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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Celebrating 50 years of Studio Glass Art

I am very sad that I am not able to attend the Glass Art Conference in Toledo Ohio this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Studio Glass art movement.  When we were living in Ohio just a few short months ago, I had intended to attend since it was only a five hour drive.  Sadly, that travel distance is now more than about 20 hours one way and just not "do-able" this time around.  I feel the loss of being a part of this keenly as not only are many of the icons of the studio glass movement going to be present, but there are many mini-classes that I wanted to attend which I will miss out on now. 

While much of the focus of the Glass Art Society is unfortunately focused mainly on blown glass, I feel it is important to note that fused, cast, stained and torchworked glass also has a role in this movement.  I suppose because blown glass has an enticing excitement and immediacy it is certainly more entertaining and visually intriguing in process to watch than the process of laying down frit or painting glass on glass or cutting, grinding, foiling or soldering glass panels are to an audience. 

It is a shame because there are some tremendous contributions from artists who are not primarily blown glass artists--Narcissus Quagliata immediately comes to mind for his astounding large scale fused and painted panels (a little misnomer as he paints with frit and finely ground glass, not paints), Richard La Londe, who I am desperately hoping to get to take a class from in the not too distant future and who also does large scale public art installations, and one of my own teachers whom I adore for his quirky sense of humor and his astounding skill with airbrushing glass on glass, Raphael Schnepf, all have made fused glass works that are every bit as gorgeous and astounding as a Dale Chihuly work (who is my favorite blown glass artist just for his artistic vision and ability to market himself and his work in an extremely successful manner).  You might, if you are a glass artist, recognize Raphael's work as being on the cover of the System 96 glass catalog. 

Raphael giving us our first lesson in airbrushing on glass. 

Raphael and Karen Reed (another of my FAVORITE fused and stained glass artists
and a delightful friend!)

Raphael showing us how to "paint" with glass.

Detail of the process of painting with glass.

Rene Culler, who has focused on fused glass and pushing the boundaries of the medium, and Judith Schaechter who pushes the boundaries with the subject matter she chooses, and Karen Reed who does astounding fused and stained glass artworks, are my three favorite female glass artists and I have great respect for all of them not only for the works they create but for striving to and excelling in yet another male-dominated work environment.  I have many more artists whom I admire and whose work I am fascinated by, but these are my top six non-blown glass favorites.

Besides missing out on the goblet grab, and the lectures and demos that surely would inspire me, the other activity that I am sorry not to get to partake of is the public auction.  While I have not yet won the lottery and cannot at this time afford most of these works, just being able to spend time examining the intricacies of these works is worth the time and cost of attending the conference.  You can see the pieces that will be in the auction here:  http://www.glassart.org/2012_Auction_Online_Preview.html.  Ah well, I hope that I will be able to attend next year's conference.  In the meantime, I need to go... unpack more boxes.