Thursday April 24, 2014 | by Paulina Switniewska

Paul Marioni and Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend celebrate long artistic friendship in Los Angeles exhibit

Artists and longtime friends Paul Marioni and Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend have several things in common, and their long association is the reason for a joint exhibition on view through June 28, 2014 in Los Angeles. Both artists have a fondness for the unexpected in their work, and in, "Seeing Into It: Messages in Glass" at the Craft in America Center in Los Angeles, Marioni and Stinsmuehlen-Amend carry on their tradition of creating works outside the boundaries of traditional glass art, both in style and execution.

Having met by chance in the late 1970s, Marioni and Stinsmuehlen-Amend soon forged a creative partnership that would span the better part of 36 years. Each would inspire the other throughout their careers, particularly when it came to creative expression through their joint love of glass as an artistic medium. Both artists “saw the potential of the material to extend far beyond its physical characteristics,” says Craft in America Study Center director Emily Zaiden in her article, "Illuminating the Message," in the exhibition catalog. “Glass had the power to stimulate the mind as well as the eye. In their hands, it became a reflection of their lives.”

Paul Marioni employs the subconscious in his work, strongly inspired by dreams. Quoted in Zaiden's essay, he states "In a dream state, I could address my fears and how groundless they really were." In works such as Premonition (1981) and Looking Back (2001), Marioni creates portraits of the deepest parts of his mind, constructing designs both familiar yet shocking in their presentation. Other examples of the familiar turned surreal are the pointy-eared Ghost (2001) and Black Jaguar (1987), which are made to look like amorphous suggestions of what they are supposed to be, as one might see them in dreams. Premonition displays a hellish landscape plagued by snakes, with three volcanoes unsettlingly close to the door of a lonely cottage from within which one can spy two eyes peering out—Marioni’s subtle commentary on environmental degradation. In his catalogue essay, Geoff Wichert characterizes the artist as a person “Not one to deny a compelling visual its allegorical potential, he alchemically converts life and art into social and political criticism, then back again into life and art.”

Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend, on the other hand, is inspired by the commonplace, day-to-day situations in life, which the artist believes are connected to the subconscious. Often autobiographical, her pieces are layered and multidimensional both in subject matter and media—for example, the artist’s beginnings in painting come through with her inclusion of paint along with glass. "I play with when you can see yourself in the glass and when you cannot," explains Stinsmuehlen-Amend. There are also feminist undertones, influenced by the artist’s work stemming from the time of the Women’s Rights movement in the 60s and 70s, with some works featuring parts of the female body. “Stinsmuehlen-Amend’s approach to the female body came from experience, and posed a counterpoint to centuries of images of women in art created by men,” says occasional GLASS magazine contributor and art critic Annie Buckley in her article about Stinsmuehlen-Amend, "X is for Xylophone." Other works such as Grocery Nude To-Do (Calendar Girl) (2013) and T.G.I.F/April, Calendar Notations (2005) capture events in the artist’s life, created from her own personal effects (lists, etc.). T.G.I.F  has writing from her calendar, and in particular subtly underlines her mother’s chemotherapy appointment. Her work offers a “look into her brain, and the multitude of ideas and demands operating in her life in any given instant" (Zaiden).  “This process of painting found imagery with notes, calendars, and shopping lists raised the minutiae of daily life to a level of prominence and focused attention on the unconsidered, the fleeting and the left-behind,” explains Buckley.

"Sensations and their experiences, whether they take place in reality or in dreams, provide endless content to both artists," writes Emily Zaiden. "Among the various themes that emerge in their work, consciousness and psychic awareness are launching points for each, although they take two very different routes that have equally unique results."


"Seeing Into It: Messages in Glass"
Paul Marioni & Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend
March 22, 2014- June 28, 2014
Craft in America Center in Los Angeles
8415 West Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Tel: 323.951.0610

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.