UPDATED 6/28/20 7 PM In the first weeks of June, as Black Lives Matter protests swept the U.S. and the world, the Glass Art Society received a letter from artist, executive director, and educator Nate Watson, who provided a sharp critique of the glass-art community as a place with a lot of work to do to diversify. The letter was deemed so urgent, GAS published it online in advance of the release of its regularly scheduled newsletter.
The Summer 2020 edition of Glass: The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly (#159) is on newsstands and has arrived in subscriber mailboxes. In recognition of economic challenges facing artists at this moment, UrbanGlass is making it available at a Pay What You Can rate. The typographic cover design consists of a jumble of weather-beaten red letters spelling out "survival" with the rips repaired with clear tape. It's an issue about rebuilding after adversity, and it's told through the words of glass artists.
As stay-at-home orders were issued across the U.S. in mid-March, we at Glass: The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly made the decision to scrap our plans for the next issue. It wasn't that the artists we'd been planning to feature had become any less important, but the overpowering sense we would be entering a new era facing down a serious threat not only to our health but our livelihoods. The moment demanded something different, and so we decided to produce a special issue.
Judith Schaechter's major career retrospective at the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery may have been forced to "go virtual" a month after its February 2020 opening because of statewide stay-at-home orders due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the Philadelphia-based artist will engage in a public conversation with the exhibition's curator, Jessica Marten, the museum's curator in charge and curator of American art. The live event, scheduled to take place from 6 PM to 7 PM on Thursday, May 7, will be available for free via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/events/1081907148844560/), where you can not only listen in on a discussion of the career and artwork of an artist singularly responsible for expanding the realm of expressive possibility in the medium of stained glass, but also submit your questions.
The Glass Art Society is set to announce three new regionally-focused emergency relief funds for glass artists in New York State, the Northwest, and the Washington, D.C. areas respectively. They are targeted to artists in specific geographic areas, a contrast to its worldwide emergency grant relief fund that rapidly disbursed $10,000 in grants of $250 each to the first 40 qualified applicants from around the world. While the artist organization is looking to replenish its international grant program's funding, these new regional relief funds are looking to disburse $10,000 (NY), $5,000 (NW), and $2,000 (D.C./Virginia/Maryland) to a narrower pool of artists. To apply, you must be a current member of GAS and have your primary residential or business address in one of the three areas. Funded by The Corning Foundation, Chihuly Gardens and Glass, and the Kendeda Fund, the initiative is part of an outreach effort GAS is making to help institutions get funding to individual artists efficiently. It is not available to students or nonprofit organizations, but only to individual artists. Executive director Brandi Clark says that she hopes that GAS can offer grant programs in other geographic areas internationally, and will do so if they can negotiate funding.
Flameworkers from around the U.S. and the world have coalesced through a Facebook group to discuss a collaborative initiative to hand-make borosilicate splitters that would, in theory, allow multiple Covid-19 patients to share a single ventilator to address the potentially catastrophic shortage of such medical equipment as the pandemic overwhelms hospitals around the world. The idea was the brainchild of Joshua McMenamin, a Boulder, Colorado, flameworker, who came across a 2006 article in the Academic Emergency Medicine journal about the possibility of sharing a single ventilator with up to four patients in a dire emergency. The technique was used successfully during the Las Vegas mass shootings when one hospital was overwhelmed with patients. McMenamin, who the Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet was unable to reach for comment, was featured in a local television news program, and quickly gained support of the community of glassblowers through Facebook. On the COVMD Glass Medical Devices Facebook group, flameworkers from around the globe have been crowdsourcing diagrams and schematics, as well as sharing the results of their outreach to hospitals. The effort has been fueled by the enthusiasm of volunteers to turn their home studios into emergency manufacturing sites.
The Glass Art Society, which has already been helping the glass community to locate emergency relief resources through its website, has launched a targeted fund to help members of this international artist organization to weather the economic challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. GAS executive director Brandi Clark told the Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet that the fund is not actually brand-new, but the organization is repurposing an existing fund to respond to the needs of its membership. "The original fund was created several years ago as a way to help those in our glass community that have an experience -- whether medical, accidental, or natural disaster -- that impacts their ability to make a living and continue their practice," explained Clark in an email exchange. "The distribution of the funds had never been fully fleshed out, but the COVID-19 pandemic and its reach motivated us to quickly put together a way of getting those funds to those that are feeling its impact the most."
In 1985, glassblower Josh Simpson began collecting money during craft shows, together with Carol Sedestrom Ross (president of a craft fair), in an effort to support fellow artists who found themselves in desperate financial circumstances because of an emergency. This early informal effort grew into the nonprofit organization known as CERF+, which now has a full-time staff based in Montpelier, Vermont, and distributes grants and loans to artists, produces informative brochures about planning for disasters, and also advocates for the craft field in Washington, D.C. The COVID-19 pandemic, which is rapidly shaping up as a global health and economic emergency, is likely to impact artists and arts nonprofits around the world. CERF+ has quickly set up the "CERF+ COVID-19 Response Fund," a grant program for which they are collecting donations.
On Monday, March 16, the Glass Art Society decided to refocus its efforts from the cancellation of its 2020 conference to connecting glass artists with resources in the face of the growing coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. "As the situation in the States took a dramatic turn, Brandi [Clark, the executive director] led us to the decision to pivot," Lauren Bayer, communications and social media manager of the artist organization, told the Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet. By Tuesday, a new "Emergency Relief" page on the GAS website resources page went live, offering more than 60 links to online videos, educational resources, and relief opportunities.
The Corning Museum of Glass officially cancelled all its classes, events, and programs when it temporarily closed its doors on Monday, May 16th, but the world's largest museum of glass art is doing its part to help the glass community stay connected and productive during an unprecedented time when the nation is promoting social distancing as the best hope to control the spread of COVID-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus.
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 more than 40 years.