Ruth Reader

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

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

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

OPENING: Kate Baker’s new exhibition “Cipher” debuts at Bullseye Gallery

  [caption id="attachment_327" align="alignleft" width="300"] Kate Baker, Untitled Tetraptych (from the "Cipher" series), 2011. Kilnformed glass. H 22, W 37, D 1 3/4 in.[/caption]


This evening at Portland’s Bullseye Gallery, Australian artist Kate Baker opens her new show “Cipher,” a series of glass artworks that combine color with ghostly photographic portraits and textured engravings. This is Baker’s first solo exhibition at Bullseye. Concerned with the way culture and technology occupy both internal and external space, Baker imprints thick blocks of glass with texture and language, ranging from binary code to alphabetic, and uses vibrant colors to challenge the brilliance or opacity.

Since graduating from the Glass Workshop at the Australian National University School of Art, Baker has been a finalist for the Ranamok Glass Prize three times and was included in the 2007 International Exhibition of Glass Kanazawa in Japan. Last year, she won the Gold Award at Bullseye’s biennial juried competition, emerge-2010. She is also the co-founder of Locus Gallery in Sydney, Australia, which focuses on coldworking and kilnforming glass.


For a preview of her work click hereCipher, will be on exhibit at the Bullseye Gallery until November 26, 2011.




Kate Baker
October 5th – November 26, 2011
Opening reception, October 5th, 5:30 – 7:30 PM
Bullseye Gallery
300 NW Thirteenth Avenue
Portland, OR 97209
Tel: 503.227.0222


Hurricane Irene leaves Christopher Ries’s home and studio underwater

“I’m still standing in the midst of a raging stream that is deafening,” says artist and glass sculptor Christopher Ries, whose home and studio were inundated with water in the wake of Hurricane Irene, and continues to be threatened by high water. The GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet reached Ries on his cellphone today, and the sound of the rushing water was audible. Weeks after the hurricane, he is facing further potential water damage. In the last 48 hours, two flash floods have menaced his studio and home, both of which have already been so severely damaged that total refurbishment is planned. Inside his studio, glass models litter the floor and a heavy antique engraving machine is overturned, everything covered in a thick muddy sludge. “It’s hard to even describe the kind of setback that this is because of the mud and the total destruction of all the utilities in my home and in my studio.”

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400"] The sodden interior of Ries's studio in the days after the floodwaters receeded, leaving thick mud everywhere.[/caption]

With the help of family, friends, and a few of his employees, Ries is working to gut and rebuild his home and studio. While his home was flood insured, his studio was not. He is not currently receiving aid from any organization and doesn’t expect to. “You would think that we’d be on the computer trying to get a grant from some organization or another, but you just don’t have time,” he says. All of his time is devoted to restoration.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Models used for casting are covered in mud in his studio.[/caption]

Ries did his best to prepare, and his precautions were key to avoiding a total loss.When the hurricane was making its way north, Ries monitored storm updates vigilantly. At first he wasn’t worried. In the past, floodwaters had crested as high as 37 feet without damaging his property. Initial reports estimated Hurricane Irene would bring enough rain to raise the Susquehanna to roughly 34 feet. It wasn’t until 24 hours before the storm hit that reporters were predicting over 40 feet of water to hit the region. That was when Ries took action. “I got people from the church down here. I had people from my studio all working all night long getting equipment out, things out of my home. Next day the water’s rising, rising, rising into my studio, into my kitchen. The water finally crested at 44 feet. Forty-four feet! Anything we couldn’t get out was lost or compromised,” he says.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400"] What wasn't taken to higher ground was lost, including many antiques and collectibles.[/caption]

Luckily, Ries and his crew were able to save the large grinding and polishing machines necessary for creating the large scale prismatic glass sculptures that Ries is known for. His artwork centers on the physics and metaphysics of light and glass, or the way in which glass refracts, transmits, amplifies, and focuses light. In his independent home studio, he creates smaller works and casts models of works to be cast at Schott Optical studio. For now, the Schott studio and its staff are on standby until Ries returns. While the staff assists with polishing and grinding work, Ries says he has to have his hand in all aspects of production.

“I lay ‘em out, cut ‘em, I take them from conception to the end,” he says. The sudden hiatus comes at an inopportune time for Ries, whose work is supposed to appear in the Pan Amsterdam art, antique, and design fair, where his work will be exhibited by the Etienne Gallery at the end of November. He says he’ll try and send as much artwork over as he can, but he fears that he’ll be short on the number of pieces he intended to show. He’s also worried it will affect his reputation. “It’s really terrifying because something like this can be career-threatening. You can’t show up a day late.”

Despite the worry, Ries says he thinks he’ll come back better than ever. He feels lucky that his family survived and that he has a home to rebuild. “My shop foreman, his house was swept down the river. He has nothing. As water was coming in my front doors, I’m looking across my lawn to the Susquehanna, I was watching house after trailer and structure after tree just sailing across the landscape in front of me down the river.”

As far as his artwork is concerned, he’s unsure how it will ultimately affect his work. All experience being cumulative, he says, in some way it will affect his work somewhere down the line.

—Ruth Reader