Saturday July 6, 2024 | by Andrew Page

SEEN: Two glass exhibitions of note near Cape Cod are drawing new interest to the medium in an area that once had a thriving glass industry

Museums of glass are often located near industrial glass concerns because such firms are often the founders. Toledo Museum of Art has enjoyed the support of Edward Drummond Libbey, or his namesake glass company, Libbey, Inc., since its founding. The Corning Museum of Glass, which opened in 1951 in a building known as the Corning Glass Center where glass technology was showcased and viewers could watch Steuben artisans at work, has enjoyed the patronage of Corning, Inc. ever since. But the Sandwich Glass Museum in Sandwich, Massachusetts, never enjoyed a direct financial link to the Boston and Sandwich Glassworks, one of the first pressed-glass factories, and a major glass producer in the 19th century. While the local glassworks closed in 1888, years before the museum's 1907 founding as the Sandwich Historical Society. The Sandwich Glass Museum grew out of local efforts to preserve the history of the company in this Cape Cod town, and it now offers galleries of historic decorative glass from the Boston and Sandwich Glassworks, as well as a working hotshop, where demos are presented. In addition, there are exhibitions that focus on contemporary glass, connecting the past and the future.

On view through November 2, 2024, is "Heartbeats and Harmony," an exhibition that celebrates the collaboration between Carl Lopes and Robert Dane, who are both inspired by African music and traditions via Cuba. Dane had been the co-owner of the former Dane Gallery on Nantucket, and an artist in his own right with an interest in traditional glassblowing techniques. Lopes is an arts educator who incorporates glass beads into his multi-media work that references centuries of African visual-arts traditions, and updates them using contemporary materials like resins and techniques such as air-brushing. The two artists collaborated on several works in the exhibition, which also features each artists' individual oeuvre as well, which provides interesting counterpoints to the collaborative work.

The contemporary exhibition was curated by executive director of the Sandwich Glass Museum, Mary Childs, who also played a curatorial role at another area exhibition of contemporary glass, this one at the New Bedford Art Museum, which is less than an hour away by car. "Pathfinders" is on view in New Bedford, Massachusetts, through July 14th, and brings together a wide range of glass artists with direct or indirect connections to this coastal area just over the river from Providence, Rhode Island. Unifying all the artwork on view is the artist who created a large chandelier that is now permanently installed inside the museum. Presiding over the exhibition is a blue, silver, and gold Dale Chihuly chandelier entitled Luminous Silver, a gift from a local collector. Its installation was the impetus to organize a glass exhibition showing the many artists who interacted with Chihuly, either when he led the glass program at the Rhode Island School of Design for many years, or through influence or working together.


"Pathfinders" includes work by William Beattie, Nancy Callan, Kéké Cribbs, Dale Chihuly, Concetta Mason, Marvin Lipofsky, Nick Leonoff, Dominick Labino, Sidney Hutter, Harvey Littleton, Toots Zynsky, William Morris, Paul Seide, Stephen Rolfe Powell, Lino Tagliapietra, David Schwarz, and Therman Statom, all of whom were either students of Chihuly's, contemporaries, or who connected with the most famous glass artist on the West Coast. 

"Many people may know Dale Chihuly’s name, but they may not know his significance in the world of glass sculpture and his place in the contemporary art scene writ large," says Suzanne de Vegh, the executive director of the New Bedford Art Museum. The project brought a third institution into the mix. Kirk Nelson, the executive director of the New Bedford Museum of Glass, was also in discussions of the exhibition, and his museum loaned the Dominick Labino sculptures on display. Other works are on loan from local collectors, or the artists, themselves, mostly arranged with the help of Childs, who is well connected among glass collectors from her many years as a gallerist based in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and working with other galleries, as well.

"Pathfinders" has been a blockbuster exhibition for the New Bedford Art Museum, and has brought in the largest audience of any show in recent years. 

"Our goal with this exhibition was to reveal a diversity of techniques and approaches to the use of glass celebrating the material’s artistic richness," says de Vegh. In its thoughtful adjacencies and concise wall texts, "Pathfinders" suggests connections and makes associations that make the wide range of approaches to glass a little more coherent to a general audience, which has been showing up in record numbers.


"Heartbeats and Harmony"
Robert Dane and Carl Lopes
Through November 2, 2024
Sandwich Glass Museum
129 Main Street
Sandwich, Massachusetts
Tel: 508-888-0251
Exhibition website
Group Exhibition
Through July 14, 2024
New Bedford Art Museum
608 Pleasant Street
New Bedford, Massachusetts
Tel: (508) 961-3072
Exhibition website

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