Washington Post Reviews Michael Janis Solo @ Littleton Gallery

The Washington Post published the following review of Michael Janis’ solo show “Echoes of Leaves and Shadows” being exhibited at the Maurine Littleton Gallery through Oct 15. Art critic Mark Jenkins  describes Michael’s skill as “extraordinary. Jenkins also enthuses that Janis’ glass artwork combines “the stateliness of stained-glass windows with the vivacity of pop art”. Have a read of the full text below:

Michael Janis. "Radiance," 2016, glass, glass powder imagery, steel; on view at Maurine Littleton Gallery. (Michael Janis/Maurine Littleton Gallery)

Michael Janis. “Radiance,” 2016, glass, glass powder imagery, steel; on view at Maurine Littleton Gallery. (Michael Janis/Maurine Littleton Gallery)

By Mark Jenkins October 8, 2016

Michael Janis

If Michael Janis worked with pencil or charcoal, his draftsmanship would be impressive. But the D.C. artist draws photorealist portraits with pulverized glass, placing the powder exactly with tiny tools. Which is extraordinary.

Most of the pieces in “Echoes of Leaves and Shadows,” at Maurine Littleton Gallery, include depictions of pretty young women. These gamines, who might be ballerinas or French New Wave stars, are rendered in granulated black glass fused by heat to clear glass sheets. The pieces aren’t just black-and-clear, though. Janis overlays and underlies patches of translucent colored glass, and often adds such 3-D glass elements as butterflies or flower petals. Aqua and orange are common in this array, among other hues. In one picture, an abstract yellow-green swirl contrasts the subject’s slightly darker green eyes.

Janis employs many variations, slicing faces into three equal parts or contrasting them with panels of textured glass. There are ceramic busts garlanded with glass leaves, and portraits embellished with near-opaque peacock- or dark-blue circles. The latter combine the stateliness of stained-glass windows with the vivacity of pop art — half medieval cathedral, half 1960s Vogue.

Michael Janis: Echoes of Leaves and Shadows On view through Oct. 15 at Maurine Littleton Gallery, 1667 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-333-9307. littletongallery.com.

Penland School of Craft Auction Features Michael Janis’ “Flying In Place”

Michael Janis, "Flying in Place", fused glass powder imagery, steel, silver

Michael Janis, “Flying in Place”, fused glass powder imagery, steel, silver, 24″ x 7″

With less than one month to go until the 2015 Penland Benefit Auction, Penland, the national center for craft education located in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains featured Washington Glass School co-director Michael Janis and his artwork “Flying in Place”. Below, Michael Rogers, Professor of Imaging Arts and Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology, describes Michael’s work and his process. “Flying in Place” and many other works of glass will be up for bidding at the 30th anniversary of the Penland Benefit Auction this summer. You can now view all of these works online in the 2015 auction catalog.

“Michael Janis is an exceptional visual artist, an innovator, and a master of the technique of fusing with glass powder-essentially ‘painting with glass on glass.’ It takes years of trial and error for an artist to achieve fluency in an area of artistic endeavor where one must charter unknown territory to make discoveries unique to themselves. Through skill, vision, tenacity, and dedication, Michael has created a strong and clear voice with the material that is truly his own. Certainly painters would envy Michael’s ability to orchestrate translucency, opacity, and transparency in tandem with chromatic diversity to achieve depth in the two-dimensional plane. However, Michael is much more than technically adept.

Michael Janis, "Flying in Place",glass, glass powder imagery, silver, steel, 24"dia x 7"

Michael Janis, “Flying in Place”,glass, glass powder imagery, silver, steel, 24″dia x 7″ The frit powder imagery is presented as distorted in the front-on viewing, and the distorted image is viewed un-distorted in the reflection of the silvered glass cylinder.

“After all, Michael is a storyteller, an artist who draws simultaneously upon the past, present, and future to develop the content of his work. Through memory, awareness, and intuitiveness, one could say Michael evokes meaning in his work. With Flying in Place, we are presented with a stunningly beautiful and fascinating piece of poetic narrative. Metaphorically rich in associations, this work preserves its mystery while engaging the viewer’s curiosity. In the end, Michael’s intense ability with material and technique allows him to transcend these aspects of making to communicate his intention directly. Michael’s genius is in suspending reality and creating an illusion one can get lost in. In this way, he captivates the viewer.

“When I see this work by Michael Janis I think that here is a mature artist, an artist at the top of his game.” – Michael Rogers

Please join the Penland Benefit Auction on August 7 and 8, 2015.

Join Penland’s event page to stay up to date on the latest auction news and stories.

Absentee bidders can register by clicking this link. For reservations, please contact Jackie Head at 828-765-2359 x 112 or auction@penland.org.

For more information about the 2015 Annual Benefit Auction, click here to visit Penland’s auction website or call 828-765-2359 x 112.

Artists To Watch – Jeremy Lepisto

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It is our conviction that the people with the best eye for artistic talent are other artists. So for a new set of (seemingly randomly placed) ongoing blog postings titled “Artists To Watch”, we asked working artists which artists they have been watching or been influenced by. 
The profiles that follow will reflect a broad, international and quirky selection – there are some incredible choices notable in the variety of approaches represented. 
Our first profile is of an artist that was born in Fairfax, Virginia, and was recently named a “Rising Star” by the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass – Jeremy Lepisto.

Jeremy Lepisto is a glass artist who has recently relocated to Canberra, Australia from Portland, Oregon. He creates works that have both physical and conceptual depth in his artwork through the layering of imagery. Jeremy received his BFA in glass and metals from Alfred University in 1997. He also recently completed serving 7.5 years on the Board of Directors for the Glass Art Society (GAS). 

In 2001, he co-founded Studio Ramp with his wife and fellow artist Mel George. Mel was appointed Artistic Programs Manager at Canberra Glassworks in 2009. Her narrative work will be featured in another posting. Jeremy and Mel teach a number of glass techniques at glass centers around the world; in 2005, I was part of their “Imagery in Glass” at Urban Glass in Brooklyn, where they outlined the sgraffito frit powder drawing technique. Jeremy is currently a studio artist and candidate for a PhD in Sculpture at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

Jeremy Lepisto and Mel George at the 2012 GAS Conference

Jeremy utilizes glass to “highlight the simple components and ordinary workings of everyday situations to capture the complex in the common.” His forms are minimal and often contain renderings of architectural structures, landscapes and people. Some of these works will focus on what Jeremy calls, “a detailed idea in juxtaposition to its general surrounding.”

Finding inspiration in the silhouettes and lines of urban architecture, including obsolete water towers and the tangle of city power lines, Jeremy’s work encourages us to question and re-look at the surroundings we usually take for granted. Said Jeremy of his work: “…I try to highlight the ordinary components and simple workings of everyday life and situations to capture the complex in the common. I strive to create from these themes my own objects that have an intricacy of construction yet yield a result of seamless simplicity.” 

Jeremy Lepisto, “LAST SCENE” – kilnformed glass, 2004 (26″h x 5″w x 3″d)
from Jeremy’s “Tower Series

Jeremy’s painted, fused and coldworked glass sculptures speak of the everyday scenes, landscapes and spaces we all share. His detailed landscapes are constructed into three-dimensional forms to achieve great visual depth and a distinct perspective.

Jeremy Lepisto “Without Meeting”, from his “Bridge Series
Jeremy Lepisto “Without Meeting” detail 
click HERE to jump to Jeremy’s description of the background to the series.

Jeremy integrates a unique mix of enamel painting and frit powder “sgraffito” drawing technique in his work – as demonstrated in this short video of his process. Click on arrow image below to play.

A number of Jeremy’s recent series references his relocation to Australia – and the process of building a new stage in life.The works from his “CrateSeries” depict and address “the want for goods that are un-order-able, un-receivable and/or undeliverable.”

Jeremy Lepisto, “Reach”, photo by Rob Little

25″t x 16.5″w x 23.5″l

He clearly understands the demands and challenges of fused glass with his use of layers upon layers. Jeremy said that he is currently hunkered down working on his PhD in Sculpture. We look forward to seeing how his work will evolve!

Bringing Light To The Dark Side

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Novie Trump is a world renown ceramic artist, working from Flux Studios, located right next door to the Washington Glass School. Her poetic sculptural work often involves depictions of nature – presented in unexpected and captivating ways. 

Novie Trump Escape Installation of porcelain butterflies and ceramic book
Ceramic, Acrylic Rods, Steel 
60” x 60” x 24”(variable)

Novie is working on a commissioned artwork piece that came to her via Project 4 Gallery: to create large scale installation that will be located in the new Farmers & Fishers restaurant now being built at the Georgetown waterfront.

Her artwork design calls for many porcelain bees to be clustered around illuminated hives are various locations. The design of the beehive has brought her to the glass studio – and it is a chance for the glass artists to bring Novie over to the dark – or rather – the glassy side.

Erwin Timmers offers some adventurous suggestions to Novie, but from the expressions on both her and Tim Tate’s face, they seem unlikely to be incorporated. 
A sample of Novie Trump’s porcelain bees

Novie chose to work with illuminated glass – creating a pattern of cellular hive divisions with frit powder fused to glass, and slumped over a tapered form. The WGS fritmaster – Michael Janis – offered Novie some pointers on how to manipulate the powder.

Novie Trump and Michael Janis share a laugh as they work
Novie sifts glass powder onto a sheet of glass
Manipulating frit powder is a delicate operation
Novie Trump and Michael Janis evaluate the glass’ progress prior to loading the layer in a kiln for firing

After fusing, the samples are compared by Novie Trump for her preferred selection of color and texture combination 

Novie made many studies of the color and textures and tested the samples with light source alternates.
The glass will later be slumped and a housing for the lighting made in the glass school’s welding shop. Novie will be making the rest of her porcelain swarms and fusing the glass in the next few months, and she promises to send us photos of the finished work.

Sgraffito Glass Technique @ Hot Glass Houston

>Michael Janis gets his glass to Texas.
Hot Glass Houstona glass facility that encourages exploration and good times has a great assortment of classes and supplies to provide the people of the Houston area with everything they need to do everything with glass. And they’re a Bullseye Resource Center. Hot Glass Houston is hosting a 3-day workshop with Michael as he divulges his secrets on getting imagery in glass –  ”Visualizations in Glass” July 13, 14 & 15, 2012 – Friday, Saturday, & Sunday – 10- 4 each day. Erwin Timmers had taught a Recycled Glass class there and really enjoyed the place! 

Famous Texas Icons: Texas Rangers, Oil, Armadillos, Big Hair

Click HERE to jump to Hot Glass Houston’s info on the class.


While in Texas, Michael said he wanted to check out all the Texas-isms he heard about from his Texas-born wife. The “Don’t Mess-With Texas” attitude, Big Country, Big Hats, Big Shoes, Big Mosquitoes. BBQ. Michael also said that he plans on re-enacting key scenes from Pee Wees Big Adventure that was partly set in Texas:


Being cheeky in Texas can end in tears.

USCRI Uses Art Glass for Centennial Awards

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The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) celebrated their 100th anniversary at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium. Their mission is to protect the rights and address the needs of persons in forced or voluntary migration worldwide by advancing fair and humane public policy, facilitating and providing direct professional services, and promoting the full participation of migrants in community life.

In light of its milestone 100th birthday, USCRI commissioned Michael Janis of the Washington Glass Studio to create commemorative artwork for the family of President Dwight Eisenhower and the family of Senator Edward Kennedy. The USCRI event committee worked with the studio, asking that the artwork represent the respective parts of the world helped by the respective honorees. The design was envisioned to have the central figure “wrapped” by glass powder images of refugees. The glass images would be created using glass powder on flat glass, that would be kiln-formed into sculptural shapes.


Concept sketch showing President Eisenhower with refugees.

Concept outline of Senator Kennedy with refugees.

Michael Janis created imagery using his ‘sgraffito’ technique.

President Eisenhower and Senator Kennedy were celebrated for their work assisting refugees and immigrants in artwork made by Michael Janis of Washington Glass Studio.

To highlight the award presentation, video images of the glass artwork were broadcast on the stage during the dinner. Filmed by Lucky Dog Productions, the glass artwork was shown rotating to capture all sides of the works.

above video is the raw footage shot by Lucky Dog Productions – a bit spinny for some – it gives an idea of the artwork in 360 degrees. The final video was slowed down for the broadcast presentation.

Hosted by Cynee Simpson and Chris Spencer, the centennial gala was held at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium October 19, 2011. The black-tie event included celebrity guests and auctions to raise money for the charity organization.

Susan Eisenhower accepted USCRI’s Centennial Award for her grandfather, President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Ken Leung – from our favorite TV show LOST, was a guest at the gala. Ken was a co-star on LOST, along with the USCRI Global Ambassador, Jeff Fahey.
Susan Eisenhower & Cynne Simpson posing with the Centennial Awards for President Eisenhower & Senator Kennedy.

Wyclef Jean provided entertainment for the night at the Mellon Auditorium.

Wyclef Jean attended to support and encourage the work done by the USCRI. Mr. Jean autographed memorabilia, then energized the crowd with his singing and dancing. However, the highlight of the evening was his display of an unusual talent. Wyclef Jean played his guitar with his tongue, and didn’t miss a beat.

Soon, everyone joined in the fun – including Ken Leung showing his break-dancing finesse.


Ken Leung (aka LOST’s Miles Straume) busting a move… that or he is doing his version of the spinning awards.

WGS joins all in congratulating and celebrating the USCRI’s 100 years.

Michael Janis’ Solo Exhibition @ Fuller Craft Museum

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Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, Massachusetts

Founded as a traditional fine arts museum and cultural center, over the past four decades the Fuller Craft Museum has transformed itself into a collection devoted entirely to crafts, one of only eight such museums in the US.
New England’s only museum of contemporary craft presents A Lighter Hand: The Glass Drawings of Michael Janis, on display Aug. 6 – Nov. 6, 2011.


One of the new works Michael has made for the exhibition is a site-specific sculpture that measures 8′-0″ and will be installed in floor to ceiling window of the exhibition space.


Michael Janis Unpredictable Factors
3′-0″W x 8′-0″H x 4″
fused glass, glass powder imagery, steel

Michael Janis Unpredictable Factors (detail)
3′-0″W x 8′-0″H x 4″
fused glass, glass powder imagery, steel

From the Fuller Craft Museum press release:

,,,”Janis’ work is the result of a laborious and challenging process. Similar to sgraffito, where a design is scratched through a colored ground revealing another color beneath; to produce the image Janis sifts black glass powder onto sheet glass, scraping away the powder to produce the detail. The image is suspended between layers of sheet glass and fired in a kiln to fuse the constituent pieces together. In this manner any number of images can be combined to produce complex juxtapositions. The result is a collage produced entirely in glass, built from a time-consuming process allowing for an extended contemplation of his subjects.
Building on the legacy of Surrealist artists of the early 20th century, in particular Giorgio de Chirico whose paintings juxtaposed disparate objects in moody and indistinct landscapes, Janis is able to construct a contemplative feeling from the layering of seemingly inanimate objects and ambiguous characters. His images in glass, particularly those examples in a tall and narrow format, also allude to the narrative quality of stained glass.
The juxtaposition of text, symbols, and figures seem to imply a hidden message or meaning, but like an ink blot or word association Janis leaves the viewer to provide their own conclusions.
Janis lives and works in Washington, DC, where he is Co-Director and an instructor at the Washington Glass School. He first began working with glass as an architect, evident in his dedication to sheet glass and the precision draftsmanship in his drawings.

Fuller Craft will celebrate the opening of A Lighter Hand, with a public reception August 7 at 2 p.m. at the Museum. The reception is free for members and free with museum admission for all others.”
A lecture by Michael Janis precedes the public reception – click HERE for more information.

The Fuller Museum is located at 455 Oak Street, Brockton, MA 02301

Rainy Saturday at the Glass School

>Its a dreary downtown day; the sky’s a charcoal gray, but here at the Washington Glass School, we don’t need the sun to shine! Below is a quick photo tour around the place on this wet spring Saturday :
Lino-cut Printmaking with Cast Glass panels class powers on:

Instructor Kirk Waldroff checks on a student as he grinds & coldworks his cast glass panel.

Carving into the lino blocks

Inking the glass panels


Pulling a Print – Nancy Donnelly takes us through the process.


The glass block and the print side by side.

While in the Flameworking studio, test glass color samples being made:

Rob Kincheloe works color combos for a fused glass camouflage pattern background. Here Rob talks of the color options with Kirk Waldroff.

A modern PETA-friendly animal mounting.


In the back studio – artists working on artwork / sculpture components
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Matt Duffy works on his steel and glass sculpture components.


Michael Janis works on a sgraffitto panel to be shown at Glass Weekend in New Jersey.

Fused Imagery In Glass – The Process

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Michael Janis was setting up a firing the other day of his thick layered glass panels, and the Washington Glass School blog asked how he created his frit powder drawings.


Detailed sketches are created to plan the layout each glass layer. Michael sifts frit powder onto sheet glass and manipulates with an scapel blade tip, scratching the powder until he is happy with the imagery (his version of sgraffito – or ” little scratch” technique.) Each working is fired into the glass, and aligned with the successive panel.
This process can take a number of weeks and requires multiple kiln firings. Once Michael is satisfied with the color depth of the frit powder application, he begins his set-up inside a kiln for the final firing – or full fuse.


The panels are assembled into the kiln, sometimes with clear interlayers.


The top layer is placed in the kiln.

The kiln is then set for a long schedule to allow for proper annealing of 6 layers of bullseye glass.
After the glass cools, Michael then cleans and coldworks the slab, and prepares for mounting into one of his steel frames.
The piece shown here is titled “Somewhere I Have Never Traveled”, and will be shown by
Maurine Littleton Gallery during SOFA Chicago.

Imagery In Glass Class

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Instructor Michael Janis explains how imagery can be fused into glass.

Class 1005 – Imagery in Glass was alot of fun this weekend, a great way to celebrate the end of the blizzard weather the DC metro area has been suffering thru. The class dove right in learning how to use glass frit powder, high temperature enamels, stencils, glass paints and fused glass photo-imagery.


Michael Janis outlines the sgraffito technique


Michael is assisted by artists Chris Shea and Dave Pearcy.


Hands on practice is the best way to learn any new process.

all photos by Tracy Lee