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Issue 164 | Fall

Editor's Letter

by Andrew Page

Lino is retiring! For what other 87-year-old would this be a surprise? But Lino is not anyone else. (Disclosure: From 2005-2021, Lino served as a board member of UrbanGlass, the nonprofit art center that publishes Glass.) The news had me remembering a very  special moment during the 2018 Glass Art Society conference in Murano. The maestro and I were in a two-story gallery building he had built on the grounds of his historic home along the Fondamenta Serenella. Behind his glass desk, Lino was gesturing with his thick, working-man’s hands. He looked polished, with his white hair expertly trimmed, his eyes sparkling behind his steel designer frames. We spoke about how the world he had traveled for four decades, spreading his passion for glass far and wide, had come here, to the beating heart of glassblowing culture and history, where generations of young garzonetti like Lino had worked their way from youthful assistants into full-fledged maestri, themselves becoming keepers of the closely guarded techniques not taught at any school, but earned on the smoky workshop floor.

In a bold stroke, Lino had broken the unwritten rules when he openly shared his technical understanding of glass with outsiders, starting with a groundbreaking 1979 Pilchuck class. He did it because he is generous by nature, yes, but he was also deeply inspired by the creativity and lack of constraint of his American students. The freedom was intoxicating, and eventually inspired him to leave the glasshouse system to become an independent sculptor. And he paid the price for his openness when, back home, some cursed his name, crossed canal bridges to avoid him, or insulted his family.

But on this day, at a time when Murano’s glass industry was shrinking, when recruiting young apprentices was nearly impossible, the wider world of glass he helped inspire was returning the favor and had come to cheer on this glass mecca. They crowded glasshouse demos, a roving hoard who energized the somnolent island and brightened the sometimes-dejected atmosphere of an industry facing steep challenges. 

Lino was late for a lunch date, so asked me to walk with him as we finished up our interview. Moving briskly down cobblestone alleyways, we emerged onto Murano’s Grand Canal, where the line for tickets to his own afternoon demo had gotten so long, it snaked out of a church courtyard and down the Fondamenta dei Vetrai. As we passed, elbows nudged, faces turned, and an audible gasp followed us like an ocean wave of outstretched hands.

Lino being Lino, modest and restrained, nodded back or subtly returned a wave, even high-fiving one lucky guy. I watched this scene unfold—and in his straightening posture, I saw a weight had been lifted. Reedeemed, here on his home turf, where sharing his knowledge of Murano glass culture had cost him, he was, at that moment, swept up in this spontaneous scene of adoration and affirmation. The sight of him walking on air is one I will always treasure. The global glass community Lino had helped create came to his home to offer thanks to the maestro who, ironically, ensured the survival of Murano’s technical secrets by sharing them so freely.

Hourglass

Alison Kinnaird on the expansive possibilities of the ancient art of glass engraving; In Memoriam: Benjamin Moore (1952–2021)

Reviews

Nancy Callan and Katherine Gray at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Bainbridge Island; group exhibition at Pace Gallery, New York; Dick Weiss at Traver Gallery, Seattle; Dave Walters at Traver Gallery, Seattle.

UrbanGlass News

On May 12, 2021, friends and supporters joined UrbanGlass’s first virtual gala.

Reflection

by Rob Panepinto

Making Sense of NFTs and Their Potential for Glass Art

Features

How to Write About Glass

by Alexander Castro

(or David Schunkel’s Un-Doing)

The Fabulist

by Paul J. Stankard

Mining the expressive power of flameworking, Carmen Lozar renders poignant allegorical scenes that speak to contemporary concerns with the authority of timeless fables.

Flow

by Samantha De Tillio

Marvin Lipofsky was profoundly influenced by the anti-war and Funk Art movements around him, but never lost his singular focus on exploring sculptural forms in glass.

Animal Attraction

by Emma Park

Esteemed art historian Pierre Rosenberg, the former director of the Louvre Museum, has amassed a collection of more than 2,000 glass fauna, all of them made in Murano within the past century.

La Passione di Lino (The Passion of Lino)

After 75 years at the bench, Lino Tagliapietra is packing up his glassblowing tools for good. In an exclusive interview, the artist whose virtuosic experimentation and generously shared wisdom transformed the field, talks about his last series, his legacy, and his future.

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.