Distinctions in Glass
Distinctions in Glass | Bremers, Janecký, Shimomoto
Distinction can be defined both as a contrast between similar things, and an excellence that sets one thing apart from another. Two discrete meanings for the same word, yet both meanings apply easily to the glass work of the three artists—Peter Bremers, Harue Shimomoto, and Martin Janecký—featured in this exhibition. This gathering of three unique artists highlights the diversity of technique, form, and aesthetic which glass allows the maker. Bremers creates monumental cast glass sculptures—abstract, monochrome references to landscape and space. Shimomoto weaves glass threads into sculptural tapestries, employing clean lines to capture the essence of nature. Janecký is a modern-day Augustus Saint-Gaudens who sculpts molten glass into naturalistic, emotive busts and figures. Their commonality—a gift for manipulating this malleable material into astonishing works of art that elevate the viewer beyond the banal of the everyday.
Peter Bremers was an established light sculptor when he stumbled upon a glassblowing workshop in his native Netherlands, inspiring a journey of discovery in using glass to capture and bend light. The artist sculpts a model out of a dense foam block. By using the kiln cast method, the model is transformed into glass. He is well known for his awesome glass icebergs, inspired by a voyage to Antarctica in 2001, which bridge the psychic gap between humans and the natural world. He masterfully captures nature’s magnificence in flawless glass microcosms, bringing us intimately in tune with nature by kindling our sense of wonder and smallness around her majesty.
17 x 12.5 x 5.8"
cast glass, 15 x 16.7 x 5.6"
17.5 x 12 x 6"
Bremers work in this exhibition turns the journey inward with metaphysical cogitations on space that offer a healing salve in a disconnected and anxious world. Bremers takes the interplay of positive and negative space—an element inherent in our physical experience of three-dimensional sculpture—and extends it in a metaphoric direction. He brings negative space into the sculpture in the form of holes and hollow sections; visible through an outer transparent shell of glass, their volume constantly shifts as the light flows through. These studies of space are monochromatic meditations on form and light—at times intricately faceted, gracefully arched, softly geometric, languidly amorphous. Eloquent descriptors such as Circumscribed, Honey Sweet, Illusional, Optical, Sensuous, and Connected title these “spaces,” signposts that encourage our understanding of Bremer’s artistic intention. Of this series, the artist has written, “Finding ourselves in a time of increasingly negative perception of everyday news events and an overall rising feeling of being unsafe in a world of religious, political, and social divisiveness, we may forget to focus on the possibilities and comfort offered by positive action and attitude. Positive space symbolizes tolerance, appreciation, hope, and opportunity.”
While Bremers articulates the grand physical phenomena of nature, artist Harue Shimomoto relishes in its small gestures and broad strokes. Diaphanous curtains of glass express abstract notions—weather shifting with the seasons, light morphing throughout the day, leaves changing their hue, air circling a pond, fields blowing in the wind. Simple colors and forms mingle in a complex but soothing mesh of layered glass rods. Illusionistic depth emerges as Shimomoto deftly wields positive and negative sculptural space and carefully handles light and shadow, distilling moments into shimmering immersive impressions. Like with Bremers, Shimomoto’s work goes beyond mere physical exploration, becoming a meditative journey that holds tightly to the impermanence of fragile moments and shifts the viewer’s gaze beyond the tangible.
fused glass, stainless steel wire, pigment, epoxy, metal hooks,
51 x 37 x 7"
(Sun Spring Light)
fused glass, stainless steel wire, pigment, epoxy, metal hooks, 36 x 36 x 7"
Fused glass, stainless steel wire, pigment, epoxy, silver leaf, metal hooks, 36 x 36 x 7"
Shimomoto was born in Japan and received her BFA from Tokyo’s Musashino Art University, then came to the United States to get her MFA, settling afterwards in Rhode Island. Simplicity and ephemerality have a storied tradition in the Japanese aesthetic, a way of being that Shimomoto embodies, but also one from which she diverges. There is a quiet strength to her work—in its construction but more so it in its message—that makes her a unique amalgam. She has said: “I do not want the viewer to be too conscious of the glass. I almost believe that glass itself is too beautiful to be a medium. Many people see glass as functional object or decorative material. I want to break these images of glass and give it a different quality. Therefore, I am careful to make my work stronger than my medium.”
15.75 x 12 x 11.75"
approx. 27.5" h on stand
Martin Janecký is a master handler of the medium of glass, coaxing impossibly naturalistic figures and animals out of the material. Janecký was born to be a glassmaker, working in his father’s glass factory in the Czech Republic beginning at the age of 13. He likes to say “I didn’t pick glass, glass picked me.” After graduating from the glass school Nový Bor, he embarked on a path that has taken him to glass programs all over the world as a visiting artist and instructor to over 600 students a year. Teaching has been accompanied by endless learning, the time to formulate and hone his personal aesthetic, and the opportunity to push and perfect his innovative glass molding technique.
By “sculpting inside the bubble,” (blowing the basic bubble, then opening a hole and molding it with different tools from both the inside and the outside), Janecký achieves extraordinary realism and startling detail in his faces. Nooks, crevices, lines, and protuberances gradually emerge, a map of human emotion drawn in glass, radiating from within as is from a living, feeling soul. When asked about the meaning of his work, he has said: “I make things which fascinate me—not just from the workmanship point of view—I try to give them an expression. I don’t want to make just a realistic portrait. I want to capture feelings and emotions.” The external calm of the artist as he deliberately and slowly works the material belies his own creative mind—active, passionate, always seeking challenge.
A distinctive characteristic of glass as a medium is that it responds to challenge, yields to the vision of the passionate artist and skilled technician. A simple set of ingredients heated together to molten consistency, pushed, blown, poured, shaped, colored, etched, and altered in ways as myriad as the imagination can conjure. Peter Bremers, Harue Shimomoto, and Martin Janecký demonstrate the breadth of the physical and creative possibilities of glass because each brings deep devotion to the art, a unique ability to work with the material, and a drive to explore new experiences in glass.
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.
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
PETER BREMERS | Earth Dialogue – a collaborative exhibit
Marcel Proust wrote that “the real voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” As a way of seeing through new eyes, Schantz Galleries and Sohn Fine Art present a premier collaboration between the two Berkshire art galleries, as well as with two highly regarded artists working in different mediums. Earth Dialogue features over twenty sculptures in glass by Peter Bremers created between 2007 to 2016 and never before seen photographs by Seth Resnick.
Peter Bremers, The Last Iceberg, 2015, 34.5 x 32 x 6″
In his recent series, Inward Journey, Bremers’ embodies Proust’s assertion that through new experiences we receive “new eyes.” Instead of reflecting an earthly trip, the Inward Journey pieces travel to a mystical, inner space. These objects “pay tribute to mankind and our never ending journey to a deeper understanding of oneself and each other, seeking a harmonious and purposeful life on our planet.” While Bremers’ sculptures often achieve an impressive feeling of place—whether icy-blue glaciers or russet-red rocks—his goal is not to merely show us how something looks. His recent metaphorical works prove him to be more than a landscape artist. Instead, he evokes awe, both literal and spiritual. Through his insightful representation of Earth’s most majestic and precarious spaces, Bremers instills an elevated sense of responsibility for its preservation.
Seth Resnick, Blue Iceberg, in the Scotia Sea in Antarctica
With his camera, Resnick has an in depth conversation with the Earth that surrounds him. Resnick wants his viewers to see his photographs as an opportunity to consider the larger, unseen realities that contribute to the energy and uniqueness of his subjects. “For me it is all about the patterns of waves from water, ice and sand and I find them mesmerizing. My images are a journey into the personal space of my subject.”
Peter Bremers, Waves, 2015 24 x 9.6 x 5.2″
On exhibit in both locations, the works are expected to create a dialogue about the natural world that transcends medium. The artists share a similar aesthetic and vision, as both are masters of light; and both have experienced and endeavored to depict the sublimity encountered in nature, from the Antarctic icebergs to desert canyons. Capturing these moments in time, and continuing the dialogue for the earth, has probably never been more important than now.
Sohn Fine Art is located nearby at 69 Church Street, Lenox MA. www.sohnfineart.com
To view a catalog of works by Peter Bremers, click the link below, or view available works here.
Classical, Native and Pop Culture in Glass
Karl Marx wrote in 1845 that “only in community with others has each individual the means of cultivating his gifts in all directions.” The interconnectedness of Richard Marquis, Dante Marioni, and Preston Singletary, cultivated throughout the years, has not created a vacuum of homogeneity in glass. Rather, as these three distinct artists demonstrate, the community of glass has given each individual the “means of cultivating his gift in all directions.”
Richard Marquis, Whole Elk Tower with Manikins, 2015. Blown glass,murrine whole elk technique,found objects, 17.5 x 19 x 13″
Schantz Galleries is pleased to present an exhibition of works by three contemporary artists working in glass. Having worked together on and off over the past 30 years, and maintained a friendship, the three men are each masters of their techniques and have developed extremely different thematic concerns over the years. Each in their own time has studied and then taught their specialized techniques.
Richard Marquis, Setter Head Bottle Vehicle, 2016. Glass: hot slab construction, cast glass, wood, and brass. 7 x 18 x 7″
With over 50 years of experience and a sophisticated understanding of material, color, and form, Richard Marquis balances his training and scrupulous artistic integrity with the playfulness and capacious spirit of an upstart, full of original notions just waiting to burst out in creative action. Simultaneously ironic yet refined, silly yet smart, eclectic yet recognizable, Marquis is nothing if not totally, authentically himself. In part, Marquis’ style emerged from 1960s California funk (he got his B.A. and M.A. from U.C. Berkeley), a counter-movement to east coast Minimalism fusing, among other things, pop-culture, a cartoon aesthetic, and the use of found objects.
Dante Marioni, Leaf Vessels, 2016. Blown glass, greatest height is 42″
Dante Marioni grew up in the thick of the studio art glass movement and first met Marquis when he was 7. When Marioni got into glass as a teen, he felt disconnected with what he called the “loose and free-form” aesthetic that characterized the movement in the 1970s. He has said that “over the course of my career I have been consumed mostly with forms—that is, making interesting shapes. As a glass blower, I have always considered that to be my primary challenge.”
Preston Singletary, Supernatural Being, 2016. 13 x 12 x 12″
Preston Singletary uses glass a means of understanding, and sharing, his Tlingit heritage in the context of modern society. He explains that he compares “my current notion of society with that of my ancestors, intuiting ideas and concepts in glass, referencing my connection to my Tribe, my clan and my family. My influences range from Indigenous art around the world to the glass-blowing process, modernist sculpture, design and music.” Though he considered a career in music, he realized that glass-making gave him a purpose and a responsibility, to “interpret the codes and symbols of the land in a new way.”
Preston Singletary, Tlingit Shelf Baskets, 2015. Blown and sand carved glass, greatest height is 8.75″
The unique cultures of the Pacific Northwest, both past and present, encourage friendship, a sharing of ideas, and cooperative efforts. This is certainly true of Richard Marquis, Dante Marioni, and Preston Singletary. From pop to classical to native, from murrini to cane to sandblasting, from witty to refined to narrative, Marquis, Marioni, and Singletary demonstrate the endless possibilities when the creative mind meets molten glass and fire.
PHOTOS: Richard Marquis, Manikins, 2016; Dante Marioni, Leaf Vessels, 2016; Preston Singletary, Blue Tooth, 2016. photo credits: R.Marquis, K.Saul, Russell Johnson
IF YOU GO:
POP, CLASSICAL, and NATIVE CULTURES IN GLASS (THREE OLD FRIENDS): Richard Marquis, Dante Marioni, and Preston Singletary
Exhibition September 9 – October 4, 2016
Gallery Hours: 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Schantz Galleries Contemporary Glass, 3 Elm Street, Stockbridge, Massachusetts 01262
Tel: 413-298-3044 www.schantzgalleries.com
For more information, email Kim Saul at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cast and Carved Glass Process by Alex Gabriel Bernstein
“I feel as if I am an explorer. With each piece I make I prepare for a journey, I have a general idea where I want to go, but I never know where the path will lead me. Each piece I work on I set out in the hopes of discovering something new and exciting. As any explorer my journeys are filed with ups and downs, disappointments and breakthroughs, however with each piece I am sure to gain knowledge and insight which is the excitement that brings me to my studio every day.”
Alex Bernstein in his studio.
Using a diamond saw and grinding tools, Alex Gabriel Bernstein captures light and grace in his cut glass sculptures. Alex grew up in a creative environment with access to many of the artists of the American studio glass movement. As the child of two established glass artists, William and Katherine Bernstein, the beautiful surroundings of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina where they lived played almost as much of a part in his inspired upbringing as did the breadth of teachers around him.
Alex studied psychology at the University of North Carolina in Asheville and worked at a children’s psychiatric hospital before making the decision to pursue his artistic endeavors full time. He received a Master of Fine Arts from the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Crafts and went on to teach at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Cleveland Institute of Art, the Penland School of Crafts, and The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass. Most recently Alex was the Department Head of Glass at the Worcester Center for Crafts in Massachusetts but he made the decision to return to his hometown, Asheville, NC, in 2007 to set up a studio and focus on creating his own work full-time.
The following images show Alex’s general process from start to finish in creating a unique, cast and carved glass sculpture.
Alex puts small chunks of glass go into a very basic steel mold. This mold happens to be half of an old fire extinguisher.
Next is firing the glass in the kiln. At 1550 degrees, all the small pieces of glass homogenize into one glass block. These blocks are then slowly cooled down to room temperature which can take least a week – up to a month for larger pieces. This process is called Annealing.
Alex draws his design on the glass .
A large diamond saw is used to cut the glass.
… and refined with grinding tools.
Here is the over all shape. You can see some of the grinding tools as well.
Very carefully, Alex adds cuts with the diamond saw, which gives his work it’s unique appearance.
Here, the base is measured and drawn to be cut and fit to the larger part of the sculpture
The completed sculpture.