Tuesday September 11, 2018 | by Andrew Page

Her studio destroyed in a massive fire, Christina Bothwell looks ahead to rebuilding and recovery

First came the raging fire that obliterated her studio building on August 8th, and then, just four days later, the flood that extinguished the smoldering embers but went on to inundate her basement, washing away a nearby bridge and the long dirt driveway to her home. Because the studio structure in rural Pennsylvania wasn't insured as a commercial property, Christina Bothwell was told she'd get no compensation for the total loss of her workspace and all the work she and her husband had stored there. Though the summer of 2018 was one of disaster at an almost biblical scale, Bothwell has emerged, a month later, ready to rebuild and get back to work to overcome the significant financial challenges ahead. As the main earner in her family of five, her loss of her longtime studio is a devastating blow. But being Bothwell, an artist whose glass and ceramic figures populate a dreamworld of her own personal mythologies, she prefers to look at it with gratitude. None of her family were injured in the inferno, and the artwork she lost gives her an opportunity to remake the pieces with all the improvements she thought about as they emerged from the kiln. Even in the intensity of the fire, and the desperate wait for the volunteer fire brigade, she never lost her appreciation for aesthetics, awestruck by the vision of her oldest daughter framed against the backdrop of angry flames, berating the late-arriving firemen in profanity-laden curses as a marvelous and breathtaking moment of beautiful intensity she will never forget.

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Tuesday September 4, 2018 | by Andrew Page

CONVERSATION: Dan Clayman talks about his new faculty appointment at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia

In accepting a faculty position at the University of the Arts last month, artist Dan Clayman became the first endowed chair of glass in the history of the Philadelphia institution that has one of the oldest glass programs in the U.S. (Harvey Littleton's student Roland Jahn built the first glass furnace there with the help of then-student Dan Dailey in the 1960s when it was called The Philadelphia College of Art). The program has a reputation for being under-resourced, but glass seems to be enjoying a renewed focus there. The hiring of Clayman as the newly created "Effron Family Endowed Chair in Glass" seems to be part of that larger initiative. Though this will be his first full-time faculty position, Clayman has of late been increasingly involved with education as a visiting instructor at the Masachusetts College of Art and also at Tyler, which happens to also be in Philadelphia. (Disclosure: Clayman is also a key advisor to the biannual Robert M. Minkoff Foundation Academic Symposium at UrbanGlass.) The Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet caught up with the busy artist who now divides his time between Philadelphia and Providence, Rhode Island, where he maintains a large studio, to talk about his latest move.

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Sold for $24,500: Tim Tate, 8 Bats, 4 Seasons. Wood, mirrors, cast objects, LEDs. H 36, W 36, D 6 in. courtesy: penland. 

Thursday August 30, 2018 | by Chelsea Liu

Penland fundraising auction and gala, its first under new director Mia Hall, raised a total of over $600,000

Earlier this month, the Penland School of Crafts held its 33rd Annual Benefit Auction, the first under new director Mia Hall. The gala weekend on August 10th and 11th at its historic North Carolina campus featured the sale of over 240 works in clay, drawing, glass, iron, letterpress, painting, photography, printmaking, textiles, and wood. All works for sale were donated by current and former Penland instructors, resident artists, and core fellows, with all proceeds benefiting Penland’s educational programs. Sales of art generated $336,622 with a total revenue of $614,026.

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courtesy: james carpenter design associates, nic lehoux.

Thursday August 23, 2018 | by Chelsea Liu

ARCHITECTURE: James Carpenter opens up the Eero Saarinen-designed Museum of Westward Expansion at the foot of the iconic Gateway Arch of St. Louis

In addition to holding the honor of being the tallest arch in the world, the Gateway Arch of St. Louis is widely celebrated as an icon of the city. Recently, the spotlight has been trained on the small yet robust museum that lies at its feet, also designed by the arch's famed architect Eero Saarinen. Named "The Museum of Westward Expansion," the subterranean circular structure is devoted to presenting the stories of the explorers and colonists who pushed farther west and expanded the U.S. territory to the Pacific. Thanks to a five-year renovation, this once-modest museum has been expanded and opened up to natural light through the strategic use of glass by James Carpenter. New, expanded entrance spaces make the museum more inviting, as does a newly constructed landscape bridge leading to it. The freshly animated site now features a new West Entry and public Arrivals Hall, adding a total of 40,000-square-feet to the original Saarinen Hall.

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Jeremy Bittermann, Scott Hall at Carnegie Mellon University, 2018. courtesy: office 52 architecture. 

Wednesday August 22, 2018 | by Olivia Ryder

ARCHITECTURE: A Portland, Oregon, architect harnessed her love of glass art to win a competition to design a striking new building at Carnegie-Mellon

When she's not in her Portland, Oregon, architecture studio, Michelle LaFoe can often be found at Bullseye Glass Co., where she takes classes, attends visiting artist lectures, and indulges her general fascination with glass. LaFoe’s passion was sparked by Chagall’s iconic glass work American Windows (1976) a painting in which metallic oxide paints were permanently fused to the glass with heat. When, in 2011, LaFoe was asked to submit a proposal for a new building at a prominent university, she was able to bring together her glass interests with her professional practice. For what would become her and partner Isaac Campbell's largest project to date, she proposed a glass building that is alive chromatically as the dynamic scientific research taking place inside its walls at Carnegie-Mellon University's Pittsburgh campus.

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Clare Belfrage, Quiet Shifting, Pink and Green, 2018. H 19, W 13, D 9 1/2 in. courtesy: pippy mount.

Tuesday August 21, 2018 | by Chelsea Liu

OPENING: Clare Belfrage reflects, meditates on rhythm in a new monograph, short film, and two solo exhibitions

Ever since she was a child, Australian artist Clare Belfrage has been uniquely attuned to rhythm. From listening to nature's pulse to immersing herself in the tempo of glass-making, she has made rhythm a continual focal point of her life and practice, finding in it a serenity and yet restlessness returned to time and again. “The industry in nature, its rhythm and energy, dramatic and delicate still holds my fascination as does the language and processes of glass," Belfrage writes in her artist statement. A similar industriousness is manifest in her own work: especially her series of delicately colored, evocative vessels that express a movement and vitality within themselves, and have evolved over the years in theme and technique. Marked by Belfrage’s mastery of fine cane drawing and stringers, the work is quietly impressive, and has recently been recognized in a new book and a short film. In addition to the publishing and film projects, Belfrage is also going to be showing in exhibitions in both Australia and the U.S.

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courtesy: sadie housberg. 

Thursday August 16, 2018 | by Chelsea Liu

IN CONVERSATION: Paul Housberg discusses his recent installation for Charlotte’s City Center and how glass is his ideal material

Overlooking the lively City Center of Charlotte in North Carolina, artist Paul Housberg’s abstract glass installation on the exterior of 101 North Tryon provides a colorful distillation of memory and contemporary life. At 25-feet high and 14-feet across, the large-scale piece further animates an area rich in historical significance. The famed intersection of Trade and Tryon at which it is located is known as Independence Square after the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, often believed to be the first declaration of independence made during the American Revolution, and today it is host to a district teeming with commerce, art, and restaurants. Housberg’s work, created in collaboration with Wagner Murray Architects, “honors the historic significance of its location while celebrating the city’s robust commitment to contemporary art and culture,” to quote from its press release.

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Thursday August 16, 2018 | by Justin Ginsberg

OPINION: A new glassblowing reality show asks artists to give up control of their image, and might present a warped perspective on the field

It was really only a matter of time before the first competitive reality-TV glassblowing show would make it into production. Given the onslaught of competitive, skills-based, and drowned-in-drama reality TV shows to provide cheap content for the proliferating online streaming platforms, it's no surprise that aspiring glassblowers would be seen as fodder for the same type of treatment given to the worlds of fashion, food, and tattooing. Let’s face it. Glassblowing is dramatic, and eye-candy for the crowds at museums which exhibit contemporary glass, offering chances to watch process from the comfort of bleachers with video monitors and high-volume PA systems making every technical step abundantly clear. Who doesn’t love a good camera shot through the idling fluffy torch, and pipe tips heated up in the pipe warmer, a good floppy bowl spinning out: steam, fire, burns, sweat, and muscles? It has all the tasty visual nuances that are guaranteed to fill seats. The call for applicants for Blown Away, coming soon to Netflix (theoretically), was announced in late summer. Casting will begin in September after the parade of auditions by U.S. and Canadian artists, craftspeople, and designers interested in being crowned the “best glassblower” is complete.

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A still from a promotional video that succinctly documents the craftsmanship behind a new line of wineglasses.

Tuesday August 14, 2018 | by Olivia Ryder

New hand-blown glassware line touts simplicity, provides insight into craftsmanship as selling tool in 2018

One should never underestimate the power of glassblowing to transfix an audience. But beware of overestimating it, either. A tasteful website for a new line of mouth-blown wineglasses keeps the theatrical presentation of the wonders of glassblowing to a bunch of still photographs and a minute-and-a-half video, but the process is still there to establish the craftsmanship behind a new line of glassware. A partnership with perhaps England's most-prominent wine critic, Jancis Robinson, the new Jancis Robinson Glassware Collection by designer Richard Brendon is his latest "heritage craft" undertaking. This spare product seeks to simplify the wine glass choices (see, in contrast, Reidel's highly successful varietal-specific glassware) and not only claims to provide the best single wine glass shape for all wines from champagne to port, but it also touts the refined craftsmanship behind the mouth-blown crystal glass from the skilled artisans of Bohemia. This collection offers one wine glass, two beautiful decanters (one for young and one for old wine) and a water glass that could double as a stemless wine glass, meticulously designed, and expertly crafted to look and feel refined, elegant and timeless. With recent high-profile coverage in the New York Times, this is an instructive look at the marketing and presentation of hand-blown glassware that could serve as a snapshot of best practices in 2018.

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Karen LaMonte, Kabuki (detail), 2012. H 53, W 28, D 31 1/2 in.

Tuesday August 7, 2018 | by Chelsea Liu

Karen LaMonte’s "Embodied Beauty" exhibition at Tennessee's Hunter Museum is her largest to date

Karen LaMonte’s ethereal female figures are absent save for an intimate record of their corporeal presence evoked by the exquisitely detailed drape of clothing. The models who sat for the artist as she created these suggestive forms have left, and what remains is a sculptural rendering of the uncanny, of lingering loss, paradoxes, and strange dualities. LaMonte's dresses thus occupy an intentionally undefined space between presence and absence, tradition and innovation, emptiness and overflowing with meaning. Through September 2nd, 2018, the exhibition "Embodied Beauty" offers 32 of LaMonte's figures to viewers at the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It unites two distinct series of works from her oeuvre, "Nocturnes" and "Floating World," and represents the largest museum exhibition to date of LaMonte’s work in the United States, bringing together her figures in cast glass, clay, bronze, and iron.

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GLASS: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for 35 years.