Smithsonian American Art Museum Features Michael Janis

Smithsonian Distinguished Artist Michael Janis

Michael Janis at the Smithsonian Museum. Photo by Miriam Rosenthal.

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Washington Glass School sgraffito workshop. Photo by Miriam Rosenthal.

The James Renwick Alliance (JRA) is an independent national non-profit organization that celebrates the achievements of America’s craft artists and fosters scholarship, education and public appreciation of craft art. The JRA is the exclusive support group of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the U.S. national showcase of contemporary American craft. Washington Glass School Co-Director Michael Janis was named “Distinguished Artist” by the JRA. The weekend’s events included a sgraffito glass workshop with Michael held at the Washington Glass School and Michael Janis presented at the Smithsonian Museum’s Turner Auditorium outlining his career, process, and artwork. The talk at the museum was broadcast live and the Smithsonian staff promised that it would be available online soon. 3.michael.janis.smithsonian.american.art.museum.artist_glassThe final event was the JRA hosted dinner on Sunday evening – it was a very busy exciting weekend for the Washington Glass School!4.a.distinguished_artist.james.renwick.alliance.shea.trump.janis_glass_cuddle

Congratulations to Michael – well done and well deserved!

 

Artists To Watch – Jeff Wallin

Jeff Wallin “Improvised Mirror” detail, kilnformed glass. Photo:
Michael Schmitt.

Our second profile in the “Artists To Watch” series is Jeff Wallin.

Jeff has spent his life in the Pacific Northwest. He studied under Professor Keiko Hara at Whitman College, graduating in 1995 with a B.A. in Studio Art. Jeff continued to pursue drawing and painting after moving to Portland, OR. 

Jeff began working directly on glass using live models, eliminating the intermediary step of charcoal/conte drawings which he’d previously used, working directly with glass powders on a glass sheet surface. No preliminary drawings are used, no tests or experiments. Each new work is itself the test, the experiment, the first impression developed and pushed to a final form.

Jeff Wallin’s  introduction to glass came in 1999 at Ray Ahlgren’s FireArt Glass studio, where Jeff continues to work, gaining new understandings in how to apply the challenging medium of glass to his ongoing exploration of the human form. Jeff’s work has been reviewed in the Urban Glass Quarterly, and his work was selected for publication in the Corning New Glass Review. In 2013, he was a teaching assistant for Jessica Loughlin and Kirstie Rea at the Pilchuck School of Glass.

Jeff Wallin and Ray Ahlgren of FireArt Glass create the glass door panels for the US Library of Congress. Photo: Charlie Liebermann. Click HERE to jump to American Craft article on the historic architectural artwork project.

Says Jeff of his work in an architectural glass studio: ” I feel my work [with Ray Ahlgren's Fire Art Glass Studio] impacts my personal art work, and vice versa.  I often say that working with Ray and being constantly exposed to new projects (even though the work may not apparently have a direct bearing on my approach to art) leads to a level of familiarity with the material that allows me to work more intuitively without getting hung up on the highly technical nature of glass. It helps to understand when being precise is critical to success, and when it’s just getting in the way.  Plus, I think it keeps me looking with fresh eyes at both the projects at Fire Art and my own studio artwork.” 

Jeff Wallin, “Lucretia – After Rembrandt”, kilnformed glass. Photo: Michael Schmitt.

Taking inspiration from emotionally and psychologically complex figure painters such as Francis Bacon and Lucien Frued, Jeff’s portraits have the marks of a painter’s perspective and a painter’s intuition, the relaying of an idea by brush– all that expressed in the language of glass. 

Jeff Wallin, “Judgement (Study from Gentileschi)”, kilnformed glass. Photo: Michael Schmitt.

Talking about how he uses glass to create painterly works of art, Jeff said: “For my investigation of the human form, glass offers an incredible medium for exploring my relationship to this subject. My methods of kiln forming purposefully ignore most of the strict adherence to process normally associated with the medium. The work is driven to completion as part of a dialogue, which begins as a response to the model and then develops in unexpected ways as the work matures over multiple firings in the kiln. My intent is to maintain an attitude of spontaneity and preserve the raw moment when the piece first began…There are no conclusions, only possibilities.”

Jeff Wallin, “Classical Study”, kilnformed glass. Photo: Michael Schmidtt

Jeff has a solo show that opens at Stewart Fine Art in Boca Raton, Florida that opens this week. 
Gallery owner Sonny Stewart said of Jeff’s work: ” [Jeff] is a classically trained artist – the compositions of his work show his knowledge and sensitives… His artwork explores many of the concerns of contemporary painting, but does this exploration with glass. Painting exists in a continuum with centuries of tradition while simultaneously embracing aspects of sculpture, installation and collage… [Jeff's art] goes beyond pigment on a surface; it’s an approach to making imagery that encompasses the ways in which a material is used to construct the work, how the subject is approached, and even how the idea of the subject is concieved.”

Stewart Fine Art
608 Banyan Trail, Boca Raton, FL 
Jeff Wallin “Glass in the Classical Sense
November 14 – December 11
Opening Reception November 14, 2013

Maverick Mike Returns From Texas

The students in Michael Janis’ “Visualizations in Glass” circle around the instructor.

Our urban cowboy, Professor Janis, returns to Washington, DC after a teaching stint on the wide open ranges of Hot Glass Houston – looking a bit like he was rode hard and put away wet. (Like he normally does, without benefit of photoshop services.) He had a great time, and sent some photos of his frit powder imagery class, and tales of sitting by the campfire with the class. 

The students learned how to create imagery from frit powder.
The students dove right in, creating a series of samples of different techniques.
The class was very focused.
The students each created great images

A light touch…Michael divulged all his secrets of how to create fused layered images from frit powers and other media.
Besides the sgraffito technique, the students learned how to deconstruct an image into separate layers.
The images were assembled and fused into narrative studies – getting the 3 day class ready for larger works that pulled all the techniques together.
Cynthia Gilkey works on a piece that incorporates a tribute to her mother, Rieko.

  

Cynthia’s artwork as she worked.
The finished work.
Glass artist Kathy Jordan Walsh shows off her imagery skills.
A dam built around the glass stack keeps the glass from flowing out during the firing process.
After firing, the colors mature – what a great piece!
The glass sets up their works inside the kiln – listening intently to Cynthia as she outlines how to minimize air bubbles and “edge needles”.
The finished works as they are removed from the kiln.

Was there cattle rustling? Certainly. 

Houston has no zoning – the view from Michael’s hotel. Cow tipping allowed.

Bowling with armadillos…in the glass studio? Natch.

Honkey-Tonks and wet t-shirt contests? Hell yeah – This is Texas, after all!

Opposite from Hot Glass Houston studio is the Red River Dance Hall & Saloon.

A great time was had at a great place!

Afterwards, the class celebrates a fun session.