by Andrew Page
I can still recall that 2016 phone call from artist Mary Van Cline. There was urgency in her voice as we talked about the recent passing of a prominent collector, yet another loss in the thinning ranks of the confederacy of artists, art dealers, and collectors who established and nourished the Studio Glass community. She wanted the unique group of friends and supporters to be immortalized, and she proposed an ambitious photo documentation project.
My advice to proceed cautiously, to be conservative with costs, and to find an institutional partner to help fund the project, went mostly unheeded. She did, however, register my agreement with the need for this, and my encouragement. Van Cline’s own artwork involves a very different type of photography, but she knows her way around a camera, and, springing into action, she set out to document notable personalities in singular portraits. To be sure that the digital images would remain relevant, she went with the highest-resolution setup she could find, renting a Phase One camera and bringing it to SOFA art fairs.
We’re honored to present the first published suite of images from her portfolio, which so far includes 125 individuals. Our cover article by curator (and former executive director of Pilchuck) Patricia Watkinson tells the story of how these portraits, often playful, sometimes serious, came to be. While Van Cline has received some donations to help offset her considerable costs, those seeking to offer their support can send contributions in care of the Tacoma Art Museum, where six of her photos were displayed at the January opening of the new Benaroya Wing. Contributions should be addressed to: Tacoma Art Museum, The Documenta Project, c/o Rock Hushka, 1701 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402.
The rest of this issue maps a different terrain. There’s a wide-ranging interview with contemporary artist Donald Lipski, who‘s been pursuing assemblages of found objects (often glass vessels) exploring spatial and symbolic connections. In an interview with Glass managing editor Eve Aaron, a family friend, Lipski talks about a new type of work from recent hot-shop residencies in which he plays a role in the formation of the glass vessels themselves, experiences that have opened new directions for his work.
Contributing editor John Drury shares his passionate thoughts about a raw art installation in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, that he argues has the potential to bridge decades of racial division in this Midwestern city. Untrained artist Robert Blackstone uses glass and countless other found objects to create an imagined world organized around wonder and possibility. Establishing its importance, Drury calls for Blackstone’s achievement to be given a permanent exhibition space.
And finally, regular contributor Alexander Castro spends time with two MIT graduates who are taking the 3D glass printer they helped to invent into the design world, with a startup company that is as bold as the groundbreaking method it uses to create glass vessels in an entirely new way.
While the generation that pioneered glass art may be aging, there is no shortage of youthful ambition to advance the field and continue its remarkable evolution.