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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Glassblowing can result in serious art -- but it can also be intensely performative, a fact that has helped to fuel its expansion as an art material over the past five decades. Just ask the demo team at The Corning Museum of Glass in New York State or, on the opposite coast, at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, where the amphitheater is regularly filled with museum visitors who want to witness the process of making. Few other art forms are as regularly paraded to the public as their final result is taking shape -- unfinished and hotly imperfect. The same theatricality that reliably fills the seats in Corning and Tacoma is being banked on to attract television viewers. A glass-blowing reality television show tentatively titled Blown Away is set to premiere in Spring 2019, and is seeking highly skilled glassblowers to audition for the first season.
Stepping into Vidrio, a Mediterranean restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina, visitors are met at once by kaleidoscopic discs and whorls of color that recall shells and aquatic flora, and combine to create an immersive atmosphere. Through this 30-by-50-foot wall mounted assemblage by Doug Frates Glass, which consists of 700 hand-blown glass pieces hung by the artist and his two assistants, the seascape is evoked in a rich display that is offset by the restaurant interior's otherwise minimalist decor.
Constructed in the 1720's to serve as a summer residence for the aristocratic Dientzenhofer family, the Baroque Portheimka Summer Palace has been repurposed as the Portheimka Glass Museum, the first institution devoted exclusively to glass art in Prague. The national cultural monument, named on its website “a baroque pearl of the Prague district of Smíchov,” was converted into a glass museum by Museum Kampa with the support of the Jan and Meda Mládek Foundation. Portheimka will present a permanent exhibition, host workshops for children, and is currently unveiling its first temporary exhibition, a display of American artist Karen LaMonte’s spectral glass figures that will remain on view through November 4, 2018.
When asked by Glass Quarterly about his attraction to the mediums of clay and glass the newly appointed executive director of the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery simply responded in an email interview: “The material." Denis Longchamps went on to explain that "both are transformed by fire. Clay and glass have always been at the core of my curatorial practice and I also like to include textiles, wood and metal to provide a broader context. I did take a few classes in clay and stained glass so there is a personal attraction to both mediums. But there is more — both are hard and strong materials yet fragile at the same time. These opposing forces offers many possibilities for concept exploration.” This abundance of possibilities reflects Longchamps view of the porous boundaries between art and craft, and his resistance to definitions and standard narratives.
Since its inception in 2007, S12 Studio and Gallery in Bergen, Norway, has pursued programs with a focus on artistic purity and authenticity. An artist-run gallery and workshop, its approach has been marked by the ambitious cultivation of creative sparks and a fluid relationship between artist and public, between the conceptual and the formal, and between glass and other media. Now in its 11th year, S12 is preparing to cross its most ambitious threshold yet: a retrospective of many of its former resident artists as one last spectacular exhibition before packing up and relocating to a new location.
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.