Ruth Reader

Spider Webs and Galaxies Inspire a 20-ton Sculpture Overlooking Central Park


In 1945 Buckminster Fuller erected a geodesic dome the size of large hut on the campus of Bennington College in Vermont. Built from aluminum aircraft equipment and vinyl, the structure was said to support its own weight and more. Supposedly, Fuller suspended a number of his students from the dome to demonstrate its superior endurance and weight bearing abilities. His unconventional design quickly gained notice, most notably from the U.S. government, which used it to create portable emergency shelters. The design has also served as a source of inspiration for many artists and designers. Argentinian-born Tomas Saraceno is one of them.

Saraceno’s latest artistic installation, a 20-ton constellation of shimmering stainless steel modules built on roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, echoes themes central to Buckminster’s vision: art inspired by science, science inspired by art. Visitors of the Escher-like installation are invited to walk inside and experience for themselves its unsettling sense of weightlessness. Carol Vogel of the New York Times writes:

Like many of Mr. Saraceno’s installations “Cloud City” is his vision of floating or flying cities—places that defy conventional notions of space, time and gravity. “You can have a feeling of weightlessness that’s a bit disorienting,” he admitted.

.Cloud Cities is not Saraceno’s first crack at science-inspired art, Vogel notes:

Anne L. Strauss, associate curator in the Met’s modern and contemporary art department, first saw Mr. Saraceno’s work at the 2009 Venice Biennale, where molecular webs of black elastic rope enveloped a large white gallery in the main building of the Giardini. The strands themselves were complex crystalline shapes, making the installation as architectural as it was philosophical. The spider’s web, whose shapes can be so easily destroyed, were Mr. Saraceno’s metaphor for the fragility of the world. “After I saw that piece, I thought, given his unfettered inventiveness, Tomás would be the ideal artist to create something for this site,” Ms. Strauss said, adding that “Cloud City” would be “similar to a telescope looking into the atmosphere.”

Join us on Thursday, May 31, at the Met for Artist as Innovator: Visions of a Floating City when Saraceno explores the evolving relationship between science and art with renowned spider expert Peter Jager, astrophysicist Mario Livio, astrobiologist Christopher McKay and architect Mark Wigley.

See Icarus at the Edge of Time performed at the historic United Palace Theatre


Katy Clark, president and executive director of Orchestra of St Luke’s, recalls the evening in 2010 when St Luke's performed the premiere of Icarus at the Edge of Time, a multimedia adaptation of Brian Greene's children's book about a young boy who dares to challenge the might of a black hole.

“It was an unforgettable experience,” she told New York Public Media’s Channel Thirteen in a story published today. Clark says:

Arts education has always been an important part of the work we do, and this is a piece of music that illuminates the connections between science and art for audiences of all ages.

On May 30th, Icarus at the Edge of Time returns for another spellbinding performance, this time at the historic United Palace Theater in Washington Heights. The neoclassical-style venue designed in the 1930’s accommodates 3,300 guests. Check out this video posted by Thirteen showcasing the venue’s striking beauty.

As part of our ongoing outreach to science educators, we are pleased to offer qualifying educators limited complimentary tickets to the performance for themselves and their students. Click here to find out how to apply. Tickets to Icarus are also available to the general public.

SEEN: Chinese artist’s broken bottle installation transfixes at gallery in New York City landmark



Chinese artist Hu Bing makes her mark on the Manhattan landmark Flatiron building this month. “Shattered Glass Sheer Transformation,” her colorful installation of broken glass bottles molded into sculpture with resin and hung from the ceiling in stockings, occupies the Prow Art Space in the Flat Iron building from now until June 2nd.

The gallery is a recent addition to Manhattan’s Flatiron district. Last May the mobile telephone network, Sprint, made the unlikely decision to turn their retail show room in Manhattan’s Flatiron building into an art space. The Prow Art Space now occupies the north most corner of the historic  building, a triangular fishbowl of an artspace that overlooks  Madison Square ParkCheryl McGinnis,who owns the gallery of the same name, curates the space.

Gwenyth Leech was the first artist to show at Prow, with a series of drawings on paper cups. For that show Leech was in the art space five days a week drawing on paper cups and adding to the installation throughout the course of its six month tenure, lending an interactive element to the public space.

Hu Bing Interior

Hu Bing Interior

Bing is also often at the space, adding glass shards from recycled and found bottles she has broken. Her ethereal chamber of floating street debris, a harsh mix of broken glass bottles and crushed auto-glass molded into sculpture with resin and covered in stockings and cheese cloth, is deceptively inviting. Stockings and cheese cloth provide little reprieve from the sharpness of the piece, but aspects of the installation feel soft. Perhaps its the hand-made iron clothing hangers the stockings suspend from or the shattered auto glass table draped in dyed cheese cloth that give the space a homey feel.

No stranger to harsh environs,  Bing grew up during the cultural revolution in China. Though she was able to pursue art professionally, receiving her BFA with honors in Fine Art at the Shanghai Teachers’ University in China, she still felt China’s severe censorship limited her art work. In the late 1980s she made the move to New York, ultimately pursuing an MFA from the State University of New York at Purchase. She completed the program in 1995.

Her installation “Shattered Debris, Sheer Transformation“ harkens back 16 years ago to Bing’s days in Bushwick, Brooklyn, when the area was still prone to heavy crime. She remembers the area being full of broken glass: bottles used as weapons and shattered car windshields from attempted auto-theft, car burglary, and accidents. Despite the neighborhood’s brashness, Bing found a way to settle into the volatility. Her artwork reflects her perception of the world as a dangerous and precarious place and asks the viewer to interact with it and in a sense, get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

–Ruth Reader for Glass Quarterly

Craft advocate and magazine publisher Wendy Rosen running for Congress


 Wendy Rosen has spent the last thirty years advocating for craft artists and publishing both trade and consumer magazines devoted to covering the field, including her flagship publication American Style, which celebrates collectors as well as artists. Now the Maryland-based business owner is making a bid for a seat in the United States House of Representatives. The GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet caught up with Rosen by phone this weekend, where she was in Philadelphia running one of her Buyers Markets, a national trade show and wholesale market for handcrafted luxury products. “Actually it’s pretty good. Aisles are crowded today and people are more optimistic this year than they were last by far,” she said about the turnout.

She already has dipped her toe into politics with her American Made Alliance, an organization geared towards growing craft micro-businesses and American-made products. The organization also supports legislation that strictly defines products country of origin, so foreign manufacturers cannot claim their products are made in America. If Rosen makes it to Congress she would like to expand country of origin laws to include states, so  consumers will know that the cheese they bought was made in Wisconsin and the candles were made in Maryland. Rosen has spent years lobbying Capitol Hill on behalf of artists around the country. “There’s so much that I’ve tried to do from outside of the system and I realized that being inside the system is how you really get things done,” she says.

Rosen is a go-getter. She first got involved with craft artists after attending an art fair. “Artists were in the aisles complaining about their livelihood and wanting to sell wholesale, so I said why don’t you put together a hospitality suite and they said, ‘What’s a hospitality suite?” Rosen believes, then and now, that one of the biggest impediments to artists is a lack of business education. Her organization supports technical training for artists on how to grow and sustain their businesses. Rosenis also interested in  getting Congress to provide grants that would help artists cover trade show costs. She says, booths at large trade shows can cost upwards of $20,0000. For many artists from other countries a large portion of trade show costs are often subsidized, says Rosen, but not in the United States. “That’s a huge disadvantage to American producers that have to pay for the space out of their own pocket.”

Wendy Rosen 2
Wendy Rosen 2

Rosen maintains that providing support for small businesses is the best way to reinvigorate the faltering economy. “In the recovery of the economy 78 percent of all new jobs will come from micro-enterprise start ups,” Rosen says. In Baltimore, Rosen capitalizes on the growing trend of shopping locally. In 1986 the Rosen Group began renovating an old cotton mill in Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood to house their offices. Since then a variety of artists and small businesses have come to work at the mill, now known as Mill Centre. The building is a good example of the type of community that Rosen would like to create, one that predominately relies on  local businesses. Many politicians refer to this as Main Street, the common retail hub for many neighborhoods, villages, and towns.

While Rosen champions Main Street, she acknowledges it’s susceptible to local economy lulls and dips, which is why she thinks all local artists should also compete in national and international markets selling their wares in trade shows and other forums.  Her campaign draws heavily on her experience promoting craft artists, which may be too narrow a lens for some voters. But, with a 6.7-percent unemployment rate in Maryland, residents may be looking for a candidate that supports small business. If Rosen can open her campaign language to discuss small business beyond artisanal craft, she may have a fighting chance against some of her other business-minded competitors.

The Maryland crafts-advocate will be competing for candidacy in Maryland’s first Congressional district. Her Democratic competitors include John LaFerla, a gynecologist, and Kim Letke, a small business owner and government contractor. If she emerges as the Democratic candidate she will be up against incumbent Andy Harris (R), a career politician. Prior to being elected to the House of Representatives, Harris was a Senator in the Maryland State Congress.

—Ruth Reader

Executive director Michelle Bufano departs Pratt for Chihuly Center, hopes to find links between nonprofit and for-profit worlds

michelle bufano.jpg

The executive director for the nonprofit Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle, Washington, Michelle Bufano is taking up a new position as the executive director at the for-profit Chihuly Garden and Glass. (Her last day at Pratt will be February 3rd.) The new tourist-friendly arts center project is a collaboration between the Wright Family, owners of the Seattle Space Needle, and glass artist Dale Chihuly.

A contentious approval-process was resolved in December 2010, when Seattle’s mayor negotiated a compromisebetween Chihuly and the local independent radio station that has also been vying to use the same public space. Bufano, who’s been in arts management for the last 20 years, says she got involved with the Chihuly project early. Concerned with how the center would affect local artists and Pratt, Bufano started conversations with the Wright Family. Seeing an opportunity for artists to show their work and a potential collaborator for Pratt,  she became an early advocate for the Chihuly Center. It wasn’t until later in the center’s development that Bufano was asked to come on as executive director. She says the offer came at an opportune time. Bufano just finished overseeing a $500,000 campus-improvement project atPratt, allowing her to leave the organization on a high note. She’s also ready to take the next step in her career.  

The for-profit gallery space will be more like a tourist attraction than a museum, though the space will feature a permanent selection of Chihuly’s work, curated byChihuly himself. Each of the nine galleries will showcase a different era of his work. Beyond showcasing Chihuly’s work, the site plans on holding a variety of events and partnering with a number of local institutions. The Chihuly Center is already partnering with Pratt Fine Arts Center and is developing a relationship with Pilchuck Glass School. Bufano has a lot of ideas about how the Chihuly Center can benefit the greater Seattle area and its artists.


“We want to have a monthly event called Center Nights,” she said as an example. Center Nights would be an event where different artists could showcase their work. It would happen once a month and would be open to artists working in a range of mediums not limited to glass. Bufano also hopes to collaborate withSeattle International Film Festival to host movie nights at the Center. Another potential collaborator is KEXP, a Seattle radio station that also placed a bid on the space at the base of the Space Needle. The radio station will now be located in a building next to Chihuly Garden and Glass on the Seattle Center campus. Bufano muses that the two organizations could host concerts among other things. Of course, the Center and it’s multitude of events are all still in the planning stages. But what remains at the core of Bufano’s planning is inclusivity.

The Chihuly Center is a for-profit art space, a measurably different approach to art than most venues take. The project is being managed and funded through Center Art LLC. The organization is the source of all initial and continuing funds. Bufano sees the funding for the Chihuly Center coming from three main sources: tickets, merchandise, and partnerships. She hopes to keep ticket prices affordable to make the site accessible to anyone. “There will also be no extra fees,” she says. Customers will have to pay one price to get on theChihuly campus, not separate prices for individual galleries. Visitors to the Space Needle may get a special price if they  decide to visit the Chihuly Center as well.

chihuly map.jpeg

 As far as merchandising goes, Bufano isn’t entirely sure what the gift shop will sell, but imagines the items on sale will in someway promote local artists. The Chihulysite will also be available for private events, which she expects will generate a fair amount of revenue. Chihuly Garden and Glass is expected to open this spring 2012.

—Ruth Reader

Museum of Arts and Design celebrates 50th anniversary of Studio Glass with contemporary art exhibition from Venice

MAD Glasstress
MAD Glasstress


The year 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Studio Glass in America, and theMuseum of Arts and Design has made an unusual choice to observe this occasion through its upcoming exhibition “Glasstress New York: New Glass from the Venice Biennales.” The decision for an American museum that helped put Studio Glass on the cultural map with major exhibitions of Chihuly and others (in the days it was known as the American Craft Museum) is quite provocative. After all, one could easily point to the under-representation of Studio Glass artists at both GLASSTRESS shows in 2009 and2011 and wonder how such an exhibition relates to the institution’s own historical role in the advancement of sculpture made from glass.

(Editor’s note: Since this item was initially published, the museum has alerted us to a second exhibition honoring Studio Glass called “Playing with Fire” and drawing from the permanent collection of the museum that it is planning to open in October 2012.Look for a follow-up article when more details become available. ) And GLASSTRESS creator Adriano Berengo is an outspoken critic of some aspects of Studio Glass, which he feels suffers from too much focus on the material. In an interview published in the Fall 2011 issue of GLASS Quarterly magazine, Berengo said, “If the Studio Glass movement made a mistake, it was to make  a world apart, to engage in an insularity that created, if I may, a kind of material masturbation, more interested in how things are made than about what is made.” Continue reading →

OPENING: Hungarian artists hope to change perceptions with major exhibition

Hu Glass
Hu Glass


Despite sharing a border with Austria, and practically being neighbors to the Czech Republic and Poland, Hungary has never been known as a force in the glass arts. It wasn’t even until the 1950s that Hungary had any kind of glass art education.  Porcelain designer  turned glass artist Julia de Bathory developed the first glass art classes at theSecondary School of Fine and Applied Arts in 1953. Since then, the country has made major strides to train and educate students in the material. The Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design hosts a glass program at the undergraduate and graduate level, and the Hungarian Glass Art Society, formed in 1996 , has helped promote glass artists countrywide. This week, the society will show work by 45 local artists at it’s “HuGlass” exhibition. Continue reading →

OPENING: Bullseye Gallery turn its focus to the glass canvas



With an opening reception this evening, Bullseye Gallery kicks off a month-long celebration of two-dimensional painting on glass in their exhibit, “Facture: Artists at the Forefront of Painterly Glass.” The group exhibition will showcase kilnformed glass paintings (mostly frit on sheet glass) from the artists Kari MinnickMartha PfanschmidtTed SawyerAbi SpringJeff Wallin, and Michael Janis. In an telephone interview, Janis, told the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet that glass as a canvas adds texture to a painting’s storyline in a way opaque fabric cannot: “It’s shiny, it’s matte, the finish is so malleable it adds to the story.” Beyond the finish, Janis talks about the role of light and opacity in glass paintings versus their canvas counterparts. He says, “some of [the image] is obscured, some of it’s transparent. My glass panels are 3/4ths of an inch thick. Shadow and depth are something I couldn’t achieve as a painter or collage artist. Even the temperature of the material adds to the narrative. Glass has something that translates, that’s tactile.” Continue reading →

SEEN: Icy organic glass lighting and design take over Prague shopping center


Czech glass artist and designer Jitka Kamencova Skuhrava is currently exhibiting her work at the DBK, a major shopping center in Prague. The center’s fifth floor is a gallery space devoted to showcasing up and coming work by young Czech designers. Included in her works on display will be lighting fixtures she created for Lasvit, a leading lighting design and fixture manufacturer. Her chandelier“Icefalls,” which first premiered at this year’s International Design Exhibition in Dubai as part of Lasvit’sMysterious Forrest exhibit, will be prominently featured in the super store’s atrium. Icefalls is a cascade of glass and light emulating the way icicles are formed and inspired by time the artist/designer spent in Finland.Continue reading →

Glass installation by emerging artist Andrew Erdos gets notice at Art Miami


Art from glass is increasingly present at Art Miami (December 1st-4th) with Schantz GalleriesHeller Gallery, and Barry Friedman among those 2011 exhibitors spotlighting silica sculpture. But it was New York-based Claire Oliver Gallery that may have generated the most attention for the material with her art and video installation of the work of up-and-coming glassblower Andrew Erdos, who brandishes a 2007 BFA in glass from Alfred. According to Whitehot andHuffington Post contributor, Noah Becker, Erdos’s video projections of Arizona sunrises onto suspended mirrorized blown-glass objects (as well as the paintings of fellow artist Andy Denzler) helped elevate Claire Oliver’s display as “the best booth in Art Miami.” Continue reading →

Artist Beth Lipman awarded prestigious $50,000 fellowship


Beth Lipman, a glass artist known for her austere three-dimensional still life sculptures largely devoted to examining extravagance, is one of 50 artists to be awarded theUnited States Artist Fellowship. Founded in 2006, the organization provides each fellow with a $50,000 grant to continue progress work in their given field. While many Americans see the struggling nature of being an artist as part of the territory, United States Artists believe artists should be duly compensated for their work. Actor and director Tim Robbins hosted the awards ceremony Monday night at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, California. 

A graduate of the Tyler School of Art,Lipman has been showing her work in solo and selected group exhibitions since 2000. In ancient times, still life paintings were included in tombs as offerings that were believed to become real in the afterlife. But Lipman’s work dashes that notion, forcing her audience instead to carefully examine the timeless scenes. It’s this juxtaposition of luxury and chaos, a gluttonous bowl of fruit or a 10 foot tall dessert stand filled with a jumble of wine glasses and tableware, that makes Lipman’s work so engaging.

Beth Lipman in the studio. courtesy: corning museum of glass studio.

But it’s her cultural astuteness that makes Lipman’s work relevant, garnering it a place in many modern art museums. Her recent sculpture, One and Others(2011), features a table littered with toppled drink-ware and upturned remnants of a night’s festivities, serves as a reminder to many of the kind of attitude that landed Americans in the belly of a recession. The artist, who began creating these scenes at the tail end of former President Clinton’s economic surplus, an era filled with spending reminiscent of the the gilded age, often seeks to deconstruct the value in excess through her work. One and Others, featured above, is her most recently completed commission piece for the Norton Museum of Art in Florida

The Heller Gallery in New York, which represents Lipman, will feature her work  at the upcoming Art Palm Beach fair. The event will take place at the Palm Beach County Convention Center January 20-23, 2012, with an opening night preview on January 19.

—Ruth Reader

Berlin Glas, the first open access facility in this European art center, debuts


Berlin Glas, the first open-access glass studio in this international art mecca, will officially open its doors with a special evening of demos and performances a week from today on December 9th. Featured in the Fall 2011 issue of GLASS, the new studio is the culmination of a multi-year project initiated by American-born Nadania Idriss, who also runs the New Glass Art and Photography Gallery that she has recently moved to the same Parkhaus building as the glass facility. The glass studio space is about 750 square feet and equipped with bleacher seating for visitors keen on watching glassblowers at work. The studio includes a full hot glass facility and some cold-working elements.

The ecologically friendly modern complex was designed to fill a the void of available glass working studios in Berlin. Idriss hopes to offer a space where artists can work, learn, and exchange creative ideas about glass working at an affordable rate.

While the studio has opened, Idriss is still running a fundraising campaign for the studio. So far the studio has raised $7,925 with a goal of $15,000. The campaign will run for another 45 days. In the meantime volunteers and private funding are getting Berlin Glas on its feet.

The studio’s founding members is a collaboration of Americans, Germans, Canadians, Australians, and Lebanese; and by some of the biggest, up and coming names in contemporary glass. This year, in November, Tim Belliveau and Phillip Bandura of the Bee Kingdom collective in Canada moved to Berlin to help founder and director Nadania Idriss make this project come into fruition. This is a team with years of combined experience in management, programming, technical ability and art practice.

—Ruth Reader

OPENING: “BodyWork” features wearable glass jewelry at Bullseye Gallery


Tonight Bullseye Gallery presents a series of wearable artworks by nine female artists from around the world. Titled “BodyWork” the exhibit  focuses on the performative nature of adornment and explores the relationship between the work and the wearer.

Featured artists include Elizabeth AroHeike BrachlowJane BruceBonnie CelesteSilvia LevensonErica Rosenfeld, Luisa RestrepoBlanche Tilden, andYoko Yagi. All of these women have chosen to augment their sculptural glass artwork with jewelry making. The works range from necklaces and pendants to clothing studded with glass beading. Keep an eye out for Erica Rosenfeld’s They Loved Their House So Much They Would Do Anything To Keep It (2010). The piece looks like a bandeau style top covered with lustrous black beads, all hand crafted by the artist.  A more discerning viewer will see, upon further examination, a few pairs of eyes staring back at them from inside the beads. Rosenfeld fused images into a few of the beads keeping them well hidden in the overall beautiful work. The piece evokes  materialism and how we become trapped by the promises of the material world.

Featured artists include Elizabeth AroHeike BrachlowJane BruceBonnie CelesteSilvia LevensonErica Rosenfeld, Luisa RestrepoBlanche Tilden, andYoko Yagi. All of these women have chosen to augment their sculptural glass artwork with jewelry making. The works range from necklaces and pendants to clothing studded with glass beading. Keep an eye out for Erica Rosenfeld’s They Loved Their House So Much They Would Do Anything To Keep It (2010). The piece looks like a bandeau style top covered with lustrous black beads, all hand crafted by the artist.  A more discerning viewer will see, upon further examination, a few pairs of eyes staring back at them from inside the beads. Rosenfeld fused images into a few of the beads keeping them well hidden in the overall beautiful work. The piece evokes  materialism and how we become trapped by the promises of the material world.

Watch a slideshow of some of the work that will be on display at Bullseye Gallery.

—Ruth Reader


“BodyWork” November 30th – December 31st, 2011 Opening Reception: November 30th, 5:30 – 7:30 PM Bullseye Gallery 300 NW 13th Avenue Portland, Oregon T:503-227-0222 Website:

Glass Art Society announces award winners for 2012

Along with Joel Philip Myers, Bertil Vallien will be given the GAS Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the field through works such as this one entitled The Bar (1999).[/caption] The votes are in. Glass Art Society has announced its 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Joel Philip Myers and Bertil Vallien. The wnners will accept their awards at the 42nd annual conferenc , which will be held at the Toledo Museum of Art on June 14, 2012. GAS has been giving the Lifetime Achievement Awardsince 1993 to acknowledge individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the development of the glass arts worldwide.

A ceramicist by training, Joel Philip Myers was the design director at Blenko Glass. In 1970, after seven years of working at Blenko and educating himself on glass working, he began the glass program at Illinois State University in Normal, which offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees, Students have the opportunity to work with ISU’s 5,000 square foot glass studio called the “Vitro House.“After 30 years of teaching Myers has retired and now works exclusively on his glass vessels, showing them in solo as well as group shows.

The other winner of this year’s award, Bertil Vallien, is a Swedish artist who also began as a ceramics designer. While working for HAL Fromholt Ceramics in Los Angeles, California, Erik Afors, owner of Afors Glass Company, offered Vallien a position as a glass designer back in Sweden. In 1964,  Vallien began his education in glass at Afors. Over the years he has received myriad awards such as the Second Prize at the Zweiter Coburger Glaspreis, the Visionary Award from New York’s Museum of Arts & Design, and a Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences Gold Medal. He is a key figure in developing sandcast glass techniques and has taught widely on this subject.

Both Vallien and Myers will be awarded during The 42nd annual Glass Art Society Conference.  The Lifetime Achievement Award winners will each give a lecture at the conference opening ceremonies. Myers’ lecture is entitled “En Lykkens Pamphilius” (One Lucky Guy) and Vallien’s is named “There Must Be a Reason.” Vallien will also give a demonstration as part of the conference program.

This year’s conference will explore 50 years of studio glass, with events ranging from lectures and demonstrations to exhibits and tours.  There will be a student specific education center where students can discuss career opportunities and have their portfolio reviewed.

The conference will run from June 13th – 16th, 2012. Registration is availableonline starting December 1st.

—Ruth Reader


June 13th-16th, 2011 Park Inn by Radisson 101 North Summit St

Toledo, Ohio


Tickets: Adults: $275 before March 1st Students: $145 before March 1st

OPENING: Shanghai Museum of Glass celebrates Venini’s 90th anniversary



From now until February 8th, 2012, the Shanghai Museum of Glass will host a series of events surrounding the 90th anniversary of the Venetian glass design house Venini. The second-floor exhibit will pay homage to the various artists who have made their mark through their iconic designs for Venini. The exhibition will feature work from each decade of Venini’s 90 years with a look at a single artist and their work, starting with Zecchin and Paolo Venini’sVeronese vase and ending with a series of angular vases designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando in 2011. Tapio Wirkkala, famous for the Bolle Bottles will represent the years between 1961 and 1970.

The Shanghai Museum of Glass opened in May of this year and is the latest addition to China’s growing glass art field. Just five years ago, China didn’t even have an operational hot shop for artistic use of the material. Now the country boasts a a couple of university-level glass art programs, and, as of this year, a whole museum devoted to the pursuit. The Shanghai Museum, a gorgeous sprawling reuse of the former Shanghai Glass Company factory transformed by German architecture firm Logon, is a modern venue for glass artwork. The Shanghai Glass Company, a major industrial glass maker, sponsors the Museum in hopes of educating Chinese on the history of glass and provide a forum for artistic inspiration. The museum not only showcases international glass artwork, but also houses a public glass hot shop. Despite the fact that the country produces 80 percent of the world’s processed glass, there are limited venues for creative glass making. Having a hot shop was a top priority for the museum.

Bolle Bottles for Venini by Tapio Wirkkala, 1968.

In addition to celebrating Venini’s 90th anniversary, the Shanghai Museum of Glass is running their series “Transmission of Imagination — Infinite Possibilities No.4″ which features contemporary glass art from the China Academy of Art. Another contemporary exhibit that just finished its run in October, featured the work of American artist Steven Weinberg. The retrospective focused on the optical, transparent, and reflective qualities of glass in his solid, kiln-cast sculptures.

The Shanghai Museum of Glass hopes to expand the museum to include a whole campus dedicated to exploring the world of glass. The campus, titled G+ Theme Park, is planned to include a sculpture park, science park, studio, and business park.

—Ruth Reader

Open access glass studio merges with New Orleans arts organization


Formed in 2006, NOCGI offered an open access glass studio with the hope of creating a community for artists who had lost their work and equipment during Hurricane Katrina. The organization took over the former site of Conti Glass, an open-access studio established by studio equipment fabricator Wet Dog Glass, which left New Orleans after the devastation of the hurricane. The pay by the hour studio features a full hot shop, kilns, lampworking area, and a cold working shop. In addition to renting out their facilities, NOCGI set up some educational programming for novice glass artists. Still, despite regular bookings, the organization has largely subsisted on Katrina related grants, which are on the brink of running out. Local glass artists fearful for the possible studio shut down, banded together and began brainstorming. “We called ourselves “Friends of NOCGI,” says former NOCGI and current “Creative Glass” at YAYA studio manager, Mark Morris. The weekly meetings yielded a litany of ideas, including starting their own LLC where they could fundraise to keep the studio in operation, but no substantial results. At the same time NOCGI board members were toiling away at the same issue. “We were finding being a hot shop for rent was a tough model for making ends meet,” says NOCGI CEO and President Carlos Zervigón. He says he tried to grow NOCGI into a larger self-sustaining entity, but found it nearly impossible in an ailing economy. Ultimately, NOCGI decided to donate the facility and its staff to YAYA. “We know how to run a studio and they know educational programming,” says Zervigón. It was, as he says, a no-brainer. YAYA would be able to offer more learning opportunities to area artists and students, and have the financial stability to keep the studio in operation.

For more than two decades, YAYA has been offering young people the opportunity to get involved in the arts despite economic or social disadvantages. They offer all manner of art classes and workshops, but this will be their first time running a glass studio. With this new studio in their possession, they hope to expand their glass programming with NOCGI’s help.  But Executive Director, Baty Landis, has no misconceptions about getting the studio into shape. “I expect a two year investment period to make [the studio] self sustaining, ” she says. Landis has big plans. In addition to dramatically expanding education at “Creative Glass,” she was wants to push art sales. Professional and student artists will have the opportunity to sell their work not only at the on-site gallery, but also at YAYA’s satellite gallery and the Arts Council Art Market. Landis says in addition, she will continue to look for grants and other donations to assist in covering costs. For now, the studio will maintain as an open access rental facility with a few educational programs here and there. She hopes to have a full schedule of classes lined-up by the spring, after her staff has a chance to review the studio and see where the educational opportunities are.

While the future of YAYA’s “Creative Glass” studio and program looks promising, the future of NOCGI is less clear. “We’ve been in such a rush with the transfer, we haven’t had time to this about what NOCGI will become,” says Zervigón. He imagines the organization will act as a conduit for artists, helping them to network and promote their work. Board member and glass artist Laurel Pocari sees the organization doing more. “What we hope to do is give awards, grants, offer residencies,” she says. Without the burden of a physical entity, the board can work towards helping funding other artists and building partnerships with arts organizations locally and across the nation.

It will be interesting to keep an eye to NOCGI to see how the organization evolves. NOCGI’s transformation may act as an example for other arts councils and organizations that have suffered financially in recent years. For now, check out “Creative Glass” at YAYA this November 18th at the former NOGCI studio on the Conti street at Carrolton Avenue. The event is free and open to the public.

–Ruth Reader

OPENING: Jeff Zimmer’s political indictment at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show


Glass artist Jeff Zimmer calls his work “politically charged,” but not necessarily polemic. In his most recent series “Whitewash,” on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show from November 10th through the 13th, he explores the American tendency to gloss over past failures through his out-of-focus snowy landscapes. The solo show, his first in the U.S., is a part of the Craft Scotland delegation at the museum’s 35th annual Craft Show.

It is fitting, given his subject matter, that Zimmer is originally from Washington, D.C.. After studying at the Washington Glass School, he left the U.S. to study glass painting at the Edinburgh College of Art. It was there that he began layering his hand-painted and kiln-fired glass sheets in a light box to achieve a 3-D effect. Zimmer’s paintings are often eerie and look like holographic vintage photographs.

The work in the “Whitewash” series carries that sentiment. The series of seemingly deserted urban and rural scenes set in the U.S. and Scotland depict things that feel left behind or forgotten. The images are dense with snow and fog. Each painting shares the title We Were All Wrong, with parenthetical subtitles individual work. The global title is a direct quote from former weapons inspector David Kay’s testimony regarding the U.S. invasion of Iraq. They are differentiated by subtitles noted in brackets.

Since graduating from Edinburgh College of Art in 2005 Zimmer’s work has been selected for two British Glass Biennales in 2008 and 2010, and is work is currently on display at the European Museum of Modern Glass in Coburg, Germany, as part of the group exhibition “50 Years of British Studio Glass.”

Zimmer will be one of 25 artists traveling from Scotland to show during the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show in an effort coordinated by CraftScotland to offer wider exposure to its artists. Tickets can be purchasedonline or by calling (215) 684-7930, or at the door.

—Ruth Reader


The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show

November 11th – 13th, 2011

One Day Adult ticket: $15

Two Day: $20

Children under 12: $5

The Smithsonian’s “Craft 2 Wear” debuts in Washington D.C. this weekend

[caption id="attachment_322" align="alignleft" width="235"] Melissa Schmidt, Jaqueline Necklace, hand blown glass beads with film slides.[/caption] This weekend, the Building Museum in Washington D.C. will be the site of a special fashion show called “Craft 2 Wear”, a sale and exhibition of 40 craft artists’ work that can be termed “wearable art.” The pieces on display range from fabric to metal, ceramics to glass; and they are drawn from previously juried Smithsonian Craft Fairs. It all kicks off tonight with an “Advance Chance Party” hosted by ABC World News weekend anchor, David Muir. The Smithsonian promises an evening full of wine, food, a fashion show, and first pick at the crafts that will be sold on Saturday and Sunday.

Glass collectors in attendance are sure to be dazzled by Melissa Schmidt‘s bubbly glass jewelry. Her non-traditional glass beads are hand-blown globes, strung together in clumps on sterling or gold-filled neck wires. The beads are stunning on their own, but Schmidt is known to fill these globules with origami and slide film. The string of glass encased slides, illuminated by light passing through, form an interesting narrative. The one she most prominently showcases on her website was a gift to her mother on her sixtieth birthday. The necklace is comprised of over 60 glass globes each containing sentimental film slides collected by her mother. Schmidt makes earrings, bracelets, and necklaces and prices range from $75 to $1500. Her jewelry, along with the designs of 39 other artists, will be on display starting tonight at 5:30 p.m. and will conclude this Sunday, October 23rd, at 5pm. Tickets can be purchased online, at the door, or by calling 1-888-832-9554.

—Ruth Reader


Craft 2 Wear: Advance Chance Party                                                                              
October 21, 2011                                                                                                                     
5:30 pm – 8:30pm                                                                                                                            
Admission: $50
Craft 2 Wear Exhibit                                                                                                                        
October 22 – 23, 2011                                                                                                        
10:00 am – 5:00 pm                                                                                                              
Admission: $5
Craft 2 Wear Panel Discussion: Curating Your Closet                                      
 October 23, 2011                                                                                                                 
 11:00 am                                                                                                                              
Admission: $30
Building Museum 401 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Metro – Red Line – Judiciary Square Station

RIT design students get a crash course in glass with input from The Corning Museum


Last year Josh Owen, associate professor of industrial design at the Rochester Institute of Technology, had the radical idea to team up his students with the design team at a major manufacturer and see what they could produce. The result? Industrial materials molded into beautifully designed products. Titled “Metaproject,” the program offers students the opportunity to pick the brains of design professionals, come up with cutting-edge designs of their own, in the hopes of displaying their work at New York’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair.

In it’s first iteration, students were connected with Wilsonart International, a company that’s been producing high pressure decorative laminate for over half a century. Final student designs ranged from chairs, one made up entirely of small hexagons, to a ladder featuring convex and concave rungs. A panel of Wilson Art professionals, a magazine editor, a Museum of Arts & Design curator, and R.I.T. staff members reviewed the work and chose the six best student pieces to show at ICFF as a part of New York’s Design Week.

Metaproject 02, as it’s been branded, is all about glass. Glassmakers and curators at the Corning Museum of Glass will guide a group of both RIT design and glass students to create artful domestic products out of recycled glass. The hope, says Owen, is that glass students will teach design students about glass technology and how to work with the medium, and design students will educate glass students on design theory using R.I.T.’s own impressive glass studio. Stocked with coldworking, kiln casting, flame working, and hot glass equipment the studio is well prepared to take on any design they come up with.

While the partnership with Corning will give students access to a wealth of inspiring exhibits, workshops, and historical texts, the interaction of the design and glass students should also be interesting. The traditional glass program focuses on art for art’s sake, or as Robin Cass, faculty member at RIT’s School for American Crafts, says, “There is not as much attention on what you’re making it for, why, where its going. You’re making the great goblet but why? We haven’t been thoughtful about that.” Forced to go outside of their comfort zone, glass students will have to consider the client and production costs rather than flash and color. Cass thinks it’s important for craft students to consider the vessel and how its design fits into people’s lives, beyond as a mantelpiece. “We’re hoping they’ll graduate with more range in what they can do and who they can work with,” says Cass.

Experts at the Corning Museum of Glass will give seminars on the history of glass and offer advice on how to work with the material.

“Metaproject 02″ is a clear win for students, having CMoG’s experts at their disposal to help shape their artistic ventures into usable products and the opportunity to show their work in a well publicized industry event, but Meta-project’s effect goes beyond Rochester. Design industry professionals don’t often have the latitude students do to create products that move beyond mass market dictates. Presenting new and innovative work could act as a source of inspiration that flows back to those experts offering their guidance. “I think the work ends up looking quite fresh against some more staid professional works,” Owen says.

Look for the best student work in glass that comes out of the second year of this program to premier at New York’s Design Week at the Javits Center, May 19-22 of 2012.

—Ruth Reader