man called the father of the Studio Glass Movement was not at first a glass artist. Littleton was born in 1922 and raised in Corning, New York. Throughout his childhood, he had many opportunities to observe glassworking processes and to learn about the properties of glass at the Corning Glass Works. His father, Dr. Jesse T. Littleton, known as J.T., was an expert in the infrared properties of silicon and the first physicist to join the newly established research team at Corning Glass Works headed by Dr. Eugene C. Sullivan.

J.T. Littleton often discussed the properties of glass as dinnertime conversation, and Saturday morning visits to the glassworks were routine for Littleton when he was young. In 1936, he and his brothers witnessed, with his father and many others, the dramatic failure of the first casting of the 200-inch mirror for the Hale Telescope at Mount Palomar in California.

Littleton’s mother, Bessie Cook Littleton, was instrumental in developing Corning’s Pyrex cookware. J. T. Littleton had the idea that Corning’s low-expansion borosilicate glass, which had been developed for use in battery jars (used in rural areas before widespread electrification), could be used for cooking. He took home a battery jar that had been cut into a round, shallow pan, and he convinced his wife to bake a cake in it. Her success led to the development of Corning’s Pyrex housewares.


After receiving a master of Fine Arts from Cranbrook Academy of Arts Harvey Littleton embarked on the career of potter. Littleton received recognition for his work as a ceramicist in a national exhibition sponsored by the American Crafts Council at the First International Exposition of Ceramics in Cannes, France.

In 1959 he began to investigate the possibility of glass as a medium, and in 1960 had melted glass and cold-worked lumps of cullet. In the summer of 1962 the Toledo Museum of Art invited Littleton to lead a glassblowing workshop. It was in that seminar that Littleton introduced the idea that glass could be mixed and melted, blown and worked in the studio by the artist. Up to that time it was widely believed that glass objects could only be made in the highly structured, mass-produced world of the glass industry where the labor of making glass is divided between designers and skilled craftsmen.


With Littleton’s active encouragement and promotion, glass programs sprang up at universities, art schools, and summer programs across the country during the late 1960s and early 1970s; and the Studio Glass movement became an international phenomenon. What began fifty years ago as a small group of artists who shared an interest in glass as an artistic material has grown into an international community of thousands.”

In 1984, his daughter, Maurine Littleton opened an art gallery committed to artists working in glass and ceramics in Washington DC’s historic Georgetown neighborhood.


Rizzoli Publications

Maurine advised on Joan Falconer Byrd‘s new book : Harvey K Littleton: A Life in Glass” – This new book has many previously unpublished archival photographs and a detailed chronology. Images and the history of Littleton’s early ceramic and glass vessels and his richly colorful glass sculptures, among them the late “Lyrical Movement” series are detailed in this beautifully designed book. The book includes work by his close friend and European counterpart Erwin Eisch and his former student and much-celebrated glass artist Dale Chihuly.


Below is “Pioneers of Studio Glass” – a video that was produced by WGTE Public Media for the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass. It is a fascinating look at the 1962 Toledo Workshops where Harvey Littleton and Dominick Labino first experimented with making glass outside of the factory setting.


Pioneers of Studio Glass from corecubed on Vimeo.