onceIhadalove, and it was a gas

by Rainey Knudson February 18, 2009

There seem to be a bunch of shows all of a sudden dealing with contemporary glass in Houston. "Studio glass" (as opposed to factory glass) is a relatively young phenomenon: only since the 1960s has the technology been available to artists looking to make handmade works in their studios, on their own.

The problem with studio glass is that it’s often very cheesy.
The best of it, however, is not only technically brilliant, but also does something wonderful with the luminosity and endless formal potential of this remarkable material. So it’s nice to have so many opportunities right now to look at it. To wit: 


1. Sean Albert at Peel Gallery. Albert, a former resident artist at the prestigious Pilchuck School (which was co-founded in 1971 by glass icon Dale Chihuly), makes sleek, contemporary artworks influenced by technology and design. The work pictured involves thousands of individual glass rods embedded in a larger chunk.


2. Over at MFAH, Pioneers of Contemporary Glass: Highlights from the Barbara and Dennis DuBois Collection
runs March 7 – July 26. MFAH curator Cindi Strauss put this
show together from the DuBois collection in Dallas. I haven’t seen the catalog yet, but it seems like a who’s who of late 20th century glass artists, including Chihuly, Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova,
Harvey Littleton, Tom Patti, Marc Peiser, Lino
, Frantisek Vizner and Toots Zynsky. Should be fantastic.

Lino Tagliapietra, Batman, 1998


3. Houston Center for Contemporary Craft‘s show Hot Glass, Cool Collections closes March 15.  HCCC curator Gwynne Ruckenbrod put it together from 12 glass collections in Houston. Many of the same aforementioned artists are in this show.
(Full disclosure: Glasstire is a media sponsor for the closing party of these exhibitions.)

Toots Zynsky, Jealous Chaos, 1998. Fused and slumped colored-glass threads. Photo by Matt Smith.


installation view


Lisajoy Sachs and Scott Wolfson, Clear Pod


The issue of scale with some of these artworks was interesting. I thought this flower cube by Paul Stankard would have been fairly big:

But it was paperweight-sized in person:


Conversely, Pablo Soto‘s Moire Forms looked about the size of regular glassware in their press image:


Pablo Soto, Moire Forms, 2008. Blown Glass. Filigrana Cane technique. Photo by Tom Mills.


But in person, they’re huge:

(no, this is not forced perspective)


Soto’s work is in Environments = Form + Space, a smaller show at HCCC that features three emerging glass artists: Matthew Eskuche, Amy Rueffert and Soto.

Eskuche makes carefully crafted copies of trash, including handmade beer bottle reproductions. His was the only work to explore the dark side of glass: the heavy, ubiquitous commodity that is costly to ship and sits in landfills for millennia. But his precious glass copies of crushed plastic cups can’t escape being beautiful, at the end of the day:


More Matthew Eskuche


4. Hooks-Epstein Gallery has a show of José Chardiet and Paul Schwieder that runs through March 21.




In their office, they’ve got things again by the aforementioned big studio glass stars:


detail of the red and black Toots Zynsky


5. Finally, at the South Texas Institute for the Arts down in Corpus Christi, GlassWear: Glass in Contemporary Jewelry is up through March 29. The show comes from the Museum of Art and Design via the Toledo Museum of Art, which is known for its outstanding glass collection.

Installation view at STIA
(image: Todd Yates for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times)

While we’re on the topic, I should send a shout-out to Houston Studio Glass, a wonderful space run by Dick Moiel and Kathy Poeppel, a couple who make glass, host demonstrations and work with visiting and local artists. 




christine February 21, 2009 - 15:47

It’s great that there’s still a flowing number of art shows even with this poor economy. I also noticed that there are a growing number of websites that deal with artists displaying their work online. One site that caught my eye was http://www.mysoiree.net. I think a lot of artists are now turning to the growing medium of the internet to show and sell their work to consumers.

Eric D February 22, 2009 - 07:29

Let’s not forget the impressive new show at Hooks-Epstein Galleries on Colquitt featuring new work by Jose Chardiet and Paul Schwieder.

Rainey February 22, 2009 - 09:24

Thank you! I went out yesterday and shot the Hooks-Epstein and the HCCC shows. See updates above.

Sinaca February 26, 2009 - 22:57

I saw Sean Albert’s work for the first time at the Glass Art Society conference last year. Like so much glass art it has to be seen in person to really appreciate.

This is a great site – glad I found it!
Paul Tarlow
Helios Kiln Glass Studio (Austin)


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