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Hilltop Artists 7

Hilltop Artists staff and students during a residency at Pilchuck Glass School, September 2023. Image courtesy of Hilltop Artists

Tuesday April 9, 2024 | by Jana Elsayed

At 30, Hilltop Artists takes stock of its decades of impact not only by empowering Tacoma youth, but inspiring others to follow its innovative approach

Hilltop Artists was founded in the heart of Tacoma, Washington thirty years ago with a mission to provide young people an artistic haven from the drugs and gang violence that were impacting the city in the 1990s. The initiative began modestly in 1994, repurposing materials like Snapple bottles to offer an avenue for self-expression through glass art. The initiative was led by gallery owner Kathy Kaperick and glass artist Dale Chihuly, and from this humble beginning, they proved the concept that glassmaking held special power to reach young people. Hilltop Artists would not only endure for three decades, but it showed the way for many similar initiatives around the United States, impacting generations of young people over the years.

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Paul Film1

A poignant documentary film examines the life and work of Paul Stankard, who set the standard for botanical compositions encased in glass. film still courtesy: paul stankard: flower and flame

Thursday March 28, 2024 | by Andrew Page

REVIEW: An exquisitely crafted film examines Paul Stankard's elevation of the paperweight form, as well as the life and times of the man behind the torch

The film Paul J. Stankard: Flower & Flame quickly sets itself apart from many documentaries about glass artists with its opening scene. With sonorous Baroque chamber music as the soundtrack, a close-up lens tracks across the artist's softly lit studio, passing over a pair of gloves on a workbench, plates arranged with botanical components waiting for encasement in glass, a library of color rods, and an unlit torch. Then the moving camera comes to rest on a set of hands poised to light the burner. With a bright flick of the sparker, the flame comes alive as the film begins, cutting away from the jet of flame to Paul Stankard himself, facing the camera in the first of many intimate interviews about his life and work that are inter-cut with archival images, shots of process, and experts who extol what Stankard almost singlehandedly accomplished -- to bring the botanical paperweight to another level.Art dealer Doug Heller, who has shown Stankard's work for decades, recounted his first encounter with Stankard's early paperweights and being impressed even though he disliked the genre in general."He transcended the paperweight world," Heller said. "Paul takes it somewhere else completely."

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Chrysler Fantastic Creatures

Giuseppe Barovier for Salviati. Granzioli Dragon Compote, ca. 1877–1914, Blown and applied glass. gift: marjorie reed gordon. courtesy: chrysler museum of art

Tuesday March 26, 2024 | by Jana Elsayed

With glorious glass goblets as the focus, Chrysler exhibition traces the triumphant rebirth of Venetian glass in the late 19th and early 20th centuries

In the secretive culture of Venetian glassmaking, craftsmanship became a whispered tale, a dance of techniques kept from prying eyes and kept alive against others determined to steal the techniques, or, later, against onerous taxation that practically destroyed the centuries-old industry. As you step into an exhibition showcasing 50 masterpieces from The Chrysler Museum of Art's collection, fine glassware festooned with imaginary creatures that might have surfaced from the depths of the Venetian lagoon, the fanciful figures could be seen as representations of the powerful techniques emerging from hiding places in and around Murano, the Venetian island where glass remains the focus. These imaginative embellishments of the glassmakers reached their heights among glassmakers laboring to reclaim the glory of Venetian glass in the 19th century as Venice was freed from the yoke of the oppression of the Hapsburg Empire. Knowing the history, these creatures unfurl like the secrets of a captivating story, weaving through the intricate threads of Venetian glass history.

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Rosalind Lemoh Photo 1

Ros Lemoh residency in the studio [1.11.23] from Canberra Glassworks

Tuesday March 26, 2024 | by Jana Elsayed

Rosalind Lemoh showcases the untold stories of Australia's capital city in works that expand the historical narrative

Australia's capital city, Canberra, was established in 1913 as the former British colonies on the continent created a federation and began to establish a national identity of their own. The site itself was chosen to settle fierce competition between the cities of Sydney and Melbourne, both of which were vying for the honor. Located between the two large cities, Canberra would be built on a site that had been continuously inhabited by indigenous people for more than 20,000 years. The first public building constructed in the nascent capital was the Kingston Powerhouse, so named because it generated electricity as this city grew up around it, boasting a current population of nearly half a million.

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Jeffrey Beers

A 2011 photo of Jeffrey Beers at an UrbanGlass gala celebration.

Wednesday March 20, 2024 | by Andrew Page

In Memoriam: Architect, artist, and longtime UrbanGlass board member Jeffrey Beers dies of cancer (1956 - 2024)

New York City-based architect Jeffrey Beers, founder and CEO of the successful hotel and hospitality design firm Jeffrey Beers International, died on Monday, March 18, 2024, from complications of cancer. Even as he built JBI into the global architecture firm it has become, and, with his wife, Connie, raised two sons, Beers found time to remain an active board member of UrbanGlass, which publishes the Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet. As an architecture student at Rhode Island School of Design, Beers had taken courses in glass with department chair Dale Chihuly, and, when he later moved to New York City, he continued to blow glass at The New York Experimental Glass Workshop before it moved to Brooklyn and became UrbanGlass.

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Tuesday March 19, 2024 | by Andrew Page

Cedric Mitchell featured in the Los Angeles TImes for his bold designs, work ethic, willingness to take chances, and successful reinvention.

El Segundo, California-based glassblower Cedric Mitchell and his Etorre Sotsass-inspired glass designs are the subjects of a feature article in the Los Angeles Times. Staff Writer Lisa Boone tracks Mitchell's evolution from his mid-20s as an up-and-coming hip-hop artist born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The article credits his discovery of glass at the Tulsa Glassblowing School, and his rapid skills acquisition to all the hard work and dedication Mitchell has devoted to mastering glassblowing. The article also notes some of the artist's fortuitous meetings, including his long friendship with Joe Carriati, which brought Mitchell to Los Angeles, and led to further connections in the design world that have allowed Mitchell to launch his own successful business, Cedric Mitchell Design.

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Bill Gudenrath Image

Bill Gudenrath Instructing Winter 2024 Studio Class at CMoG

Photo credit: The Corning Museum of Glass. Photography by
Emily Smith.

Tuesday March 19, 2024 | by Jana Elsayed

Corning's Bill Gudenrath shares his discoveries of ancient glass process in new e-book "The Techniques of Roman-Period Glassblowing"

Even for those who've never set foot in The Corning Museum of Glass, their website is a treasure trove of information. Thanks to an ambitious digitization project that included the museum hiring a digital asset manager and strategist in 2016, you can learn about the "most comprehensive glass collection in the world" at cmog.org through text and images supplemented by a wide range of videos linked to the museum's extensive YouTube channel. Click on the "Learning and Research" tab from the main Corning landing page, and you can also select "Museum Publications," where you can order exhibition catalogs or copies of the annual exhibition-in-print New Glass Review. However, most prominently displayed is the latest e-book by Corning's own Bill Gudenrath, the renowned glassblower, scholar, and Resident Advisor at The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass, who has been exploring how historic glass might have been made using his impressive arsenal of glass techniques honed over his decades spent at the glassblowing furnace.

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Saturday February 24, 2024 | by Andrew Page

HOT OFF THE PRESSES: The Spring 2024 edition of Glass (#174)

The Spring 2024 edition of Glass: The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly (#174) is hitting newsstands and subscriber mailboxes. On the cover is a striking collage of works by the father-and-son team of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, who, in the 19th century, were hired by universities around the world to create life-like models of plants and invertebrates for scientific study. The article considers the invertebrates drawn from the Harvard University collection, which are currently on view at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut in an exhibition that blends art, history, and science. Because the Blaschkas were not divers themselves, they had to imagine how the examples pulled from the deep would have appeared far below the surface, as the article’s author and experienced scuba diver William Warmus points out in his wide-ranging article that considers how to best understand this work in our contemporary moment.

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Friday February 23, 2024 | by Jana Elsayed

CONVERSATION: Michiko Sakano debuts "Droplets," her sculptural lighting series at New York City's Heller Gallery

Michiko Sakano, a Brooklyn-based glassblower known for her technical precision and originality, steps into the limelight with her first solo exhibition, "Droplets," at Heller Gallery in New York. This collection represents a radical departure from contemporary trends in lighting design, introducing sculptural, molten forms that are not suspended but sit on a tabletop, as they were displayed at the gallery, glowing in hues of pink, yellow, and white. The exhibition is testament to Sakano's commitment to embrace the spontaneous, and present glass in a fluid form independent of the rigid engineering that defines much of lighting popular today.

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Nara Snow Globe

An example of a Yoshitomo Nara Snow Globe (H 4 1/2, W 4, D 4 in) listed by EBay reseller Tokyo Select 55, which identified the Brand as MOMA. 

Friday February 23, 2024 | by Jahlil Rush

Yoshitomo Nara’s glass snowglobes face recall due to safety concerns

At first glance, Japanese Neo-Pop artist Yohshitomo Nara's portraits of children seem familiar, rendered in the iconic anime style of soft hues, pastel colors, with thick outlines. But look closer and you might notice the facial expressions are not the usual generic friendliness. Instead there are shades of something malevolent -- an adult-like scowl of discontent, a downcast gaze, or, on rare occasions, an actual weapon in hand. With an international cult following for his unique vision of dark cuteness, Nara has exhibited his canvases at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In fact, the MOMA Design Store even carries a line of objects for sale credited to the artist, but it is no longer offering the glass spheres encasing figures in Nara’s “Little Wanderer” snow globes. These have faced a recall from the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission, because, according to the CPSC, the glass globes are susceptible to fracture easily and pose a danger of injury.

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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.