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Raven Skyriver | featured June 2-16 2018 | Nature in Glass | A Delicate Balance |

“Raven Skykriver’s glass sculptures immerse us in nature, allowing us to contemplate our mortality and encouraging us to change our way of being in the world.”

 

Raven Skyriver also brings awareness to the fragility of the ecosystem and the risk of endangerment in his breathtaking glass animals. Icons of the Pacific Northwest such as whales, tortoises, seals, and salmon feature prominently in his vocabulary, along with ancient shelled creatures and undulant octopuses. He expertly manipulates glass to express different textures—soft mat seal fur, rough patchy tortoise skin, glistening chromatophore’s cells, iridescent carapaces. Skyriver’s glorious creatures capture a panoply of forms and colors as diverse as marine life itself.

Raven Skyriver, Descent,2017, Off hand sculpted glass, 30 x 13 x 35″

Though Skyriver consults reference books and deliberately plans the shapes and coloration of each sculpture to achieve naturalistic accuracy, he also distills each creature to its essence and relishes the whimsical accidents of glass that can augment a piece. Skyriver suggests swimming bodies in their native marine habitat by giving the sculptures fluid movements reminiscent of real life—stretched necks and expansive flippers pushing through the water, arcing backs diving under the surface, waving tentacles riding the ripples.

Raven Skyriver, Adrift, 2017,  Off hand sculpted glass, 27 x 29 x 20″

The inherent viscosity of glass, its ability to morph in shape and color, and its seeming weightlessness as light filters through and around it, make it the ideal instrument for Skyriver. Though he originally did functional pieces in the traditional Venetian style, it is through working with glass that he has found his artistic voice. For him, there is great joy in making beautiful renditions of animals, bringing awareness to, and helping safeguard, the creatures with whom we share our planet. There is also great passion for both the medium of glass, an intriguing substance with many characteristics to learn and cultivate, and the process of glassmaking, a team effort that allows him to collaborate with creative talents.

Leviathan, 2018, Off hand sculpted glass 38 x 9 x 24″

Raven Skykriver’s glass sculptures immerse us in nature, allowing us to contemplate our mortality and encouraging us to change our way of being in the world. Humans cannot halt, but in fact will eventually be folded into, the inevitable circle of life. But humans do have a choice if they want to be forces of destruction or agents of preservation. 

Chinlook 2018 (detail), off hand sculpted glass. 30 x 8 x 19”

Kelly O’ Dell | featured June 2-16 2018 | Nature in Glass | A Delicate Balance |

“O’Dell’s glass pieces memorialize nature’s lost glories, endeavor to forestall future destruction, and contemplate the universal life cycle of life, death, and renewal.”

Veneration of nature defines glass artist Kelly O’Dell. O’Dell was raised in Hawaii, where the arts (her parents had a stained and furnace glass studio in their home) and the lush environment were woven into her upbringing. Kelly O’Dell sees nature in the long view—its far-reaching past, its captivating present, and its precarious future. Just as the phenomena of past millennia are written in the planet today, the actions of the present create ripples going forward. The Ammonite was a coiled cephalopod that became extinct 65 million years ago when a comet hit the earth near the Yucatan peninsula, altering the weather dramatically and making most life unsustainable. Exquisite shells were left behind, empty homes to animals no longer alive, embedding their intricate patterns in the earth. O’Dell mimics these fossilized impressions in panels, liquid glass melting like a massive glacier, suspending shell slices in perpetuity. Exposed anatomy is writ in delicately blown and sculptured turquoise, maroon, and golden glass, shapes juxtaposed with one another in elegant formations such as butterfly wings.

Kelly O’Dell, (R)evolutions: Chorus, 2017, Sculpted, cut, and cast glass, decal inclusions, gold leaf. Glass optic bricks rotate on stand, moveable by hand.

In other work, O’Dell revives the Ammonite in glorious dimensions. Glass is blown in varying thicknesses, carved to move light effortlessly through the helix-like form. With her sumptuous palette—at times opaque and creamy, at times delicately transparent, at times dusted with luster—the work blends realism with an aura of fantasy. O’Dell brings this amalgam of scientific accuracy and artistic license to endangered sea creatures of today such as coral, concerned that human impact on the natural world will mimic history’s astronomical disasters. The viewer’s eye dances around the craggy textures, milky colors, and clustered forms of her coral, compelling us to protect this threatened species. Themes of extinction and preservation invariably reflect back on the self and our own mortality; O’Dell’s glass pieces memorialize nature’s lost glories, endeavor to forestall future destruction, and contemplate the universal life cycle of life, death, and renewal.

Kelly O’Dell, Arora, 2017, blown, sculpted glass, carved by Ethan Stern, 10 x 7 x 10″

PAUL STANKARD | featured June 2-16 2018 | Nature in Glass | A Delicate Balance |

Elaborate and exquisite colors, patterns, and systems make nature a marvel of design. Abundance and majesty make it a source of inspiration and tranquility. Its continuum of birth, death, and renewal make it a symbol of life’s transience and mortality’s inevitability. Nature strikes a delicate balance between strength and fragility, sometimes stalwart against, sometimes victim to, the folly of humanity. Nature strikes a delicate balance between the seen and the unseen, sometimes displaying its glories proudly, sometimes teeming imperceptibly beneath the surface. Artists who take inspiration from nature inherently understand these qualities and act as stewards, honoring and preserving our planet.  

Paul Stankard, Emily Dickinson’s Garden Secrets, 2018, 3.5625 x 2.8125 x 2.8125″

“…metaphors for the sacred life cycle of creation and destruction”

Though Paul Stankard graduated from vocational school and worked various jobs in industrial glass early in his career, his creative side loved artistic things like poetry, and the wildflowers of his native rural Massachusetts. One of his favorite Walt Whitman quotes says that “the narrowest hinge of my hand puts the scorn on all machinery.” It is an apt description for someone who transitioned from mechanical work to fine art so successfully. He was drawn to the floral paperweights of 19th century France and present for the revival of this art in southern New Jersey in the mid-20th century. One of its finest practitioners, Francis Whittemore, happened to be Stankard’s factory supervisor. The two loved to talk about this common interest, though Whittemore shared few insights on his methods of production. So, Stankard applied the glassmaking techniques learned on the job to years of self-study in the art of paperweights to become a pioneer in the field of flameworking.

Paul Stankard, Cluster of Bulbous Forms: Flower, Bud, Honeybee and Figures, 4″ diameter (approximate)

Stankard’s process—using a torch with pincers, pliers, and other tools to precisely manipulate colorful, thin rods of glass—is about more than just making things. It is a spiritual exercise that brings the artist closer to the essence of nature. The monastic notion of laborare est orare (to labor is to pray) guides Stankard to see the miraculous in the ordinary. Diminutive and detailed meditations, his paperweights display not only a flower’s elegant countenance but the brimming underbelly beneath the soil, paying homage to what Stankard has termed “the mystery of unseen energy and the fecundity of nature.”

Paul Stankard, Cluster of Purple Pineland Pickerel Weed with Fruit, Honeybees and Walt Whitman Portrait Cane, 4″ Diameter (approximate)

Realism in his botanicals (carefully sculpted petals, pistils and stamens, and lovingly rendered insects) is coupled with mysticism and imagination (roots that morph into people and mosaic canes spelling words like “seed” or “wet” embedded in the design). The works are simultaneously referential to the idea of what a flower can be, and metaphors for the sacred life cycle of creation and destruction. Hot, viscous glass fills the crevices like dripping honey, crystallizing in the surrounding orb and creating a reverential memento mori in permanent suspension.

Detail with Walt Whitman Portrait Cane

SCHANTZ GALLERIES NOW REPRESENTING JAMES CARPENTER

STOCKBRIDGE, MA: Schantz Galleries is now representing commissioned architectural installations and gallery scale works by artist and designer James Carpenter. Carpenter brings over 40 years of experience and a rare synthesis of skills at the intersection of art, engineering, and the built environment. Through this partnership with Schantz Galleries, Carpenter will bring his design concepts (known for large-scale projects such as the exterior envelope and lobby of 7 World Trade Center Tower, the renewed campus of the Israel Museum, and the Gucci Asia Headquarters in Tokyo), to smaller scale residencies and spaces. In a private home, gallery, or small-scale public pavilion, Carpenter’s work allows for the play of light with the gathered image of the view out the windows, creating a unique awareness of the site’s surroundings. Carpenter says they offer a “playfulness and optical concentration of the view beyond. Essentially they offer a new way to read our world in an intimate and tactile way.”

James Carpenter, Immersive Field, Hand blown rondels and anodized aluminum, 37.625 x 37.625 x 6″

Carpenter has also noted that “designing buildings is not the normal terrain for a sculptor, but sculpture establishes a more human connection by engaging the phenomenological qualities of its environment. And here light is what I use, deploying my knowledge of materials to create a profound experience of place.” Carpenter believes that natural light and glass are the primary components of the built environment; transformation of the urban environment and public realm occurs as Carpenter carefully considers each site to exploit the performative aspects of light through glass. A dialogue is created between interior and exterior space, merging the beauty of the natural environment with the aesthetics of the structured world.

 

 

Born in Washington D.C. and raised in New England, Carpenter graduated with a degree in sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design in 1972. He was also a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He planned to study architecture at RISD but discovered the sculpture studio and the work of glass artist Dale Chihuly, then a teacher there. Chihuly and Carpenter collaborated on a series of neon-light sculptures, and Carpenter also went on to teach at RISD. Carpenter continued making light-based installations while also serving as a consultant at Corning Glass, where he developed new glass materials including photo-responsive glasses and glass ceramics for architectural applications. In 1979, Carpenter established James Carpenter Design Associates (JCDA), as cross-disciplinary firm working on large-scale art, architecture, and engineering projects.

 

Image: Immersive Field, private collection.

This Rondel Screen incorporates hand blown rondels, each unique lens (detail below) encapsulated within an identical frame consisting of anodized aluminum and etched glass front clear glass back. This serial approach in a lenticular device can be arranged in response to its location, orchestrating variations of a singular exterior view. Three individual rondels, titled Immersive Field, are now on display at the Schantz Galleries.

The recently completed Glass Gallery for the Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, where an old machine shop was renovated and an all glass entry vestibule of cast glass was added. We would love to think about smaller pavilions or gallery spaces for our collectors as well.

Contact the gallery for more information or to request a copy of the catalog.

 

 

 

Bertil Vallien at FORM Miami | December 6-10, 2017

“…knowing the exact moment at which to capture a shift of light or expression and wrench the secret from the glass is what it is all about.”

Bertil Vallien, Map IV, 2017, Cast glass, 20.27 x 16.53 x 3.14″

MIAMI, FL: From the Crystal Kingdom in Sweden to the FORM Miami Exhibition, comes this exhibition of Bertil Vallien’s signature sand-cast glass works reflecting the artist’s thoughtful exploration of the multi-faceted relationship of the human journey. Vallien will also be traveling to attend the show.

Bertil Vallien’s focus on looking inward is achieved in myriad ways, one of which is his unique glassmaking technique. A leader in the Swedish glass industry for more than 40 years, Vallien formulated his own method for casting glass in sand that creates depth and radiance in the material. Artworks are driven not by their final appearance—although their visual impact is stunning—but rather by their content. Vallien’s preparatory sketches are carefully considered blueprints of both the external form and the inner details. Layers—both physical and psychological—are created through a multistep process. Surface textures result from the imprint of objects placed on the walls of the mold, which are also dusted with powdered metal oxides to release color. As the molten glass is poured into the mold, Vallien incorporates a variety of objects from sheet metal and glass threads, to figures and other colored forms. Once the glass cools, the suspended animation reveals itself in full glory. Light reflects off the brilliant surfaces and assorted angles of the perimeter, but more dramatically it emanates from within.

Vallien has said that “knowing the exact moment at which to capture a shift of light or expression and wrench the secret from the glass is what it is all about.” Just as his technical approach unearths internal “secrets,” so his visual motifs are explorations of the subconscious. The artist is motivated by various things—from stories he hears on the news, to people he has met, to his religious upbringing and questions about faith, to wars both historical and contemporary. Despite these concrete inspirations, the work is not meant to pose facile questions with prescribed answers. Umberto Eco wrote “I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret is as though it had an underlying truth.” Vallien’s art embraces this idea, transforming the events and experiences that inspire him into universal archetypes and symbols, upon which viewers layer their own perspectives. A shifting “truth” is created when two spirits—that of the artist and that of the viewer—coalesce. Through both physical expression and symbolic associations, Vallien senses the world from the inside out and opens this channel of experience to his viewer. Definitive answers become unnecessary, and an enlightened, empathetic, and open-minded ethos rises.

If You Go:
December 6-10,  Bertil Vallien, FORM
The artist will be present.

 

 

CHIHULY BASKETS: CELEBRATING FORTY YEARS

“Baskets was the first series that I did that really took advantage of the molten properties of the glassblowing process. Now, for the first time, I really felt I was breaking new ground with an ancient technique.”

 

For many celebrated artists, the path to creative achievement is gradual, studied, and often plagued by self-doubt. David Galenson, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and the author of Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity (2007) calls these people “experimental innovators.” On the opposite end of this spectrum are what Galenson terms “conceptual innovators”—those whose brilliance arrives in a relative blaze, at a fairly early age, disrupting convention. Dale Chihuly is a conceptual innovator whose Baskets were a flashpoint for his originality. Forty years later, he is still a leader of the avant-garde and prodigious creative force, and the Baskets remain vital in the fascinating arc of his career.

Dale Chihuly, The Boathouse hotshop Seattle, 1993

Dale Chihuly had a meaningful encounter with traditional Northwest Indian basketry in 1977, during a visit to the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. He was a young vanguard in the field of glass (he had become the head of the glass program at Rhode Island School of Design and co-founded the Pilchuck School of Glass in Washington by age 30). Chihuly was enthralled by how time had transformed the woven baskets into bowed and slumping objects. This touchpoint precipitated a breakthrough not only in Chihuly’s forms but also in his techniques for achieving them. He harnessed the interconnected powers of heat, gravity, centrifugal force, breath, and glass to achieve impossible thinness and dynamic asymmetry. Chihuly has stated: “Baskets was the first series that I did that really took advantage of the molten properties of the glassblowing process. Now, for the first time, I really felt I was breaking new ground with an ancient technique.”

His earliest Baskets, such as his 1979 Tabac Basket Set with Oxblood Jimmies, are daring and seemingly effortless. Like an alchemist Chihuly uncouples form from function and instead forges undulant containers of hue and luminosity. The muted palette reminiscent of Native American baskets defines the early work but is also an enduring muse. The extraordinary forms of Tabac Basket with Drawing Shards and Oxblood Body Wraps (2008) are like feats of Art Nouveau architecture writ in glass. This series is done in natural fiber tones akin to the objects that informed them, but the native formline design of the baskets is abstracted in Chihuly’s hand.

Tabac Basket Set with Oxblood Jimmies, 1979, 6 x 14 x 14″

These forty years of Baskets are not a linear progression, wherein one builds upon the next until superiority is achieved; rather they are collection of transcendent moments through time.

While some works have maintained an aesthetic affiliation with the baskets Chihuly saw in the 1970s, others are merely kindred spirits. Jasper Black Basket Set with Red Lip Wraps (2000) revels in the drama of the color black; opaque obsidian is complemented by deep blues and shimmering violets, sheathed in a sanguine red. Six nested containers produce a panoply of shapes and crevices where light is absorbed and refracted by the lustrous surfaces. With the recent Golden Sapphire Basket Set with Midnight Blue Lip Wraps (2017), Chihuly continues to push the limits of the material. The outer vessel is turned on its side—its form part basket part sea creature, variegated blues dancing around the cresting and plunging contours. Nested inside this frame, six unique forms coalesce in a masterpiece of blown glass, the splendid blues enhanced by peeks of golden yellow.

Jasper Black Basket Set with Red Lip Wraps, 2000, 6 x 13 x 13″

Entwined with the narrative of the Baskets are Chihuly’s drawings, in which we see the artist’s instinctive and spontaneous creativity most viscerally. In a medium not bound by gravity, design elements can be liberated from their surfaces, nested forms emancipated, circles need not close. Not studies for specific works, the gestural drawings express Chihuly’s big ideas to both his glassblowing team and his viewers. Then, as if the works on paper could shatter like glass into “shards,” details from the drawings become design elements of the Baskets themselves, exemplifying the creative loop that characterizes Dale Chihuly.

Pablo Picasso once said that “to search means nothing in painting. To find is the thing.” Such a prophetic statement could only usher from a true conceptual innovator, one who inspired a paradigmatic shift in art-making without seeming like it was any effort at all. Dale Chihuly has done the same for modern studio art glass, and the Baskets are the bellwether of this movement. Chihuly’s magic is intangible and unmistakable—a mix of technical genius, limitless imagination, fearlessness, experimentation, and an unfailing eye for the beautiful.

Jeanne Koles is an independent museum professional with a focus on cultural communications.

Golden Sapphire Basket Set with Midnight Blue Lip Wraps, 2017 (detail), 19 x 22 x 22″

 

Master of Beauty | Lino Tagliapietra

To behold Lino Tagliapietra’s glass art is to perceive pure beauty, inspired by the magnificence of the artist’s surroundings, travels, and experiences. In his 1753 volume Analysis of Beauty, English painter and writer William Hogarth (1697-1764) laid out the six principles that affect our perception of beauty: fitness (fitting parts of a whole elegantly together); variety (blending shapes and colors harmoniously); uniformity (balancing symmetry with shifting perspectives); simplicity (discarding superfluous elements); intricacy (leading the eye with thoughtful composition); and quantity (inspiring awe through grandness). Hogarth’s ground-breaking tome also described the serpentine “line of beauty,” an s-shaped curve used in art that awakens the viewer and is pleasing to behold. Flawlessly orchestrating all six of Hogarth’s tenets and deftly employing the “line of beauty,” each work by Tagliapietra beguiles the viewer, transporting them to a place of unadulterated grace.

The Fenice series epitomizes the lively allure of the curving line. Impossibly elongated pulls of glass twist dynamically through the air. Hot reds give way to fiery oranges, which cool to deep blues, manifesting the myriad colors of flame as the glass phoenix rises. The interplay of curves in the installation of three Fenice works reveals myriad expressions as the viewer moves around the piece. Equally in the Dinosaur works, a sense of infinity defies their physical boundaries. The magnificence of the extinct beasts are expressed, softened through graceful bends in their necks and modernized through the graphic patterns of the glass. A repetition of circles plays delightfully against the kaleidoscopic swathes of color that surround the surfaces.

The graceful arcing forms of the Forcola works are also enhanced by undulating layers of design. Concentric circles—in some cases from a single color family, in others from complimentary hues—stretch like taffy to reveal the exquisite patterns inlaid in the glass. So named because their shape artfully recalls the rowlocks of Venetian gondolas, the Forcola works—like so many by Tagliapietra—expressively celebrate a place of affection for the artist.

Geography has had a considerable influence on the artist, who has traveled the world extensively to work and teach; each location leaves its mark on his soul and in his work. Recalling woven African baskets in form and pattern, the globular Africa vase sits nimbly on a narrow foot and revels in a vibrant, jewel-like palette. Rippled “lines of beauty” wind their way up the vase in both directions, culminating in a vivid blue lip of gently waving canes. The rolling swells of a sand dune are captured in the intricate Sahara, its amber coloring punctuated by an azure oasis. Like the blue sea that gives way to the volcano for which they are named, the Stromboli works erupt with cascading cerulean lava, punctuated by frenetic green swirls and daubs of crimson.

Just as Tagliapietra brings a unique perspective to the places he visits by rendering them abstractly in glass, so he brings his forward-looking ideology to artistic traditions. A long-lost glass making technique using avventurine glass is reborn in Tagliapietra’s hands. In a triumph of alchemy, suspended metal in the glass infuses the material with shimmering luster. Hogarth wrote that “simplicity gives beauty even to variety.” In the Avventurine works, minimal and classical shapes are brilliantly juxtaposed with a mosaic of swirling, sparkling designs.

Whether by the 18th century standards of a thinker like Hogarth, or by modern codes, Lino Tagliapietria is a master of beauty. To combine centuries-old traditions with contemporary explorations of the medium, to pay homage to the intimate places he knows and the faraway worlds he has visited, and to do so with such an inherent understanding of what makes things beautiful—this is a true gift. Tagliapietra’s sumptuously articulated forms and dazzling designs are masterfully balanced yet playful. A “line of beauty” unfurls in front of our eyes in each work and in the body of work as a whole. 

CAST, CUT and COLD October 2017

 

Karsten Oaks in the Cold Shop.

Glass is an amazing medium. Whether in front of a furnace or a grinding wheel, the nature of the glass allows it to be formed by who holds it and the only limit to its potential is the imagination, and of course the technical acumen of the maker. It must be the only medium from which so any different artistic techniques can be used, and so many uses are yet to be discovered. Out of necessity and the inherent nature of the medium, working with hot glass is a quicker process than when it is cast or cold worked; as a result, much of the available glass is hot glass. Because it is not quite as mesmerizing as glass blowing, and it is so time consuming to make, many people do not realize that cold working can take months for one piece. Realistic, abstract, simple, or complex sculptures may be realized through these process’. This October, Schantz Galleries features works by artists whose work is Cast, Cut and Cold.

 

 

 

Memories and Dreams | the Art of Bertil Vallien

Imagine a world where we experienced things from the inside out. Imagine if our first impression was of something’s essence, and it was only through closer looking that we distinguished its external qualities. Would our self-awareness evolve and our empathy for others expand? Would we be more attune to the commonalities of our shared living experience, more sympathetic to things we do not understand, less concerned with solving life’s mysteries and more content living within them?

 

 

The art of Bertil Vallien guides us through this journey of interiority and is as reflective, thoughtful and, ultimately as magical, as human nature itself. Vallien’s focus on looking inward is achieved in myriad ways, one of which is his unique glassmaking technique. A leader in the Swedish glass industry for more than 40 years, Vallien formulated his own method for casting glass in sand that creates depth and radiance in the material. Artworks are driven not by their final appearance—although their visual impact is stunning—but rather by their content. Vallien’s preparatory sketches are carefully considered blueprints of both the external form and the inner details. Layers—both physical and psychological—are created through a multistep process. Surface textures result from the imprint of objects placed on the walls of the mold, which are also dusted with powdered metal oxides to release color. As the molten glass is poured into the mold, Vallien incorporates a variety of objects from sheet metal and glass threads, to figures and other colored forms. Once the glass cools, the suspended animation reveals itself in full glory. Light reflects off the brilliant surfaces and assorted angles of the perimeter, but more dramatically it emanates from within.  

Vallien has said that “knowing the exact moment at which to capture a shift of light or expression and wrench the secret from the glass is what it is all about.” Just as his technical approach unearths internal “secrets,” so his visual motifs are explorations of the subconscious. The artist is motivated by various things—from stories he hears on the news, to people he has met, to his religious upbringing and questions about faith, to wars both historical and contemporary. Despite these concrete inspirations, the work is not meant to pose facile questions with prescribed answers. Umberto Eco wrote “I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret is as though it had an underlying truth.” Vallien’s art embraces this idea, transforming the events and experiences that inspire him into universal archetypes and symbols, upon which viewers layer their own perspectives. A shifting “truth” is created when two spirits—that of the artist and that of the viewer—coalesce. 

Today, the path to profound understanding of the world around us is often hampered by the anxieties of contemporary living. Our quest to understand our fellow man is fraught with difficult existential questions brought on by chaos, war, and unsettling socio-political situations. Vallien’s series of works inspired by Franz Kafka pay homage to a visionary 20th century author who mingled realism and fantasy, and whose protagonists struggled through surrealistic circumstances in search of salvation. In Kafka III, a golden figure is trapped in an ashen cave that is part primitive spearhead part wire barrier system. His aura struggles to overcome the harsh cage, glimpses of his gilded light cleaving the surface. 

Kafka III,  by Bertil Vallien

One series of works by Vallien was inspired by an aerial photograph of a bombed out village in northern Iraq that he saw in a newspaper. Much has been destroyed in the commission of war, from homes to lives to ancient cultural treasures. Abode II is an imagined archaeological excavation of a post-apocalyptic world, where the earth is turned inside out, its soul exposed and its ability to safely house man thrown into limbo. Landed IV is a hybrid milieu of runic designs, emerging earthly elements, and modern shiny architecture—all presided over by a white flag of surrender.

Landed IV, 2017

The Roman God Janus, the god of transition, gateways, and duality, oversaw the beginning and end of conflict; the doors of his temple would be open in times of war and close to mark the onset of peace. He also opened and closed heaven’s doors, his two faces simultaneously administering over both the past and the future. Vallien’s Janus sculptures have rough-hewn stone-like carved facades on one side and smooth transparent arcs on the reverse, within which images of closed-eye faces are suspended in the glass. This interest in the transitory nature of life has also inspired Vallien’s boat works. The elegant Apostroph II also reflects a sense of adventure and the more winsome side of exploring the unknown. Vallien has written that he makes boats “that sink through memories and dreams, [that] require not latitudes to navigate by; they steer towards the horizon of imagination.” He encourages his various travelers (and by association, us) to “put his trust in the delicate skin that separates him from the unknown.”

Janus Y, 2017

Franz Kafka lamented “how pathetically scanty my self-knowledge is compared with, say, my knowledge of my room. There is no such thing as observation of the inner world, as there is of the outer world.” Kafka may in some ways be an intellectual forbear for Vallien, but to this philosophical perspective the artist brings an innate ability to ruminate on the inner world, both for himself and his viewer. The dualities of this world are nimbly unveiled in the work: dark and light; past and future; rough and smooth; light and heavy. Through both physical expression and symbolic associations, Vallien senses the world from the inside out and opens up this channel of experience to his viewer. Definitive answers become unnecessary, and an enlightened, empathetic, and open-minded ethos rises up.
—Jeanne V.  Koles for Schantz Galleries, Stockbridge, MA







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