by Andrew Page
Commuters rushing to the subways from Grand Central Terminal leave behind celestial constellations rendered in gold leaf against the aqua-colored heavens soaring overhead. When artist Jim Hodges was invited to create a public artwork for the stairwell leading down from the Beaux Arts terminal to the utilitarian 4/5/6 subway platform, he set out to mediate the architectural whiplash from the soul-stirring grandeur above to the gritty cacophonous underground below—and he turned to glass mirror to do it.
Step onto the down escalator, and you embark on a journey through a zone of inky indigo darkness to emerge into a dazzling and immersive landscape “painting” in glass, which references the natural world through color fields and camouflage patterning, faceted with stolen reflections of oneself as part of a momentary assemblage of fellow New York travelers. The opposite of a descent, the ride becomes a celebration of shared experience with multiple access points.
In this issue’s cover article, Hodges shares some of his thinking about his monumental Grand Central project in an expansive interview in which he discusses the evolution of his own unique art practice, in which glass plays a role for its unique potency as a metaphor and dynamic material.
With the pandemic receding, we look forward to a freer summer ahead, and all the feature articles in our summer celebrate movement in ways both obvious (see the showers of sparks that define Alex Bernstein’s unique glass-and-steel process) to the more measured (learn about the new directions Charlotte Potter Kasic is taking the new Barry Art Museum in Norfolk, Virginia, where she recently took over from founding director Jutta-Annette Page).
Our European correspondent Emma Park spends time with Elliot Walker, fresh off his win of the second season of Netflix’s Blown Away, who is moving British glassblowing forward as he is determined to employ his prodigious skills in service of ideas rather than make functional forms.
Our last feature is excerpt from a new Abrams book in which art critic Eleanor Heartney assesses Dale Chihuly’s installation artworks that alter architectural environments and provide new ways of defining interior and exterior spaces.
In addition to five reviews and the latest news, we present an essay in which curator Tina Oldknow remembers the late philanthropist Dan Greenberg who, along with his wife, Susan, championed glass art both as a collector and a patron, supporting numerous institutions including UrbanGlass, which publishes this magazine.